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Accident (IPC)

Updated: May 12

Accident (IPC)
Accident (IPC)


Section 80 - Accident

Sec. 80. Accident in doing a lawful act - “Nothing is an offence, which is done by accident or misfortune- 

  • without criminal intention or knowledge

  • in the doing of a lawful act in a lawful manner by lawful means, and

  • with proper care and caution.”

Illustration: A is at work with a hatchet; the head flies off and kills a man who is standing by. Here, if there was no want of proper caution on A’s part, his act is excusable and not an offence.

    An accident is an event that occurs unexpectedly, outside the usual course of events. It implies something fortuitous and unforeseen. An injury is considered accidentally caused when it arises under circumstances beyond normal expectation.

For instance, in a game of cricket, if a ball strikes a man on the head, resulting in his death, it is deemed accidental. Similarly, if a racing driver, like X, is involved in a race and collides with a barricade due to engine malfunction, causing a tyre to hit a spectator, X is not held liable.


In Tunda v Rex, where two wrestlers arranged a match and one died after falling and breaking his skull, the High Court ruled it as accidental, given the absence of foul play and the implied acceptance of potential injuries by participating in the match. Section 87 (defence of consent) was also applicable in this case.

Further examples include scenarios like A pointing a gun at B in jest without checking if it's loaded, resulting in B's death. Such a death is not accidental due to A's lack of proper care.

However, if A reasonably believed the gun was unloaded, the death would be considered accidental. Similarly, if A attempts to pickpocket B, unknowingly triggering a loaded pistol in B's pocket and causing B's death, it would be deemed accidental and not culpable homicide.

When an action is carried out deliberately and without due care and caution, it does not qualify for the benefit of being labelled as an accident. An illustrative case is that of a host at a wedding who, unlocking his pistol and loading it with cartridges, ends up shooting one of the dinner invitees at close range.

This scenario, exemplified in Shankar Narayan Bhadolkar v State of Maharashtra, underscores the issue of "celebratory firing" at marriages. In such instances, where there is a clear risk to attendees, the act cannot be considered to have been performed with proper care and caution.

The fundamental condition for an act to fall under the exception of accident is that it must have been executed "with proper care and caution," as established in Bhupender Singh A. Chudasama v State of Gujarat.

In this case, involving police constables stationed to safeguard a dam site, one constable shot and killed his colleague at close range during the night without identifying the target. The court ruled that the accused's action lacked proper care and caution and could not be categorised as an accident or misfortune. Additionally, it was deemed an unlawful act.


Case Laws

In Kong Poh Ing v Public Prosecutor [1997] 2 MLJ 199, the accused, engaged in a relationship with the victim, had promised marriage. When the victim declined, the accused attempted suicide. During the struggle to prevent the suicide attempt, the victim was inadvertently stabbed. The court acquitted the accused.

In State of Orissa v Khora Ghasi, 1978 CrLJ 1305, the accused, guarding a field, fired an arrow at a moving object, believing it to be a bear, unintentionally killing a man hiding there. As his case fell squarely under Secs. 79 and 80 of the Code, the Court concluded that he could not be held liable for murder.

Similarly, in Shabir Khan v Crown (1931), during a hunting expedition, the accused shot at a charging boar but missed, accidentally hitting a member of the party and causing his death. The court ruled the death to be accidental, not the result of reckless or negligent shooting.

It must be noted that both the words accident and misfortune indicate injury to a person. However, under accidents, the harm from the incident only affects the victim; under misfortune, the harm from the incident may affect both the victim and the doer of the act.

For example, in State v Rangaswamy (1952), A and B both went to the jungle to shoot wild rats, and both took their positions. After some time, some sound was heard, and A, believing it to be a wild rat, fired in that direction.

Unfortunately, the shot caused B’s death. It was held that A was not liable for the death as the death resulted from an accident. But, where two persons driving a car collide with each other. And, this resulted in injuries to drivers of both vehicles. It will be a case of misfortune.

If an accident occurs during the commission of an unlawful act, Sec. 80 does not apply. For instance, if X, a thief, hits a street vendor while escaping from the police, X cannot claim the benefit of Sec. 80.

Similarly, if A shoots at a bird in B's house to steal it and accidentally kills B, A is liable since stealing is unlawful. In Jogeshwar v Emperor (24 Cri LJ 789), the accused accidentally hit his wife while intending to strike another person, resulting in the death of their 2-month-old child. Despite the accidental nature of the act, it was deemed unlawful.

However, if there is no causal connection between the unlawful act and the resulting harm, Sec. 80 may still apply. For example, if X, possessing an unlicensed gun, accidentally injures Y while shooting a jackal in the jungle, unaware of Y's presence, Sec. 80 may be invoked.

Although carrying the gun without a licence is unlawful, it did not contribute to the harm caused to Y, as the injury would have occurred even with a licensed gun. Therefore, the unlawfulness of carrying the gun without a licence does not factor into the harm caused.


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