Nuisance under law of torts

Introduction- Nuisance starts with the term nocere ‘to harm’ then converted to ‘nuire’ in French and after all at last it becomes ‘nuisance’. Anything which annoys, hurts or that which is offensive and is there for a continuous period of time disturbing someone that is called as nuisance.

According to Salmond, “the wrong of nuisance consists in causing or allowing without lawful justification the escape of any deleterious thing from his land or from elsewhere into land in possession of the plaintiff, e.g. water, smoke, fumes, gas, noise, heat, vibration, electricity, disease, germs, animals”.

A nuisance is covered under both whether it is IPC 1860 or law of tort. In IPC 1860 A public nuisance covered under section 268 which defines public nuisance. According to IPC 1860 the nuisance covered on public at large. It does not cover any private nuisance until and unless the person must proved that he is effected more then the rest of the public than that person must be taken into consideration as a special injury.

In the case of Dr Ram Raj Singh vs Babulal (1928) That Dr Ram singh has a clinic which is near to the brick powdering mill and the dust which was spreaded by that brick plant it must effect the patient in the clinic which is not good at all so here the doctor was claimed the private damages.

Essential of Private Nuisance in Law of torts.

  1. Plaintiff should have the right to use/enjoy the land.
  2. The defendant should be doing unreasonable use of land.
  3. Unreasonable Interference or Damages.
  4. Should be Continuous in nature.

Defences for Nuisance

  1. Prescription- Right to do an Act, which would otherwise be a private nuisance.

In India you get a prescription at the expiration of Years under section 26 of Limitation Act and section 15 of the Easement Act.

A special defence available in the case of nuisance is prescription if it has been peaceable and openly enjoyed as an easement and as of right without interruption and for twenty years. After a nuisance has been continuously in existence for twenty years prescriptive right to continue it is acquired as an easement appurtenant to the land on which it exists. On the expiration of this period the nuisance becomes legalised ab initio, as if it had been authorised in its commencement by a grant from the owner of servient land. The time runs, not from the day when the cause of the nuisance began but from the day when the nuisance began.

  1. Statutory Authority- Where a statute has authorised the doing of a particular act or the use of land in a particular way, all remedies whether by way of indictment or action, are taken away; provided that every reasonable precaution consistent with the exercise of the statutory powers has been taken. Statutory authority may be either absolute or conditional.


The remedies available for nuisance are as follows:

  1. Injunction- It maybe a temporary injunction which is granted on an interim basis and that may be reversed or confirmed. If it’s confirmed, it takes the form of a permanent injunction. However the granting of an injunction is again the discretion of the Court.
  2. Damages- The damages offered to the aggrieved party could be nominal damages i.e. damages just to recognize that technically some harm has been caused to plaintiff or statutory damages i.e.where the amount of damages is as decided by the statute and not dependent on the harm suffered by the plaintiff or exemplary damages i.e. where the purpose of paying the damages is not compensating the plaintiff, but to deter the wrongdoer from repeating the wrong committed by him.
  3. Abatement of nuisance – It means the summary remedy or removal of a nuisance by the party injured without having recourse to legal proceedings. It is not a remedy that the law favours and is not usually advisable. E.g. – The plaintiff himself cuts off the branch of the tree of the defendant which hangs over his premises and causes a nuisance to him.

In the case of Datta Mal Chiranji Lal v. Lodh Prasad, AIR 1960 All 632: The defendant established an electric flour mill adjacent to the plaintiff’s house in a bazaar locality and the running of the mill produced such noise and vibrations that the plaintiff and his family, did not get peace and freedom from noise to follow their normal avocations during the day. They did not have quiet rest at night also. It was held that the running of the mill amounted to a private nuisance that should not be permitted.

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