MEANING OF NEGLIGENCE
Before getting into the topic of death by negligence we have to understand the concept and meaning negligence. meaning of negligence situation in which one person acted in such a manner where he did not pay enough care or attention to someone or something and that act of the person amounts to injury to some others property and in some other situations even the death is being caused only the negligence is being considered only when the person who is committing some act is not aware or not have the knowledge of the result.
For understanding the concept of negligence, it consists of 4 elements as follows-
- DUTY- in this element the job of the defendant to call its act negligent he needs to take the legal duty of care towards the plaintiff.
- BREACH OF DUTY- in this element the court sees whether the defendant had acted as a prudent ordinary man or not, it means whether he knew the outcome or not, therefore, it amounts to be a breach of duty.
- CAUSATION- in this element the plaintiff needs to prove that the act of the defendant had caused injury to him and also the action of the defendant damages the plaintiff and property of the plaintiff.
- DAMAGES- in this element the court has the power to make the defendant pay for the damages that he caused to the plaintiff because of his negligent act.
WHAT IS SECTION 304A IPC?
In the year 1860 the INDIAN PENAL CODE was enforced in India at that time of enactment there was no provision related to negligence so, after 10 years in the year 1870, the amendment made in the INDIAN PENAL CODE and the section 304A of IPC was inserted.
causing death by negligence, whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 2 years, or fine, or with both. to attract this section, it needs to be proven that the defendant had no intention of what will be the outcome.
in the case of RAVI KAPUR VS STATE OF RAJASTHAN, it is important to prove that to attract the section of 304A it needs to prove that the death of the person is caused due to the negligent act of the defendant. in this, the person “M” died due to electrocution by naked copper wire and that wire held to be lethal enough to kill someone and this case the accused is held liable only for the section 304A IPC.
CRIMINAL AND CIVIL ASPECT OF NEGLIGENT ACT
the negligent act can be both criminal and civil offence, in this view, the act can be of civil only when the act of the accused results in the injury of the deceased in this the court make the accused pay for the damages caused to the plaintiff by causing injury to him and his property.
on the other hand, the act can be criminal only when the act of the accused caused the death of the deceased then the person held to be liable of death of that person and he is punishable with imprisonment of 2 years and fine to pay.
CONCEPT OF RASH AND NEGLIGENT ACT
- the rash act is the act which is a hasty and intentional act of hurting someone and damaging the property.
- the rash act is done without any care and caution.
- the rash act is a criminal act that depends upon the recklessness of the act.
- a negligent act is an act in which the accused is not aware of the result which may be a death of the deceased individual.
- in this act, the plaintiff should have suffered an injury to himself or property from the act of the defendant.
- the act can be of civil and criminal offence depend upon the grave nature of the crime.
DEFENCE AFTER CAUSING DEATH BY NEGLIGENCE
1) Contributory negligence
in this Defence, the negligence is contributed by both the parties which are accused and deceased. for example, person “A” installed a light pole on the street but without the permission of the authorities and another person “B” hit by that pole and the court of the opinion is that street light was very bright and the pole was visible hence person “A” cannot be held liable.
2) Act of god
in this defence, the act which damages the personal property is because of the act of God which ultimately damage someone’s property.
for example, person “A” builds house beside person “B” house but one-day heavy rain comes and the newly built house (which was pretty well constructed) collapse and damage person “B” house so it is an act of god and cannot hold person “A” liable.
3) Inevitable accident
An inevitable accident is such series of activities in which the person has paid due care and caution but still, the accident cannot be prevented and if the death is being caused due to inevitable accident then the plea or defence of negligence can be taken.
BROWN V. KENDAL , the plaintiffs and defendants’ dogs were fighting and defendant trying to remove them from fighting but accidentally he hit the eye of plaintiffs in this situation he can take up the defence of negligence as it is an inevitable accident.
In PRABHAKARAN V. STATE OF KERALA , the court held that the section 304A only applied in the cases of rash and negligent acts and does not apply to a situation where intentional death was caused. section 304A applies only to the scenario of where the intention was not there to kill or harm someone and no knowledge was there about the probability of someone’s death.
When a death is caused by the minor, he should not be punished for an offence of which he never knew the outcome. section 304A should be considered non-bailable offence or at least compensation should be paid to the deceased. it is a well-drafted provision in which it is a defence for the offence which has been done without the knowledge.
1] 60 Mass 292 (1850).
This blog is written by Shivam Ujjainwal, Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies.
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