LCI Learning

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on LinkedIn

Share on Email

Share More


The burden of proof is governed by Section 101 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 which does not shift and lies on the prosecution to prove its case.

However, if the accused claims any general exception defence, the burden of evidence shifts to the accused to demonstrate that his case falls within one of the provisions mentioned in Chapter IV of the IPC.

Therefore, the phrase "General Exceptions" was chosen to communicate that these exceptions are accessible to everyone accused of a crime.


The law stipulates several penalties for particular breaches. Regardless, an individual might not face legal consequences for the offenses that they have committed. The IPC (Indian penal code) of 1860 identifies defenses for executing a criminal offense in Chapter 4 of the IPC under the topic of 'General Exceptions.' Sections 76-106 of the IPC address these defenses. The broad exceptions in sections 76-106 determine whether a criminal offense is committed or not. The overall exceptions enacted by the IPC have universal application. Instead of repeating in every section that the definition is to be taken subject to the exceptions, the legislature enacted section 6 of the IPC, which states that each report must be considered subject to the 'general exceptions.' Hence, the general exceptions are a part of the definition of each offense within the IPC.

The law provides unique defenses that absolve criminal responsibility. These defenses have supported the notion that, despite the very fact that the individual committed the crime, he can't be held liable since, at the time of the offense, either the circumstances or the person's condition dictated that he couldn't meet the standards for planning the crime. As a result, an individual who commits a criminal offense must be held in charge of their acts without justification.


The subsequent acts are exempted under the code from criminal liability. The 'general exception' defenses are classified under two main heads: i). excusable acts, and ii). justifiable acts. Furthermore, the excusable acts are divided into three categories:

1). Mistake of fact (under Section 76 and 79);

2). Incapacity, which is further divided into three parts, respectively:

3). Accident (under section 80).

Moving on to the justifiable act, which is divided into seven classifications, namely:

1). Judicial act, which is further bifurcated into three parts:

  • Act of judge (under section 77); and
  • Act done by order of court (under section 78);

2). Necessity (under section 81);

3). Duress (Under section 94);

4). Consent, which is further split into two parts, i.e.:

  • With (under section 87-89); and
  • Without (under section 92);

5). Communication (under section 93);

6). Trivial (under section 95);

7). Right to personal defence (under section 96-106).

Now, to gain a better grasp of these sections, they will be detailed below:

Section 76

"Act done by a person bound, or by mistake of fact believing himself bound," which implies that nothing is an infringement committed by a person who is, or who believes himself to be, compelled by law to do something because of a factual error and not because of a weakness in good faith.

Case law

  • In State of West Bengal v Shew Mangal Singh & Ors.In State of West Bengal v Shew Mangal Singh & Ors., 1981 AIR 1917, 1982 SCR (1) 360, the respondents were condemned and sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court on counts of murder, read with joint culpability. The High Court of Calcutta acquitted them, stating that the circumstances were such that the respondents were obligated to accept their senior officer's legitimate commands. On plea to the Supreme Court, the Court held that because the order was justified and legitimate, no more issue could be asked whether the respondents, who acted according to the order, believed or did not think it was lawful. The Court stated that such a question is essential when a superior officer's order does not comply with the law, and the respondent uses the superior order as a defence. In the instant case, the circumstances were such that the police officers' actions to open fire were appropriate, and they could not be held accountable since they were operating in accordance with the senior officer's orders. The Court went on to say that such a question is essential when a superior officer's order is not in compliance with the law, and the respondent uses superior order as a defence. In the present situation, the circumstances were such that the police officers' actions to open the investigation were justified.

Section 77

"Act of Judge when acting judicially." This section shields judges from criminal prosecution in the same way as it shields judicial officers. They are protected from legal actions by the 1850 statute. The Judicial Officers Protection Act protects two major types of activities performed or authorized by a judicial officer in his role as a judge. In the first instance, all acts within his jurisdiction fall into this category. The second category includes activities that may or may not be within the judicial officer's authority but are still done or committed by him, thinking in good faith that he had the power to do so or order them to be done. This was decided in the case of Rachapudi Subba Rao versus Advocate General 1976 CriLJ 746.

Section 78

"Act done pursuant to the judgment or order of Court," implies that nothing done in pursuance of, or warranted by, a Court of Justice's judgment or order is an offense if done while such judgment or order is in force, even if the Court does not have jurisdiction topass such judgement or order, as long as the person doing the act in good faith believes the Court had such jurisdiction.

Case law

  • In the case of Kapur Chand versus State (1976), the accused (husband) had taken his wife's property from her control without her agreement, following a Magistrate's order. The spouse was found not guilty of any crime since he was protected under section 78 of the IPC.

Section 79

"Act done by a person justified, or by mistake of fact believing himself justified, by law" denotes nothing is a crime committed by someone who thinks himself to be justified by law, or who believes himself to be justified by law because of an error of fact rather than a mistake of law committed in good faith.

