The term nuisance is derived from the French word nuire and latin term nocere which means to hurt or to annoy.
According to Blackstone nuisance is something that causes damage, inconvenience and annoyance.
Dr Salmond defines Nuisance as wrong consists in causing or allowing without lawful justification, the escape of any deleterious thing from a person’s land or from elsewhere into land in position of the plaintiff.
The thought of new sense is generally a continuing wrong which relates to lawful interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of land or of some right over, or in connection with it. Nuisance is both, a crime as well as a tort.
CATEGORIES OF NUISANCE
There are 2 categories of nuisance:-
- public nuisance;
- private nuisance.
Public nuisance is both adult as well as a crime while private nuisance is only a tort. Public nuisance is one which material affects the reasonable comfort and convenience of life of a sizeable class of public which come within the sphere of its operation.
Where there existed a public nuisance in a locality due to open drainage, heaps of dirt, pits and public excretion by human beings for want of lavatories and consequently breeding of mosquitoes, the court ordered the municipality under section 123 of the municipality act to take affirmative action to remove the course of public nuisance.[i]
Section 133 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 empowers the District Magistrate to pass order for the removal of public nuisance. For the purpose of this section the word ‘public’ may include a class or a community residing in a particular locality.
In Rose v. Miles[ii], the defendant wrongfully moved his barge across a public navigable creek, which blocked the way of plaintiff’s barges and he had to incur huge expenditure for unloading the cargo and transporting it by land. The court accepted the special damage caused to the plaintiff and therefore, the defendant was held liable for public nuisance.
In Campbell v. Paddington Corporation[iii], the plaintiff owned a building in London. The funeral procession of King Edward VII was to pass from the highway just in front of the plaintiffs building. Taking advantage of the location of her building she accepted payments from certain persons for permitting them to occupy the seats at the first and second floor windows of her building to have a full view of the procession which was to pass through the highway. But a couple of days before the date of funeral procession, the defendant Corporation erected a stand on the highway in front of the plaintiffs building for the guests to have a view of the procession. The stand thus obstructed the view from the windows of the plaintiffs building and she was, therefore, deprived of the profitable contracts of letting out the seeds in her building. She sued the defendant Corporation for public nuisance claiming special damages due to construction of stand on highway. The court held the defendant liable and ordered the Corporation to compensate the plaintiff for the amount which she had lost due to cancellation of contracts with persons who had booked seeds in her building.
Private nuisance may be described as unlawful interference with a persons use or enjoyment of land, or some right over, or in connection with it.
Private nuisance may be in 3 forms namely,
- unlawful interference or encroachment on a neighbour’s land
- interference with the enjoyment of land
- direct material damage
- Unreasonable interference
- Such interference should relate to peaceful use or enjoyment of land or any right to land
- Damage should have been caused.
Ramlal v. Mustafabad Oil and Cotton Ginning Factory,[iv] High Court of Punjab held that noise pollution is considered as new sense of the high degree, it shall be no defense to content that it was as a result of business or from lawful amusement or religious worship prohibition on loud noise which is a public nuisance does not contravene the freedom of carrying out trading business under article 19(1)(g) of the constitution.
G.M.M. Pfaudler Ltd. V. TATA AIG Life Insurance Co. Ltd. & Ors.[v], chiller plant of the defendants caused noise and vibration in the office premises of insurance company. The plaintiff therefore, file a suit for injunction on the grounds of new sense. The court after referring to a number of English and Indian cases, held that reasonable noise or vibration would not constitute an actionable tort of nuisance.
Interference with the Use and Enjoyment of Land
Sadashiv Chetty v. Rangappa Raju,[vi] the defendant’s oil mill emitted obnoxious smell and caused unbearable noise which interfered with the nearby residents peaceful enjoyment of their land, the defendant was there for, held liable for causing nuisance and directed to prevent the cause of nuisance by adequate measures.
Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action v. UOI (Bechhari Case),[vii] 5 factories were manufacturing hydrochloric acid which was highly toxic, in Bechhari village of Udaipur district in Rajasthan . These units were discharging highly toxic untreated effluents and sludge having high gypsum and iron contents, which were not only damaging the villager’s health but also were degrading the fertility of the soil l and polluting the underground water. The court held it to be serious nuisance causing health hazards and ordered the closure of the factories to update the cause of nuisance. The court also imposed costs on these units for restoration of ecology of the area.
Nicholls v. Ely Beet Sugar Facrtory Ltd.,[viii] large quantity of refuse and effluents were alleged to be discharged from the defendants sugar factory into the River in which the plaintiff had warned to xclusive fisheries. The Court of Appeal held that there was no need for the plaintiff to prove pecuniary loss, the damages being actionable per side. It is, however, a different matter that he lost the case because he failed to prove that the damage caused to him was because of defendants act.
Normally, the assessment of damage in nuisance cases is done on the basis of depreciation in value of plaintiff’s property caused by the defendant’s act. In case the plaintiff is sustained any special damages, he shall have to prove it. Where the plaintiffs loses something due to act of defendant’s nuisance is only one of the several causes, then he may be awarded the amount equivalent to loss.
[i] Municipal Council Ratlam v, Virdhi Chand, AIR 1980 SC 1622.
[ii] (1815) 4M & S 101.
[iii] (1911) 1 KB 869.
[iv] AIR 1968 P&H 11
[v] (2010) 6 AIR BOM LR 131.
[vi] (1918) MAD W.N. 293
[vii] AIR 1996 SC 1446.
[viii] (1936) Ch D 343.