The Indian penal code, 1860 (IPC) is a substantive criminal law which defines different offences as crime and provides its punishment; the procedural or adjectival law is contained in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC). The Criminal Law includes further imprisonment that varies from case to case. But a person doesn't always need to be punished for a crime that he/she had committed. Section 80 is recognized defences under "General Exceptions" in Chapter IV. These protections are protected by the assumption that an individual is not responsible for the crime committed. These defences depend on the circumstances that exist at that time, the metre of the individual and the reasonableness of the accused's conduct. The Indian Evidence Act also forms part of criminal law and addresses the evidence value of criminal proceedings. Section 80 is an accident in doing a lawful act and is read with section 304 A states causing death by negligence, of the IPC.
- Chapter IV objective includes Exceptional cases where an individual can avoid liability and make the development of code easier by avoiding the duplication of criminal exceptions. Since not all offences are absolute, they have several exceptions. When IPC was introduced, it was believed that there were no exceptions which were a huge loophole in criminal cases.
- Section 80 states that "Nothing is an offence which is done by accident or misfortune and without any criminal intention or knowledge in the doing of a lawful act in a lawful manner by lawful means and with proper care and caution". The immunity provided for in section 80 applies only to the extent that if the act is the result of an accident or a misfortune. However, to put an event into the legal definition of the word accident, an important condition is that the occurrence must be one that does not lead due to human fault.
- Accidents have been recognized as a valid exception to criminal liability. Still, certain conditions have to be fulfilled that are: the act done does not involve any intention or motive or knowledge, it happened while doing a lawful act by lawful means and in a lawful manner, and lastly there was proper care and caution taken by the parties.
- It is important for the implementation of the section that establishes the fact that the act was carried out without any criminal knowledge or intent. That is, Mens Rea should be absent as an act that has motive or knowledge of becoming a convict cannot be an accident.
- The prosecution usually needs to prove its case against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. But in special cases, as provided for in Section 105 of the Evidence Act, an applicant needs to show that there is a general exception in crimes.
- Further, section 8 The Indian Evidence Act 1872 defines motive as "a reason for doing something", so the reason behind doing any act is said to be motive, and it is a relevant fact as a piece of evidence for proving any fact in issue. If the motive is proved, then the incident cannot be an accident.
- Section 15 of The Indian Evidence Act 1872 talks about "fact bearing on the question whether the act was accidental or intentional", to identify whether the act was accidental or intentional it is necessary to see that the act is not a part of a series of similar occurrence to be an accident or else it is said to be done intentionally.
- Section 87 of IPC is also a relevant section when it comes to the application of section 80 as "it states that any unintended and unknown act to cause death or grievous harm, performed by consent of the parties". However, grievous injury or death is caused, but there was prior consent of the parties, and it was accidental.
- Section 304 A states that "Anyone who causes the death of any person by doing any reckless or negligent act that does not amount to guilty homicide, shall be punished with either definition being imprisoned for a term that may extend to two years, or with fine, or both."
- It means that if a party proves that the opposite party was negligent while doing an act, then section 80 stated general exception could not be availed. And the negligent party will mandatorily serve a sentence of maximum two years or with fine or both as per the circumstances of the cases.
- In the case of The Allahabad High Court in Tundra v/s Rex, facts were two friends participated in a wrestling competition where one was grievously injured. The other friend was charged under Section 304 A of IPC for negligence. The court held that both the person participated voluntarily with agreed consent and no proof of foul play was there, it was held that the act was accidental and fell under the ambit of section 80 and 87 of IPC.
- In this case, Sita Ram v/s State of Rajasthan, the facts were the accused was digging a hole in the earth with a spade. The deceased came there to collect mud at that time the spade struck him on the head, and he succumbed to injuries. The HC of Rajasthan held that there was no due care and caution on the part of the accused. Therefore section 304 A was applied, and he was convicted.
- In the case of Atmendra v/s State of Karnataka, facts were the accused had shot at the deceased and argued that it was a gun-fire accident as the deceased swung to the accused by the reaper. The evidence provided suggests a disagreement emerged between them. The SC charged the accused according to IPC section 302, as it was claimed to be a deliberate incident as it was said to be intentional.
It can be concluded that for application of section 80 the facts and circumstances of the case have to be interpreted keeping in mind section 87 and 304 A of IPC as well as section 8 and 15 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Further, there was no criminal intention or knowledge about the act that has to be proved.