For our studentsLegal Aptitude & Reasoning

LawpreneurzLegal Aptitude & Reasoning


As a general rule man is presumed to know the nature and consequences of the act and if does so, he is punished under the law. But it is not necessary a person gets punished for all the acts and there are certain exceptions to the general rule of law.

Remember, every offence is not absolute and there are exceptions to these offences. The Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 recognizes defences in Chapter IV under "General Exceptions". Section 76 to 106 covers these defences which are based on the presumption that a person is not liable for the crime committed. These defences depend upon the circumstances prevailing at that point of time, mens rea of person and reasonability of action of that accused.

Section 6 of IPC

"Throughout this code, every definition of offence, every penal provision and every illustration of every such definition or penal provision, shall be understood subject to exceptions contained in the chapter titled General Exceptions".

Excusable Acts Justifiable Act
A mistake of Fact under section 76 and 79. An act of Judge and Act performed in pursuance of an order under Section 77 and 78.
Accident under Section 80. The necessity under 81.
Infancy – Section 82 and 83. Consent under Section 87 – 89 and Section 90 and 92.
Insanity – Section 84. Communication under Section 93.
Intoxication – Section 85 and 86. Duress under Section 94.
  Trifles under Section 95.
  Private Defence under Section 96 – 106.


Section 76: Act done by a person bound or by mistake of fact believing, himself to be bound by law in included. Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who is or by reason of a mistake of fact, not by mistake of law in good faith believes himself, to be, bound by law to do such act.

Example: If a soldier firing on a mob by the order of his officer in conformity through the command of the law, then he will not be liable.

A, an officer of a court of Justice , being ordered by that court of Justice, ordered by that court to arrest Y, and after due enquiry , believing Z to be Y, arrests Z. A has committed no offence.

Mistake is a slip, not by design, but by mischance. Mistake can be admitted as defense provided there are below mentioned ingredients:

  • That state of things believed to exist would if true, would have justified his act done.
  • Mistake must be reasonable
  • Mistake must be of fact and not of law.

Ignorantiafacti doth excuse (Ignorance of fact is excusable)

Remember, ignorance of law is not an excuse, but mistake of fact . Every person is bound by law and ignorance of law is not an excuse

Ignorantiafactiexcusat, Ingnorantia juris non excusat (Ignorance of fact is excusable, but ignorance of law is not excusable)

There are cases where mistake of fact is no defense if the fact is illegal in itself. One cannot do illegal act example selling of adulterated goods, shooting x with no intention to do so, bigamy on honest belief decree of divorce has been granted when it was not so.

Section 79

Nothing is an offence which is done by any person who is justified by law, or who by reason of a mistake of fact and not by reason of a mistake of law in good faith, believes himself to be justified by law, in doing it.


A sees Z commit what appears to A to be a murder. A, in the exercise, to the best of his judgment exerted in good faith, of the power which the law gives to all persons of apprehending murderers in the fact, seizes Z, in order to bring Z before the proper authorities. A has committed no offence, though it may turn out that Z was acting in self-defence.

Section 52

Good Faith:Nothing is said to be done or believed in “good faith” which is done or believed without due care and attention.

In both section 76 and 79 there should be a bona fide intention.

Case : State of West Bengal V . Shew Mangal Singh

The case of the prosecution was that the deceased and his brother were shot dead by police at point blank range. The defence was that the constables were on patrol and that they had shot only on order of deputy commissioner after one of the constables was injured by the mob. The police were justified here to open the fire and got protection under section 76 of the IPC.

Section 80

Accident in doing a lawful act. —Nothing is an offence which is done by accident or misfortune, and without any criminal intention or knowledge in the doing of a lawful act in a lawful manner by lawful means and with proper care and caution

Here lawful means something or an act which is not illegal.

Example : If Ram was cutting a tree using an axe, and suddenly the front portion of the axe fells on someone , there being no requirement of proper caution on part of Ram, such an act is excusable.

Accident is caused where an act is caused contrary or out of order of ordinary events. Such an act is not anticipated and is caused due to the misfortune. Whenever there is an element of negligence present in such an act, a person would not get benefit.

Example : If Mr. Y scares Mr. X with his pistol and thereby mistakenly pulls the trigger, he would not get the benefit under section 80 i.e accident.

Now if Mr. Y plan to commit theft by stealing money out of the pocket of Mr. X and thereby puts his hand inside Mr. X’s pocket, where a pistol was kept. When Mr. Y had put his hand he mistakenly pulled the trigger , here he would get the benefit under Accident or to say would get the Defence of act caused by Accident. Mr. Y would be liable only for theft.

Section 82

Act of a child under seven years of age : Nothing is an offence which is done by a child under seven years of age.

This is the age below which a person cannot be held criminally responsible and is referred to as doli incapax, which means “incapable of doing any harm”

Doli Incapax (incapable of doing any harm )

Objectives behind this doctrine :

  • A child below 7 years of age doesnot have sufficient,mental capacity to understand his act and would therefore not have required intention to commit the same. Since there is no, 'mens rea', such a child cannot be punished
  • To protect the child from the harshness of the punishment that may be inflicted upon him at the tender age.

