Mistake by Kanika Bhatia

Mistake is given in Section 76 of IPC,1760

What is a mistake ?

An unconscious ignorance or forgetfulness of a fact, past or present, material to the contract, or a belief in the present existence of a thing material to the contract, which does not exist; some intentional act, omission, or error arising from ignorance, surprise, imposition, or misplaced confidence; in a legal sense, the doing of an act under an erroneous conviction, which act, but for such conviction would not have been done.

Act done by a person bound, or by mistake of fact believing himself bound, by law.—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 a mistake of law in good faith believes himself to be.

Mistake of facts -Excusable 

A mistake of fact can be an exception in reducing or eliminating the liability of the person. A person cannot escape his liability for intentional mistakes. A criminal defendant can argue that he/she never intended to commit the crime. The criminal act that occurred as a result of the mistake of fact as per the situation demands or misunderstanding.

A mistake of fact arises when a person does any act but misunderstood some fact that negates an element of the crime. Bounded by law .

A mistake of fact as a defence applies to various crimes. If the criminal defendant can prove that he does the act due to a mistake of fact or misunderstood some fact that negates an element of the crime.

The legal maxim, “ignorantia facti excusati ignorantia juris non excusat which means ignorance of fact is an excuse, but ignorance of law is no excuse. So it is a basic requirement to be get protected under the sphere of this defence that mistake must be of fact

Mistake of law -Non Excusable

It is assumed that every person knows the law of the country he resides in. if a person says, I do not know the law and does the act, it is not excusable.

However, if a person did a wrongful act by mistake of fact with a good intention and honest belief that he was bound to do, he may be excused.

Mistake can be done in good faith so that someone be benefit .


The general defences enshrined under IPC are of paramount importance in establishing the parameters of criminal offences. Criminal liability makes a person liable for the acts which are prohibited by law. Indian Penal Code took cognizance of fact that all acts are not to be punished. The acts devoid of mens rea are exempted from criminal liability.It goes with Mistake as a criminal defense in IPC.


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