The Indian Penal code defines nuisance as an act which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance, to the people in general who dwell or occupy the property, in the vicinity, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger, or annoyance to the people who may have occasion to use any public right.
Kinds of Nuisance:-
- Public nuisance = It is interference with the right of the public in general and is punishable as an offence.
- Private nuisance = It constitutes :
- Unreasonable interference – To constitute a nuisance, the interference should be unreasonable.
- Sensitive plaintiff -> An act which is otherwise reasonable does not become unreasonable and actionable when the damage, even though substantial, is caused solely due to the sensitiveness of the plaintiff or the use to which he puts his property.
- Does nuisance connote a state of affairs -> A constant noise, smell or vibration is a nuisance and ordinarily an isolated act to escape cannot be considered to be a nuisance?
- Malice -> When an act is done with bad intention, called Malice.
- Interference with the use or enjoyment of land – It is caused either :
- Injury to the property itself -> An unauthorised interference with the use of the property of another person through some object, tangible or intangible, which causes damage to the property, is actionable as a nuisance.
- Nuisance to incorporeal property ;
- Interference with the right if support of land and buildings- A person has a ” natural ” right to have his land supported by his neighbour’s and therefore removal of support, lateral or from beneath is a nuisance.
- Right to support by grant or prescription respect of buildings, the right of support may be acquired by grant or prescription.
- Interference with right to light and air-
- England Right to light is also not a natural right and may be acquired by grant or prescription.
- Right to air = It is possible to acquire a right of air by grant and prescription.
- India: In India also, the right to light and air may be acquired by an easement.
- Injury to comfort or health -> Substantial interference with the comfort and convenience in using the premises is actionable as a nuisance.
- Damage – Unlike trespass, which is actionable per se, actual damage is required to be proved in an action for nuisance.
- Nuisance on highways -> Obstructing a highway or creating dangers on it or in it as nuisance.
- Projections -> As regards projections on the highway by objects like overhanging branches of a tree or a clock, etc. from the land or a building adjoining the highway, no action for nuisance can be brought for such projections unless some damages caused thereby.
Several defences have been pleaded in an action for nuisance.
- Effectual defences :
- Prescriptive right to commit nuisance – A right to do an act, which would otherwise be a nuisance, may be acquired by prescription.
- Statutory authority – An act done under the authority of a statute is a complete defence.
- Ineffectual defence :
- Nuisance due to acts of others – Sometimes the act of 2 or more persons, acting independently of each other, may cause nuisance although the act of any one of them alone would not be so.
- Public good – It isn’t a defence to say that what is a nuisance to a particular plaintiff is beneficial to the public in general, otherwise no public utility undertaking could be held liable for the unlawful interference with the rights of individuals.
- Reasonable care – Use of reasonable care to prevent nuisance is generally no defence.
- Plaintiff coming to nuisance – It is no defence that the plaintiff himself came to the place of a nuisance.