Mistake of fact under IPC

Forums Indian Penal Code, 1860 Mistake of fact under IPC

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  • #3336
    leaglesamiksha
    Keymaster

    Sec 76 and Sec 79 deal with mistakes of fact under General Exceptions laid down by the Indian Penal Code. The difference between the section is highlighted by the usage of the phrases “bound by law” and “justified by law”.
    Ques: What is the distinction between Sec 76 and 79 of the IPC?

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    • #3337
      Intern
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      “Section 76 of the Act provides for the general exception to acts done by a person “bound” by the law. On the other hand, Section 79 of the Act provides for the exception of the act done by a person “justified” by law.
      Here the essential difference between the two sections is the usage of the words “bound” and “justified”.

      Bound means that when the person feels/understands his/her responsibility to do such an Act, which may be by the virtue of his/her position for instance is necessary.

      Bound would mean in certain circumstances a necessity to do a certain thing or an Act.

      Justified means that when the person feels/understands his/her moral duty to do a certain act, which in the eyes of law, he/she feels is correct and provided under the legal provisions. It may not be a necessity/responsibility which arises out of one’s position or duty.

      The common essentials include:
      Good faith should be exercised in both sections and there should not be any reason for a mistake of law.”
      ~ Disha Pathak

    • #3338
      Intern
      Participant

      Sec. 76 lays down that nothing is an offence which is done by a person, who is, or who by reason of a mistake of fact and not by reason of mistake of law, in good faith, believes himself to be bound by law to do so.

      It is derived from legal maxim;
      ‘Ignorantia facit excusat, ignorantia juris non excusat’
      (The ignorance of fact excuses, ignorance of law does not excuse).

      Illustration;

      (a) A, a soldier, fires on a mob by the order of his superior officer, in conformity with the commands of the law. A has committed no offence.

      79. Act done by a person justified, or by mistake of fact believing himself, justified, by law– 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.

      Illustration;

      A sees Z commit what appears to A to be a murder. A, in the exercise of good faith, 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.
      ~ Isha Aggarwal

      • #3339
        Intern
        Participant

        Section 76 states that nothing is an offense, which is done by a person who is, or who by reason of mistake of fact and not by reason of mistake of law, in good faith, believes himself bound by law to do so. This means that a person if does any offence, by mistake of fact, and he think he was bound by law to do so, his act will not amount to an offence. For Example a police officer encounters X who was hiding in a room but while doing so he also kills Y who was sitting in the same room thinking him to be a gang member whereas he was just sitting there. Police officer can’t be held accountable of murder.
        Section 79 of IPC states that 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. This means that if a person, thinking that his action is justified by law, by mistake of fact does an act, then his act will not amount to offence. For example- A hits B thinking that he was trying to kill D whereas they were just practicing a part of the drama they were participating in. Here A will not be held guilty of Battery.
        Thus, in section 76 and 79 the only difference is that in Section 76 the person is bound by law and in 79 the person thinks his action to be justified by law.

    • #3340
      Intern
      Participant

      Section 76 of the IPC states that “ Nothing is an offense which is done by a person who is, 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, bound by law to do it.
      Section 79 of the IPC states that “ Nothing is an offense 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.
      Both these sections talk about the mistake of fact and mistake of law. The mistake of fact is
      excusable whereas the mistake of law is not excusable. Section 76 further talks about “bound
      by law” and section 79 talks about “justified by law”.
      “Bound by law” means that although the facts show that the offense is committed still the
      person under the mistake of fact believes that he was bound by law to act in that particular
      way. For instance, if a police officer, arrests a person by the order of his superior officer, he
      would be bound by law to act in that way.
      “Justified by law” means that the law gives a person the power to act in a particular way. To put
      it in simpler terms, it means that the person is empowered by law, the person had sufficient
      reasons to act in that way. For instance, X saw Y engaged in inflicting blows on Z. X caught Y in
      order to hand him over to the police. But later it was found that Y was exercising his right to
      private defense. Here, as X acted in good faith, his act would be justified by law.

    • #3341
      Intern
      Participant

      The major difference is in the words ‘bound by law’ in section 76 and ‘justified by law’ in section 79.
      Section 76 deals with the cases where by reason of a mistake of a fact the person under a mistake considers himself ‘bound by law’ to act in a particular way, although in true facts his act is an offense. For example. If the sub-inspector under the directions of the inspector arrests A in good faith believing that he is a thief then this is a case of ‘bound by law’.
      Section 79 deals with cases whereby the reason for a mistake of a fact the person under a mistake considers himself ‘justified by law’ to act in a particular way. For example. If A is punching B and X thinks that he is murdering B and goes there to protect him and later finds out that they were just practicing for boxing, so this is a case of ‘justified by law’.

    • #3678
      Intern
      Participant

      So, basically, when a person does an act bound by law, he commits no offence. Here in Section 76 of the IPC, it says that mistake of fact may be a defence in a criminal act, and it is essential for the offender to prove for escaping the punishment. But the mistake of law is not a defence under both civil and criminal law. This finds a place in the expression called ignorantia facit excusat, ignorantia Juris non excusat. It is clear that the mistake of law is not an excuse. So, everyone needs to be up to date with the law, and no one can take a defence by saying that they were not aware of the law. At the same time, Section 79 of the IPC protects the acts that are justifiable by the law or in good faith believed to be justified by the law. So, the act justified by law is not an offence. When we look at both sections, they look pretty similar as in both the sections there should be a bona fide intention. Still, there is a key difference that in Section 76, the essential element is a legal compulsion, and in Section 79, it is legal justification.

    • #3765

      Ans) Section 76 of the Indian Penal Code lays down that nothing is an offence done by a person who is under a mistake of fact and not under a mistake of law and in good faith believed himself to be bound by the law to do so. However, we cannot hold mere forgetfulness as a mistake of fact. Anything which implies mistake as to true identities or mistake related to sensory perceptions like hearing, seeing can be held as mistake of fact. However, if the fact, in its nature is illegal then one cannot take the defence of Section 76. Thus, for example, one cannot take the defence of mistake of fact, when found taking drugs while stating that it was meant for some other person.
      Section 79 mentions that nothing shall be considered as an offence if it is believed in good faith by a person to be justified by the law in doing such act. For example, A sees Z, stealing some items from a shop and for which he holds Z and produces him in the police station. However on further inspection, it was found that Z is a worker in the shopkeeper and he was replacing the damaged items with the new ones, thereby not stealing. So A cannot be held liable as he can take the defence of Section 79 of the Indian Penal Code.
      Thus, in brief the basic distinction between Section 76 and 79 of the IPC is that in the former, a person believes that he is bound by the law to do an act eg- like a soldier firing at the orders of his superior whereas in the latter, the person believes that he is justified by the law to do an act eg- stopping one person from stealing someone else’s goods.

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