Case law

  • In the case of R v. Tolson (1889), In September 1880, the appellant and defendant married. In December 1881, the appellant went missing after the ship he was on sank in the sea. The defendant waited for her spouse (the appellant) for six years in the hopes that he would return. The defendant eventually remarried, believing her spouse is dead. After learning of his wife's (the defendant) remarriage, the appellant returned eleven months later and filed a bigamy appeal against her.The appellate court stated that Ms. Tolson was protected in this scenario by an old common law norm. The court found that an "honest and reasonable belief" in the presence of circumstances that, if true, would render the accused's actions innocent constituted a valid defense.
  • In the case of Chirangi v. State (1952) CRI LJ 1212, the accused, in a moment of delusion, mistook his kid for an animal and struck him with an axe. He was found to be justifiable under the section 84 of the Indian Penal Codesince he mistaken a human for a dangerous animal and was not held responsible for his blunder.

Sections 76 and 79 are founded on the maxims "ignorantia facti doth excusat” and “ignorantia Juris non excusat."

Section 80

"Accident in doing a lawful act," which means nothing in the performance of a legitimate act by lawful means and with due care and caution is an offense if it is accomplished by accident or adversity, and without any criminal intent or knowledge.

Case law

  • In the case of State of Orissa v. Khora Ghasi, 1978 CrL.1305, the accused fired an arrow at a moving object while guarding a field in the bona fide conviction that it was a bear, killing a man who was hiding there. Because his case was entirely covered by Sections 79 and 80 of the Code, the Court decided that he could not be held accountable for the murder.
  • In Tunda vs. Rex (AIR 1950 Allah 95)., two wrestling-obsessed pals competed in a wrestling match. One of them was injured and died as a result of his injuries. The second individual was charged under section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code. The High Court ruled that by agreeing to wrestle with each other, both parties impliedly accepted to be injured in the process. The act was deemed to be accidental in the absence of any foul play, and the case fell under section 80 of the IPC.

Section 81

"Act likely to cause harm, but done without criminal intent, and to prevent other harm." This section is founded on two maxims: "Quodnecessitas non habetlegem," which means "necessity knows no law," and "Necessitasvincitlegem," which means "necessity triumphs over law." It means nothing constitutes a crime just because it is done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause harm, as long as it is done in good faith, without any criminal intent to cause harm, and for the purpose of preventing or avoiding additional harm to person or property.

Case law

  • In the case of R v. Dudley and Stephens (1884), three adults and one kid were stranded in a ship after a shipwreck with neither food or water. Their food ran out seven days before the storm, and they were without water for five days. Dudley recommended sacrificing the young kid since he was too weak, so he killed the boy without Brooks' agreement; all three fed on the boy and were rescued four days later. The defense of necessity was not accepted in this instance, and they were convicted of murder.
  • In the instance of Dhania Daji, (1868) 5 BHC (CrC) 59, a person put poison in his toddy pots, knowing that if it was consumed by a human, it would cause damage, but with the goal of finding an unknown thief who was taking toddy from his pots. Some soldiers who bought the toddy from an unknown vendor drank it and were injured as a result. The man was found guilty under section 328, notwithstanding the fact that the section did not apply to him.
  • In the case of Carter v. Thomas, 1976, a fire accident occurred in the plaintiff's premises, and the firemen arrived and attempted to extinguish the fire, at the same time, the defendant also entered the plaintiff's premises to extinguish the fire by pouring water from a bucket, and the fire was eventually extinguished.The plaintiff filed an action against the defendant, alleging that he entered the plaintiff's property without authorization and that he was responsible for trespass.the defendant invoked the defense of necessity because it was essential to extinguish the fire. The court noticed that firemen had already arrived at the plaintiff's property to extinguish the fire. As a result, there was no necessity.As a result, thedefendant was found guilty of trespass by the court.

Section 82 and 83

S. 82 says, "Act of a child under seven years of age." And S. 83 states, "Act of a child above seven and under twelve of immature understanding." These sections signify that nothing is an infraction committed by a child under the age of seven or between the ages of seven and twelve who has not reached the maturity of understanding to determine the nature and consequences of his actions on that particular occasion.

