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Act of Child (IPC)

Updated: May 12

Act of Child (IPC)
Act of Child (IPC)


Secs. 82-83: Act of Infant/Child [Defence of Immaturity]

Sec. 82. Act of a child under seven years of age - “An act of a child under seven years is no offence.” It's worth noting that this immunity isn't limited to offences under the Indian Penal Code alone but extends to offences under any special or local law.

In England, an act of a child under 10 years old is not considered an offence.

The Indian Penal Code, in Sections 82 and 83, grants exemption from criminal liability when the individual committing the crime is deemed to be incapable of forming the necessary intent due to infancy. Indeed, there is an absolute immunity or incapacity for crime under the age of 7 (Sec. 82).


When a child is below 7 years old, there is conclusive proof of the child's incapacity to understand the nature of their acts, leading to no possibility of criminal liability.

However, when an act is committed by a child between the ages of 7 and 12, they can be held liable if it can be proven that they had the maturity to comprehend the nature and consequences of their actions (Sec. 83); this establishes a qualified immunity in such cases.

An infant is, by legal presumption, considered doli incapax (incapable of wrongdoing), meaning they lack the discretion to distinguish right from wrong, thus eliminating the question of criminal intention.

In cases where individuals induce crimes through children under 7 years old, they will be held liable while the child will be exempted.

Section 83 states that acts committed by children above seven and below twelve can be protected from punishment if it can be demonstrated that the child lacked sufficient maturity to understand the nature and consequences of their actions at that time.

It's important to note that complete liability for punishment begins at the age of 12.

In a particular case, a 10-year-old girl entered into a second marriage while her first husband was still alive, with the marriage arranged and facilitated by her mother.

If the girl demonstrated sufficient maturity of understanding (i.e., doli capax), she would be held liable for bigamy. 

Similarly, if a 9-year-old child stole a gold necklace and sold it to someone for a nominal amount, such as half a rupee, it would indicate that the child had reached a level of understanding sufficient to comprehend the nature and consequences of their actions. 

The maxim "malitia supplet aetatem" (malice supplies defect of years) is applicable to Section 83. In certain circumstances, the details of a case may reveal a level of malice that justifies invoking this maxim.

Illustrative Case Laws

  • In Heeralal Mallick v State of Bihar (AIR 1977 SC 2236), an 11-year-old child engaged in a dispute with the victim. Armed with a sharp weapon, the child repeatedly struck the victim in the neck and skull, resulting in the victim's death. Despite the defendant's age, the Court dismissed his defence and found him guilty. The child's actions, including verbal threats, gestures, and use of a weapon, indicated a level of understanding sufficient to comprehend the nature and consequences of his actions.

  • In the case of Shyam Bahadur Koeri v. State of Bihar (AIR 1967 Pat 312), a child under the age of 7 stumbled upon a gold plate weighing 28 tolas. Instead of reporting it to the Collector's office, the child kept it. When authorities discovered this, the child was ordered to be prosecuted under the Indian Treasure Trove Act, 1878. The Court ruled that since the accused was under 7 years old, he was entitled to the protection of Section 82 of the IPC, and thus acquitted.

  • In Ullah Mahapatra v King (AIR 1950 Ori. 262), a child around 12 years old threatened the victim with a knife, stating he would chop him into pieces, and subsequently murdered the victim. The Court found that the child's actions indicated full awareness of the meaning of his threats, the presence of a weapon, and the intent to cause harm. Consequently, the Court convicted him of murder. It was also emphasised that in cases of doubt regarding the child's age, the benefit of the doubt should be given to the child.

  • In the prosecution of an 11-year-old child for throwing a brick at a police vehicle and fleeing the scene, it was determined that his appearance alone did not establish normality regarding criminal responsibility. The key consideration was whether the child understood that his actions were seriously wrong and surpassed mere childish mischief. Simply running away was not enough to negate the presumption of doli incapax. A mischievous child might flee from a parent or teacher even for non-criminal behaviour.

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