Legal Provisions Regarding “Accident” in India – Section 80 of IPC

Sec. 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.

Illustration:

A is at work with a hatchet; the head flies off and kills a man who is standing by. Here, if there was no want of proper caution on the part of A, his act is excusable and not an offence.

Important Points:

A. Object:

Sec. 80 provides exemption from criminal liability to an act done by accident of 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 attention.

B. State Government of M.P. vs. Rangaswamy (AIR 1952 Nag. 268):

A Heyna, wild animal was moving in the villages and causing injuries and deaths to small children. The people frightened with it. They complained to the authorities. The Government deputed certain officers.

While they were wandering in the forests in search of Heyna, they saw a moving animal behind the bushes. It was a rainy day and the vision was not clear.

The officers thought that it was the Heyna. It was common that no people would be moving in that area and in particularly in that rainy time. The accused, one of the officers, fired at the moving object. The result was that the death of a human being. The Madhya Pradesh High Court held that the accused was protected under Sec. 80.

C. State of Orissa vs. Khoraghasi (1978 CrLJ 105 Ori.)

The accused was a tribal. He went into the forest to hunt the animals. He shot an arrow with a bona fide intention that he aimed at an animal. But the arrow caused the death of a human being. The Orissa Divisional Bench of the High Court acquitted the accused under Sec. 80.

D. Bhupendrasinha A. Chudasama vs. State of Gujarat (SC 1998 SCC 603)

Brief Facts: The accused and the deceased were police constable and head-constable. They were posted to protect a dam site. The accused killed his colleague in the night by firing at a close range without knowing the identity of his target. The accused pleaded the defence of Sec. 80. The trial Court convicted him under Section 302.

On appeal, the Supreme Court confirmed the conviction under Section 302, and held that the accused acted without proper care and caution, and that the act of accused could not come under an accident or misfortune or it was not a lawful act.

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