Indian Penal Code- General Exception ( Mistake of Facts Sec. 76 & 79)

Prepared by Asisst. Professor Rekha Khandelwal

To read about Notes on Indian Penal Code Plz. click the link

IPC Chapter – IV General Exception

Chapter IV of Indian Penal Code, 1860 states following acts which are exempted under the code from criminal liability where the accused is not charged of the crime committed.

Mistake of Fact ( Sec. 76 & 79)

Sec. 76 and 79 are based on the Latim maxim ignorantia facti excusat and ignorantia juris non excusat which means ignorantia of fact is excuse, ignorance of law is no excuse.

Sec. – 76. “Act done by a person bound, or by mistake of fact believing himself bound, by law.”

  • An act done by a person who is bound by law in doing that act or
  • An act done by a person who believes himself to be bound by law in doing that act
  • The belief must be by reason of a mistake of fact and not by reason of a mistake of law.
  • The belief must be a bona fide in good faith.

If all above conditions are fulfilled in doing any act then the act is exempted under the code from criminal liability. The accused is not charged of the crime committed because the act shows absence of mens rea i.e. guilty mind. While Actus rea and mens rea are two essential elements to impose criminal liability on accused.

According to Principle of criminal liability in IPC which is basis on latin maxim “Actus non faciet reum nisi mens sit rea” Means – There should be guilty mind with guilty act to constitute any offence.

Illustrations:-

(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.”

(b) “A, an officer of a Court of Justice, being ordered by that Court to arrest Y, and after due enquiry, believing Z to be Y, arrests Z. A has committed no offence.”

Cases relating to sec 76 Plz. click the link

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

  • An act done by a person who is justified by law in doing that act or
  • An act done by a person who believes himself to be justified by law in doing that act
  • The belief must be by reason of a mistake of fact and not by reason of a mistake of law.
  • The belief must be a bona fide in good faith.

If all above conditions are fulfilled in doing any act then the act is exempted under the code from criminal liability. The accused is not charged of the crime committed because the act shows absence of mens rea i.e. guilty mind. While Actus rea and mens rea are two essential elements to impose criminal liability on accused.

According to Principle of criminal liability in IPC which is basis on latin maxim “Actus non faciet reum nisi mens sit rea” Means – There should be guilty mind with guilty act to constitute any offence.

Illustration

“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.”

Cases relating to sec. 79 Plz. click the link

Difference between Sec. 76 and 79 in Indian Penal Code

  • A person is assumed  to be bound by law in sec. 76 While A person is assumed to be justified by law in Sec. 79.
  • According to sec. 76 there is a legal compulsion in doing particular act While under sec. 79 there is legal justification in doing particular act.
To read about Notes on Constitution of India Plz. click the link

To read about Notes on Law of Torts Plz click the link

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