Case law

  • In the case of Shyam Bahadur Koeri versus the State of Bihar (AIR 1967 Pat 312), a child under the age of seven uncovered a gold plate weighing 28 tolas. He didn't go to the Collector's office. When the Collector learned about this, he ordered the child to be prosecuted under the Indian Treasure Trove Act of 1878. The Court decided that because the accused's age is less than seven years, he is entitled to the benefit of section 82 of the IPC; hence the accused was acquitted.
  • In the instance of Ulla Mahapatra v. King AIR 1950 Orissa 262, an eleven-year-old kid threatens the victim, threatening to chop him into pieces while approaching towards him with a knife, and then murders the victim. The Court determined that the child's behaviour demonstrated that he was fully aware of the meaning of his remarks, that it was a threat, and that there was a weapon that fulfilled the criteria of assault. As a result of the child's intent to injure the victim, the Court found him guilty of the victim's murder.
  • In another case of Hiralal Mallick vs. State of Bihar (AIR 1977 SC 2236), the accused in this instance was a 12-year-old kid who had a disagreement with the victim. Armed with a sharp weapon, the accused struck the victim in the neck and skull many times. As a result, the victim died. The defendant has been charged with murder. The accused entered a not guilty plea under section 83 of the Indian Penal Code. The Court dismissed the accused's defense and found him guilty, finding that the accused's conduct of stabbing the victim with a sharp instrument demonstrated that he had reached a mature level of comprehension to determine the nature and consequences of his actions.

Section 84

"Act of a person of unsound mind," signifies that nothing is a crime committed by a person who is, at the moment of the act, incapable of recognizing the nature of the conduct or that he is doing something that is either unlawful or against the law due to Insanity.

Case law

  • In the case of Shrikant Anandrao Bhosale vs. State of Maharashtra (AIR 2002 SC 3399). The defendant was charged with murder. He pled defense under section 84 of the Indian Penal Code. In support of his claim, he cited his previous psychiatric treatment as well as the evidence of two medical experts who said the accused suffers from schizophrenia. The Court accepted the plea and acquitted the accused based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

Section 85

"Act of a person incapable of judgment by reason of intoxication caused against his will," insinuates nothing is an offense executed by a person who, at the time of doing it, is incapable of comprehending the nature of the act or that he is doing something that is either wrong or against the law because he is intoxicated; provided, however, that the thing that intoxicated him was administered to him without his knowledge or against his will.

Case law

  • The samewas held in the case in case of Bablu alias Mubarik Hussain vs State of Rajasthan RLW 2006 (4) Raj 2686, in which Alladeen claimed that the accused Bablu assaulted his wife and children on the evening of December 9, 2005, and that they were rescued thanks to his assistance. The next morning, about 5 a.m., his brother, the accused, said that he strangled his wife Anisha, daughters Gulfsha, Nisha, Anta, Munni, and son Babu one by one. According to the accused's brother, the bodies were on a mattress, each with a thread tied around their thumb. As a consequence, the police had opened an investigation into a crime under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. On the basis of the prosecution's proof, the Trial Court found the accused guilty of an offense under Section 302, which included his statement of the offense, his presence in the residence, and the recovery of his wife's earring from his possession. The accused's defence maintained that he was inebriated and unaware of the repercussions. Given the violence and insensitivity of the conduct committed by the accused, drinking cannot be used as an excuse in this case.The evidence demonstrate that the current case is, without a doubt, the rarest of the rare, worthy of the death penalty. The appeal had been dismissed.

Section 86

"Offense requiring a particular intent or knowledge committed by one who is intoxicated." This suggests in instances where conduct is not an offense unless accomplished with a specific understanding or objective, a person who does the act while intoxicated is liable to be treated as if he had the same knowledge as if he had not been intoxicated unless the substance that intoxicated him was provided to him without his understanding or against his will. In the case of voluntary drunkenness, wisdom is to be presumed in the same manner as if there was no drunkenness. If the Parliament had intended the phrase "intention" to be assumed even in the event of an act committed while inebriated, it might have been included in the second portion as well, but it is not. As a result, as in the case of knowledge, whether the accused had a purpose when doing an act cannot be inferred, as was decided in the landmark case of Mavari Surya Satyanaraina versus the state of AP.

Case law

  • The accused inMavari Surya Satyanarayana v. State of A.P, (1995) 1 [CrL] (689) suspected his wife of having an extramarital affair and clashed with her. He drank so much alcohol that day that he poured Kerosene on his wife and attempted to set her on fire. His wife managed to flee, but the accused apprehended her and poured kerosene on her again, setting her on fire. She died as a result of her injuries. He argued that he was inebriated. The Supreme Court, however, dismissed his defence, finding that he had failed in his initial effort to burn his wife, but that he was capable of running after her and catching her to carry out his horrible crime. The Supreme Court found him guilty and changed his sentence from Section 304 Part I that is punishment for 10 years to Section 302 punishment of death or life imprisonment. The second reason is that the mentality of the accused is afflicted to the point where he is unable to control his behaviour or even consider things correctly. In this example, McNaughton criteria were used, whereby indicates that a person's purpose must be taken into account at the moment of the crime's commission.

The McNaughton rule was the first legal test to identify criminal insanity. The test was developed in 1843 in England during the case in which McNaughton gunned down the Prime Minister's secretary, Edward Drummond, assuming he was the Prime Minister. Under this rule, every man is assumed to be mentally sound, and to assert a defence on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proven that, at the time of the offense, the party accused was toiling under such a defect of reason, from psychological disorder, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or, if he did know it, that he did not realize that what he was doing was illegal.