Section 83

Act of a child above seven and under twelve of immature understanding.—Nothing is an offence which is done by a child above seven years of age and under twelve, who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge of the nature and consequences of his conduct on that occasion

Between the age of 7 and 12, the CrPC provides for presumption of innocence in favour of children, but if the prosecution can prove and provide evidence for the contrary then the child can be prosecuted. From 14 to 18 years a child is liable only if he has an insight into both the legality and punishability of the act. A minor can be tried as an adult only when a general test is done to ascertain whether the child had adequate understanding of the consequences of his actions.

Example :

'X' an adult of 25 years, in order to kill 'P', instigates 'Z' a child of 6 years to do an act which causes P's death. Here, the child will not be liable for any crime as he is doli incapax. However, X will be held liable for murder of P.

In the case of Heeralal v. State of Bihar[1], an eleven year old child quarrelled with the deceased and threatened to cut the deceased into pieces. The child picked up the knife and actually stabbed the deceased to death. The defence under Section 83 of Indian Penal Code was pleaded. The trial court convicted the boy rejecting the defence because the child's words, gesture, assault, keeping a knife and ultimately stabbing the deceased proved that the child had the knowledge and understanding of the consequences of his actions. The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court.

Insanity :

Act of a person of unsound mind. Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who at that time of performing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.

This section provides that a person who by the reason of unsoundness of mind, prevented from controlling his own conduct and is deprived of power of passing a rational judgement, cannot be made legally responsible for his act. It is based on the principle actus non facitreum, nisi mens sit rea.

It is also considered that an insane person doesn't possess a free will.

Furiosinullavoluntasest (No culpability can be fastened upon insane person as they have no free will)

Example: A, who is insane or unsound, killed B with a knife, thinking it to be a fun game, will not be liable for B’s death as he was not aware of the nature of act and law. he was incapable of thinking judiciously.

Unsound people include:

  • Idiot(born)
  • Non compos mentis by illness (temporary failure)
  • Lunatic (mental disorder)
  • Intoxicated


At the time of committing it: At the time when the committed the act which resulted into offence, what was his state of mind. The burden of proof is on the person who committed the crime. A close proximity between the commission of crime and unsoundness of mind should be proved. Previous conduct and subsequent conduct are very important. Law presumes everyone to be sane. Legally wrong here itself means contrary to law. The word 'wrong' here means morally wrong. Both have to be read in alternative

The courts are concerned here with legal insanity and not medical insanity. Legal insanity recognizes only impairment of cognitive faculties.

Insane delusions when partial, the defense is not available but when there a person is laboring under complete delusions then this defense is available.


Act of a person of unsound mind. —Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law.

Act of a person incapable of judgment by reason of intoxica¬tion caused against his will.—Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, is, by reason of intoxication, incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong, or contrary to law; provided that the thing which intoxicated him was administered to him without his knowledge or against his will.

In cases where an act done is not an offence unless done with a particular knowledge or intent, a person who does the act in a state of intoxication shall be liable to be dealt with as if he had the same knowledge as he would have had if he had not been intoxicated, unless the thing which intoxicated him was administered to him without his knowl¬edge or against his will.

While insanity is a disease and is therefore pitied, drunkenness is a vice and is therefore to be condemned. If a man chooses to get drunk, it is his own voluntary act; it is very different which is not caused by any act of the person. There is a rule of presumption as to knowledge.

Qui pecatebriusluatsobrius ( Let him who sins when drunk be punished when sober)

Voluntary drunkenness is an excuse only as regards to "intention" so that is a complete excuse in crimes requiring the presence of an “intention” to complete a crime . It is not an excuse of "knowledge" as distinct from "intention".

The accused has the burden of proof regarding three below mentioned ingredients:

  • Incapable of knowing the nature of the act.
  • The state of mind because of intoxication.
  • The intoxication was involuntary i.e. against his will and without his knowledge.

Example: A was persuaded to drink by his father to let go off of his anger. After drinking he goes and kills his enemy X, here A would be liable as he had voluntarily consumed the alcohol and knowledge would be imputed.

Lawpreneurz Details of lecture

Subject Sr No. Topics
1. Criminal Law Lecture 1 Law of Crimes/Indian Penal Code
Lecture 2 General Exceptions 1
Lecture 3 General exceptions 2
Lecture 4 Group Liability
Lecture 5 Attempt
Lecture 6 Culpabale Homicide
Lecture 7 Theft Extortion Robbery
Lecture 8 Dacoity
Lecture 9 Cheating 1
Lecture 10 Cheating 2
2. Torts Lecture 1 Law of Torts
Lecture 2 General Defenses
Lecture 3 No fault Lability
Lecture 4 Vicarious Liability
Lecture 5 Negligence
Lecture 6 Nuisance
3. Contract Lecture 1 Law of Contracts
Lecture 2 Competency of Contract
Lecture 3 Free Consent
Lecture 4 Acceptance
Lecture 5 Uncertain Agreements
Lecture 6 Performance of Contract
4. Constitution Lecture 1 Constitution
Lecture 2 Fundamental Rights1
Lecture 3 Fundamental Rights2
Lecture 4 Directive Principles of State Policy, Fundamental Duties
Lecture 5 Emergency
Lecture 6 Amendment

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