In tort law, causing ‘nuisance’ means ‘unreasonably interfering’ with a person’s right over and in connection, with his property or his land. Nuisance may be caused in various ways, such as the causing of unnecessary noise, heat, smoke, smell and other such disturbing activities. For example, your neighbor unnecessary is in the habit of setting on fire the morning piles of the dead leaves. He burns these in his garden, but the smoke from this fire blows into your house, and this is a type of general disturbance for you. Such behavior would constitute nuisance and since you are denied the right to live in your property and enjoy it safely. There are two types of nuisances, public nuisance and private nuisance.

In order that nuisance is actionable tort, it is essential that there should exist:
• Wrongful acts;
• Damage or loss or inconvenience or annoyance caused to another.
• Inconvenience or discomfort to be considered must be more than mere delicacy or fastidious and more than producing sensitive personal discomfort or annoyance. Such annoyance or discomfort or inconvenience must be such which the law considers as substantial or material.

In Ushaben v. Bhagyalaxmi Chitra Mandir, , the plaintiffs sued the defendants for a permanent injunction to restrain them from exhibiting the film “Jai Santoshi Maa”. It was contended that exhibition of the film was a nuisance because the plaintiff’s religious feelings were hurt as Goddesses Saraswati, Laxmi and Parvati were defined as jealous and were ridiculed.

It was held that hurt to religious feelings was not an actionable wrong. Moreover the plaintiff’s were free not to see the movie again.

Public Nuisance: This type of nuisance occurs when the right of the general public is interfered with. For instance, if a person deliberately blocks a road with his vehicle, then he interferes with the right of the public in general, and that would be a public nuisance. This is because the road is a public property, and by blocking it, the person interferes with the public exercise or enjoyment of that property.

Public nuisance is a sort of crime and it is not merely a civil wrong committed against the rights of a person, and commission of a public nuisance results in punishment by the state, which may impose a fine or even put behind bars i.e. punishment.

Private Nuisance: This is the kind of nuisance that is ground for a tort action for nuisance by a private party. The damages could be sought through a civil suit. There are certain requirements which need to be met for this, these include unreasonable interference by the defendant, also the interference must be with the use or enjoyment of the plaintiff’s property, the plaintiff should have suffered some damage as a result.

The law of nuisance is almost an uncodified one. Yet it has grown and expanded through interpretation and through a plethora of judgments. The concept of nuisance is one that arises most commonly in a man’s daily life and the decision regarding the same has to be delivered on a case to case base ensuring that neither the aggrieved plaintiff goes back uncompensated nor the defendant is punished unnecessarily. Indian Courts in the matters of nuisance have borrowed quite intensively from the English principles as well as from the decisions of the common law system along with creating their own precedents. This has resulted in a sound system of law being developed that ensures fairness and well being of all i.e. the parties and the society at large.

Difference between Private and Public Nuisance:-

  • Private nuisance is an infringement of the right of a private person whereas the other  is an infringement of a public right.
  • In private nuisance the injury is caused to the individual, whereas in public nuisance injury is caused to every person of the public.
  • In private nuisance an injured person may bring an action, whereas in public nuisance a person may bring an action only if he sustains a special injury.
  • In private nuisance plaintiff must prove interference with his enjoyment of land whereas public nuisance is actionable per se.



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