Section 87- 89 and 92

S. 87 says, "Act not intended and not known to be likely to cause death or grievous hurt, done by consent," and S. 88 states, "Act not intended to cause death, done by consent in good faith for person's benefit." Section 87 and 88 talk about acts not intended and not known to be likely to cause death or grievous hurt, done by consent in good faith for a person's benefit, respectively.

Case law

  • It was seen in R vs. Laskey, 1993, the absence of a good reason, the victim's consent is no defense, and the satisfaction of sadomasochistic desires does not constitute such a good reason. A group of such people participated in a consensual act of violence against each other for sexual gratification. They were charged with various offenses. They were convicted for causing harm to one another. If it is not in the interest of the public that an individual should not injure or cause substantial physical damage to another without any rational justification, and without such a rationale, the victims' consent attained is no defense.

S. 89 states, "Act done in good faith for benefit of child or insane person, by or by consent of guardian," and S. 92 states, "Act done in good faith for benefit of a person without consent." These two sections are in continuation with the above-mentioned sections (87 and 88).

Section 91

S. 87, 88, and 89 do not apply to S. 91. It describes a circumstance in which, notwithstanding the agreement granted, an act is an infraction not because of the harm inflicted but because the conduct is illegal in and of itself. The illustration given under section 91 of the IPC pertaining to the offense of miscarriage has become somewhat out of date, as pregnancy can now be terminated for a variety of reasons, not just to save the woman's life, under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

Section 93

"Communication made in good faith." A communication made in good faith does not constitute of an infraction if it is conducted for the benefit of the person to whom the communication is being made.

Section 94

"Act to which a person is compelled by threats." This means except for murder and crimes against the state punishable by death, nothing constitutes an offense if it is committed by a person who is driven to do so by threats that properly generate the apprehension that immediate death will otherwise be the result.

Case laws

  • In the case of R vs. sharp,1987, this defense was not permitted to an individual who voluntarily joined a criminal organization or gang with knowledge that the gang used loaded firearms to carry out robberies at the post offices and that the gang leader might bring pressure upon him to participate in such offices. Accordingly, he participated in a robbery under pressure in which the leader shot dead the supposed Master. His appeal against conviction for manslaughter was rejected.

Section 95: "Act causing slight harm." Nothing constitutes an offense that causes, or is intended to cause, or is known to be likely to cause, any harm if that harm is so minor that no person of ordinary sense and temper would complain about it, according to this section.

Sections 96 to 106

These sections talk about the right of private defense. Nothing done in the exercise of the right of personal defense constitutes an offense, according to Section 96. The primary idea underpinning the notion of the right of private defense is that when an individual or his property is threatened, and quick assistance from the state apparatus is unavailable, that individual is entitled to defend himself and his property.

Case law

  • In the case of Deo Narain v. State of U.P. (AIR 1973 SC 473), the Court stated that claiming the right to employ force only after suffering a major harm as a result of an aggressive unlawful assault is a total misconception. In this case, the accused utilized a spear while the opposing side targeted a lathi blow at his head. The Court said that using a weapon with him was justified since a lathi hit to the head may be lethal. It is not an excessive use of force.
  • In the instance of Amzad Khan v. Hazi Mohammad Khan, AIR 1952 SC 165, a mob killed or injured people in a neighborhood. The mob was pounding on the door, attempting to burst it open. For moving away from the agitated mob, the owner fired two rounds to preserve the lives of the captives. The court ruled that the use of force was not excessive.
  • The employees in Yogendra Morarji v. State of Gujarat, AIR 1980 SC 660, called for a strike. They were requesting pay increases. They stormed into the plant owner's office and began chanting slogans. They smashed the office's merchandise and furniture.

One worker was killed when the accused (Appellant) walked out of his room and fired a shot from his handgun. According to the Supreme Court, the accused inflicted more injury than was required, and hence he is not entitled to a private defence. The court also ruled that there was enough time to contact public authorities for assistance.


With respect to the aforementioned cases, an excusable act is one in which, regardless the fact that the individual has caused injury, it is stipulated that he should be pardoned since he cannot be held accountable. If the defendant has an excusable defense, he is not penalized because he lacks the required mens rea for the crime due to an honest misunderstanding of fact, immaturity, insanity, or drunkenness.

“General Exception” defenses are used when it is impossible to deduce a person's character from his actions.While determining whether the accusation in the complaint establishes a case for the commission of an offence or not, the police cannot ignore the general Exceptions provided under IPC in Chapter 4 of IPC.

"Loved reading this piece by Sharmishta?
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"

Tags :

Category Others, Other Articles by - Sharmishta