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Ignorantia juris non excusat

(Querist) 21 May 2012 This query is : Resolved 
Can anyone please explain this law with respect to doctors.
I heard that in case of an alleged alcoholic brought to the doctor, she must use reasonable force to draw a blood sample to accurately determine whether the person has sufficient blood alcohol levels to attribute the crime to intoxication.
If she, the doctor says the 'patient' was uncooperative it is not an excuse, she is bound by law to find this out.
Her later arguing that she was unaware of the law is also not an excuse on the basis of ignorantia juris non excusat - not knowing the law of land is not an excuse.
My questions-
Is there such a 'ignorantia juris non excusat' law in India, whom does it apply to?
Is my example accurate, are doctors bound by law to determine this fact using reasonable force?
How does the above law relate to section 76, 79 IPC- I read the sections but could find bo relationship to this.
Please help
Thank you
Adv.R.P.Chugh (Expert) 21 May 2012
I don't think the direction to the doctors to take blood alcohol levels is as such a mandate of law, it may be a mere direction. But if it is a law and is mandatory then no advocate can plead ignorance of the same, because laws based on logic, no person can deny that he does not know the law. Every person is supposed to know the law. Mistake of Law is no defence only mistake of fact is.
As regards S.76/79 - they excuse criminal acts done under mistake of fact. Hence only mistake of fact is exempted from criminal liability what naturally follows is mistake of law is not excusable.
Arvind Singh Chauhan (Expert) 21 May 2012
No such test can be if patient is not ready for the test. He can't be compelled to go through any test. But adverse inference may go against his uncooperative attitude.
Adv.R.P.Chugh (Expert) 21 May 2012
I disagree with Ld.Friend Arvind, there is no bar against subjecting the accused to any medical/intrusive tests etc. The doctrine against self incrimination u/a 20(3) is not violated at all, because a person merely by taking his blood sample or conducting tests is not being compelled to be a witness against himself. 20(3) is attracted only on testimonial compulsion. Something in exlcusive knowledge of accused. Not objectively examinable tests/results.

As regars right to privacy angle - right to privacy and bodily integrity has to give way to larger societal interest in crime detection and vindication. (See Kathi Kalu Oghad v. State 1961 - 11 judges bench)
Dr. Libin Thomas Manathara (Querist) 21 May 2012
Thank you for the prompt and succinct reply. I have two further doubts.
Could you please elaborate in 'mistake of fact'. What does it mean?
Also, do forgive my ignorance, you have stated 'if it is a law', how can I find out if it is a law?
Thank You
Dr V. Nageswara Rao (Expert) 22 May 2012
1. 'Ignorance of law is no excuse' is a principle of Common Law followed in India also. It is not expressly stated in any statute. Perhaps, it is implied in S. 76 IPC.
2. It is only S. 53 (1) of CrPC which empowers a police officer to request a registred medical practitioner to conduct an examination of the accused and to use reasonable force necessary for the purpose.Thus, a doctot can examine the accused only at the request of a police officer an d not on his own.
3. Even in the recent Selvi v. Karnataka, the Supreme Court did not strike down S. 53 as violative of Art. 20 or 21.
4. Acting on his own and under S. 53, doctor can exmamine if the patient cooperates and cannot use any force.
5. The bar of mistake of law is absolute. Otherwise every criminal wil take that plea.
Shonee Kapoor (Expert) 22 May 2012
I concur with expert opinion of Ld. Chugh and Ld. Rao.


Shonee Kapoor
Dr. Libin Thomas Manathara (Querist) 25 May 2012
Superb Reply Sirs
Thank You one and all for your time and expert opinions

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