Injuria sine Damnum

1.. The Latin word ‘injuria’ refers to not just a physical injury, but an infringement, or, a violation of a legal right, or invasion of individual interests. The latin word ‘damnum’ refers to Losses.

2. In cases of injuria sine damno, i.e., the infringement of an absolute private right without any actual loss or damage, the person whose right is infringed has a cause of action. Every person has an absolute right to his property, to the immunity of his person, and to his liberty, and an infringement of this right is actionable per se. In India, the same principles have been followed.

3. The Privy Council has observed that “there may be, where a right is interfered with, injuria sine damno sufficient to found an action: but no action can be maintained where there is neither damnum nor injuria.

4. In the leading case of Ashby v. White, (1703) 2 Lord Raym 938, the defendant, a returning officer, wrongfully refused to register a duly tendered vote of the plaintiff, a legally qualified voter, at a
parliamentary election and the candidate for whom the vote was tendered was elected, and no loss was suffered by the rejection of the vote, nevertheless it was held that an action lay. In this case the returning officer has acted maliciously.

5. Bhim Singh vs State of J K, AIR 1986 SCC 494 – Plaintiff was an MLA and was wrongfully arrested while going to assembly session. He was not produced before a magistrate within the requisite period. It was held that this was the violation of his fundamental rights. Even though he was released later, he was awarded Rs. 50,000/= as exemplary damages by Supreme Court.

6. Municipal Board of Agra v Ashrafi Lal (1921) 44 ALL 202. The defendant’s name was wrongly omitted from the electoral roll and he was deprived of his right to vote. The lower court ruled in favour of defendant which was affirmed by High Court holding that the act of omission / refusal of returning officer is an infringement of defendant’s legal right to vote for which action lies against the person depriving him his right.

Damnum sine Injuria

1) In cases of damnum sine injuria, i.e., actual and substantial loss without infringement of any legal right, no action lies. Mere loss in money or money’s worth does not of itself constitute a tort. The most terrible harm may be inflicted by one man on another without legal redress being obtainable. There are many acts which, though harmful, are wrongful and give no right of action. “ Damnum” may be absque injuria.
2) In Gloucester v Grammar School [1441 YB11 Henry IV, 47], defendant set up a rival school to that of plaintiff with the result, the plaintiff was forced to reduce tuition fees substantially as the boys were moving out. Plaintiff filed to claim damages. HELD that plaintiff had no cause of action on the ground that “bona fide” competition can afford no ground for action. This is a case of ‘damnun sine injuria’.

3) In Quinn v. Leatham, [1901] AC 495, defendant set up a rival school next door to the plaintiff’s and boys from the plaintiff’s school flocked to defendant’s school. In this case, it was held that no action could be maintained. Competition is no ground of action whatever damage it may cause, provided nobody’s legal rights are infringed.

4) In Mayor of Bradford v Pickles (1895) AC 597, When Bradford Corporation refused t buy his land, the defendant got annoyed and sank a shaft in his own land . This diminished and discolored the underground water flowing into plaintiff’s land, who then sued the defendant on the ground that his conduct was unlawful and dictated my malice. HELD that the defendant was within his legal rights, and the act though malicious, done in his own land was not actionable.

5) In Mogul Steamship Co. v McGregor, Gow & Co. (1889) 28 ABD 598. A,B,C & D all ship owners combined together to drive F, a rival ship owner out of trade, by offering special concessions to
customers who would deal with them to the exclusion of F. The plaintiff(F) suffered loss and sued A,B, C and D on the ground of conspiracy. HELD That the defendants had done nothing unlawful, by combining for the purpose of trade and competition. They acted with lawful purpose of expanding trade and increase profits to themselves, though the intention was to cause the plaintiff to lose trade.

6) In P.Seetharamayya v Mahalakshmiamma AIR (1958) AP 103, the defendants dug a trench and put up a bund in their own lands. As a result, rainwater flowed into plaintiff’s land and caused damage. Plaintiff filed a suit for damages as well as injunction. HELD Owner of a land has a right to build a fence upon his land to protect damage by overflow of river, even though as a consequence of that act, the overflowing water entered plaintiff’s land and caused damage. This is a case of “Damnum sine Injuria” and the defendants are not liable.

7) In Town Area Committee v Prabhudayal AIR (1975) ALL 132, the plaintiff constructed some shops without giving notice to municipal body and without obtaining prior sanction The defendants demolished these shops. Plaintiff claimed damages which was denied. HELD by Allahabad High court, on appeal, “that if a person constructs a building illegally, the demolition of such building by the municipal authorities, though motivated by malice, would not amount to causing ‘injuria’ to the owner of the proper

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