Section 80 IPC: Immunity to Accused

  1. Definition and Meaning
  2. Requirements-
    1. Accident or Misfortune
    2. Absence of Criminal Intention or Knowledge
    3. A  Lawful Act, in a Lawful manner by Lawful Means
    4. With Proper Care and Caution
  3. Relevant cases

Definition and Meaning

Section 80 of IPC, it works as immunity or defence to the accused with some exceptions and requirements to be fulfilled.  It does not allow anyone to misuse the given immunity by adding exceptions and requirements to be fulfilled.

Section 80. Accident in doing a lawful act.- Nothing is an offense 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.

In other words,  an act should not be considered offensive, if an act is done by accident or misfortune, or 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.

Here nothing is an offense, gives an exception in our constitution which provides immunity to accused in an accident. 

Requirements for the application of section 80 are as follows:

(a)Accident or Misfortune

The accident word is derived from Latin word accident, signifying “fall upon, befall, happen or chance”. The act which is unintentional and unexpectedly done, without any contribution of human fault. If the effect causes hurt under, under circumstances, in such reasonable precautions as a reasonable man should take care of, then the effect of an act is accidental. There must be no negligence on behalf of the accused. The incident should be unknown by the doer.  The act must be accidental and not the act which causes the effect.

The term “misfortune” connotes bad luck, or unlucky, and acts which are unpleasant. The misfortune, in section 80, refers to the same.  Misfortune and accident both are the same, but the only difference between them is, accident results in the hurt of another person (accused) whereas misfortune results in the hurt of the person, one who is accused, and the doer. Thus, misfortune or accident does not mean only an occurrence of the unintended and unintentional incident but also connotes that action resulted in the injury of another person.

(b)Absence of Criminal Intention or Knowledge

for the application of the section80, it is essential that the act was done without any criminal intention or knowledge, it must be without men’s rea or guilty mind. Injuries caused due to accidents in games and sports are covered by this section.

(c) A Lawful Act, in a Lawful manner by Lawful Means

To get the immunity of section 80, it is relevant that the act should be an accident, done without any criminal intention or knowledge, followed by a lawful act in a lawful manner.

(d) With Proper Care and Caution

The act considered to be an accident, it is highly required that the said lawful act should also have been under proper care and caution, even there would be no utmost care, though the act must be under sufficient and caution as a reasonable man could take, in the circumstances of the particular case.

If the given requirement is not fulfilled by the accused, then, is not entitled to the benefit of section 80.

Estimated Data

In 2019, an estimated 38,800 people lost their lives to car crashes-2% decline from 2018(39,404 deaths) and a 4% decline from 2017(40,231 deaths).

Approximately 1.35 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,700 people lose their lives every day on the roads.

Relevant cases

1. Sukhdev Singh v. Delhi state(govt. Of NCT of Delhi)[1],  the record on facts disclosing that the accused, during the scuffle,  had deliberately shot the deceased, on behalf of that the supreme court declined to give the benefit of section 80 to the accused-appellant as his act was not accidental.

2. Shankar Narayan Bhaskar v. the State of Maharashtra[2],  the supreme court refused to entitle section 80 to the accused, who picked up a gun, unlocked it, loaded it with cartridges, and shot dead, from close range, one of the invitees for dinner at his place. It held that the act of the accused was without proper care and caution, and deliberate.


[1] (2003)7 SCC 41

[2] AIR 2004 SC 1966

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