Aarushi 18 February 2022
The maxim “Res Ipsa Loquitur” is a Latin phrase which literally means “the thing speaks for itself”. A popular doctrine in the Law of Torts, this maxim is applied when there are sufficient evidences to prove the accused’s guilt. If there exists any evidence which clearly shows that the offence has been committed by the accused, this maxim comes into play. In Law of Torts, the burden of proof to show the defendant’s negligence lies on the plaintiff but when the first conclusion that can be drawn after seeing to the act of negligence that led to the damage by the defendant, points at the guilt of the defendant, the maxim of Res Ipsa Loquitur is used. The main condition while applying this maxim is that the evidence should directly point at the defendant’s fault in the damage caused, merely showing that the damage has been caused does not convict the accused. The maxim is only applicable in instances when the events that led to the damage were under the control of the defendant and if his negligence would not have occurred, the damage could have been prevented. The use of this maxim transfers the burden of proof from the plaintiff to the defendant.
Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Subhagwanti
In this case, the Clock Tower which was situated opposite the Town Hall in the main bazaar of Chandni Chowk collapsed and caused the death of a number of people. It was found that the building was 80 years old, but with the kind of mortar used, the life of such building was only 40-45 years. The Supreme Court held that the building’s fall clearly indicated a negligence on part of the Municipal Corporation, since it was the sole authority responsible for the maintenance of the Clock tower and the maxim of Res Ipsa Loquitur was applied.
Nihal Kaur v. Director, P.G.I., Chandigarh
In this case, scissors were left in the body of a patient after his operation which resulted in his death. The presence of scissors in the ashes after cremation proved this. The Court applied the maxim of Res Ipsa Loquitur and compensation of ₹ 1,20,000 was given to the family of the deceased.
Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation v. Krishnan
In an accident between two buses, the clash was as such that it resulted in cutting off of two left arms of two passengers. The Court observed that the accident itself shows negligence on part of the driver of the bus and defendant was convicted after applying the maxim of Res Ipsa Loquitur.