SECTION 95 OF IPC
Section 95 of the Indian Penal Code deals with acts that cause little damage. Nothing is an offence because it causes, is intended to produce, or is known to be likely to create harm, if that harm is so minor that no person of ordinary sense and temper would complain about it. Nothing constitutes an offence because it causes, or is intended to cause, or is known to be likely to create, any harm, if such harm is so minor that no person of ordinary intelligence would notice. The concept underpinning this clause is ‘de minimis non curat lex,’ which means that the law does not take trifles into consideration. According to the Code’s authors, “Clause 73 (this section) is intended to provide for those cases which, though they fall within the letter of the penal law due to the imperfection of language, are yet not within its spirit, and are all over the world considered by the public, and for the most part dealt with by the tribunals, as innocent.” It is theft to dip a pen in another man’s ink, mischief to crumble one of his wafers, an assault to cover him with a cloud of dust by riding by him, and harm to incommode him by pressing against him in getting into a carriage, according to our definitions.
There are other actions without which men cannot live together in society, acts that all men continuously do and suffer as a result of, and which it is desirable that they do and suffer as a result of, but which differ only in degree from crimes. It is obvious that these acts should not be treated as crimes, and we believe it is far better to expressly exclude them from the penal clauses of the Code than to leave it to the judges to do so in practise; for if the Code is silent on the subject, the judges can only except these cases by resorting to one of two practises that we regard as most pernicious, making law or wresting the latitude.
With the above-mentioned goal in mind, the section states that if a person causes harm or causes harm because he intends to cause harm or knows that he is likely to cause harm, such an act would not constitute an offence if the magnitude of the harm is so small that a person of ordinary sense and temper would not complain of such harm. There are numerous acts committed every day all over the world that are technically ‘offences,’ but the law cannot and should not take cognizance of these since doing so would be both impossible and would irreparably undermine the interests of the community while also burdening the court.
Some examples include the hustle and bustle of a crowded area, such as a busy market place, where force is almost always applied by one against another in the form of pushes, goings on in a crowded railway or bus station, where even intentional physical contacts between persons take place, and entering into the premises of another without authority in order to drink water from a tap on the corner of the lanes.
The clause only applies where the ‘damage’ inflicted is so minor that a person of ordinary reason and temper would not complain about it. Because the term “hurt” is not defined in the Indian Penal Code, either in this section or elsewhere, the Court has the jurisdiction to assess whether harm has occurred. Harm can take the shape of bodily or emotional injury, as well as financial or reputational loss. The IPC recognises a number of general exceptions. The following are among the General Exceptions specified in Sections 76 to 106 of the IPC, 1860:
Error in fact (Sections 76 and 79) Unintentional (Section 80) The requirement (Section 81) Insanity in childhood (Sections 82 and 83) (Section 84) a state of intoxication (Sections 85 and 86) Act of the Courts (Sections 77 and 78) Acceptance (Sections 87- 91) Communication is essential (Section 93) Constraint (Section 94) Miscellaneous (Section 95) Sections 96–106 deal with private defence. Mistake of Fact- This exemption exempts a person from criminal responsibility if the individual was wrong about the existence of certain facts or was unaware of their presence. The error must be related to “fact” rather than “law,” since “ignorance of the law is not an excuse.” This is summed up in the phrase “ignoratia juris non excusat.”
Essential elements- In order for the defence to be created, the individual must meet the following requirements:
He is required by law to do something. He believes he is required by law to execute such an act. Such a view was based on a factual error rather than a legal error. In genuine faith, he exercised such belief. In Chirangi v. State 1952 CR LJ 1212, the accused went to a hill with his kid to harvest leaves. He attacked him with an axe, thinking it was an animal. The accused was said to have made an error and was so acquitted.
On October 12, 1995, Mrs. Rupan Deol Bajaj and others sued Kanwar Pal Singh Gill and others. Following a review of the challenged judgement, we conclude that the following factors influenced the High Court in quashing the F.I.R :-
- The accusations contained therein do not reveal any cognizable offence;
- The nature of the claimed injury to Mrs. Bajaj did not qualify her to file a complaint under Section 95 of the IPC.
- The charges are out of the ordinary and implausible;
- The Investigating Officer did not apply his mind to the allegations made in the F.I.R., because if he had, he would have discovered that there was no reason to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence, which was the sine qua non’ for opening an investigation under Section 157 Cr. P.C.; and
- There was an excessive and inexplicable 11-day delay in filing the F.I.R.
Concerning Mr. Bajaj’s lawsuit, the High Court noted that the accusations were nearly identical, with minor modifications.
Mrs. Indira Jaisingh, the learned counsel appearing in support of the appeals, strongly criticised the impugned judgement and contended that, in exercising its powers under Section 482 Cr. P.C., the High Court should not have interfered with the statutory powers of the police to investigate cognizable offences and quashed the F.I.R., particularly when the allegations made in the F.I.R. were unmistakably false. She then claimed that the High Court’s conclusion that the accusations in the F.I.R. triggered the provisions of Section 95 IPC was clearly incorrect, because the said section cannot be used in a matter involving a woman’s modesty. She then claimed that the account given in the F.I.R. was not implausible nor untrustworthy, as the High Court believed. Concerning the delay in filing the F.I.R., Mrs. Jaisingh claimed that an acceptable reason for the delay was provided in the F.I.R. itself. Aside from that, she contended, the 11-day delay in filing an F.I.R. could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be used to invalidate it.
She finally argued that the High Court was completely unreasonable in objecting to the police officer’s registering the F.I.R. and starting the investigation since, once it was determined that the F.I.R. disclosed a cognizable offence, it was the police’s statutory responsibility to investigate the same. Mrs. Jaisingh claims that by quashing the F.I.R. and the lawsuit, the High Court committed severe unfairness and illegality.