Edited by – Kartikey Raja

This article is written by Shivanjali M Mane, a law student of KLE Law College Chikodi.


From 1860, IPC was the only statute to deal with criminal matters. These laws were made to prevent the criminal activities and maintain the peace and harmony in the society. But, certain time even if accused commits the crime he is not liable for the punishment. This blog attempts to give brief overlook about the general exception in IPC along with case laws and illustrations.


Indian penal code was drafted in the year 1860. This code came into force by the recommendation of Law Commission of India. This law made to prevent the criminal activities and to maintain peace and security. There are 23 chapters basically, chapter 4 deals about General Exception. Starts from section 76 to 106


If an individual commits any offence he can be exempted from criminal liability if his act is being covered under any of the General Exceptions mentioned under chapter 4 of section 76 to section 106. This are divided into two kinds basically:

  • Justifiable exception
  • Excusable exception
  • Private defense

Justifiable defense

If the person can justify under the law act done by him then he can plea the defense under justifiable defense. Sometimes under the normal condition this act is wrongful but under special circumstance it not considered as punishable.

  1. Judicial Act (section 77-78)

Section 77 to section 78 deals about judicial act Section 77[1] deals that any act of a judge will not amount to offence if the act is done judiciary in good faith by exercising the power given or believed to the given to him by law. Section 78 speaks about exemption to the acts done in a pursuance’s of judgment or order of a court by a person in good faith believing that court has such jurisdiction.

Illustration – a judge will not be held liable for murder after giving death penalty to a convict

Case laws

In a case of Meghana Raj vs. Zakir[2] , court held that a person who is acting judicially will not be liable for an act done or ordered to be done in the discharge of hid official duty but within the limits of jurisdiction. He will get a defense under section 78[3] of IPC.

  • Necessity (section 81[4] )

It says that if an act likely to cause harm done without criminal intent and to prevent harm in good faith to a person or properly will not amount to offence. If a person does a harm to avoid greater harm without any criminal intent in good faith will get the defense of necessity.

Illustration- A the caption of a ship, suddenly and without any felt or negligence on his part, finds himself in such a position that, before he can stop his ship. He is going to run down a boat B with twenty passengers, if he changes the direction of his ship, he is going to run down another boat C with five passengers. Having knowledge to avoid the direction of his ship and ran down boat C causing the harm to boat C. Here he will get the defense of necessity as he commits the act in good faith to avoid the greater harm.

Excusable Defense

The act in which means read is absent that act covered under excusable defense. The act where there is no any criminal intent or mind to do that act. The person who commits the crime don’t have guilty mind during the commission of crime. So any act in such nature not within the preview of crime and come under excusable defense.

  1. Insanity (section 84)

Section 84[5] of the act deals about the act done by a person of unsound mind will not be considered as an offence. During the commission of the act the person should not be capable of knowing the nature of the act, or the act is either wrong or contrary to law. A person who is not sane from his birth, a person who is not of sound mind due to some disease or a lunatic person who became unsound for a certain period of time can plead for the defense of Insanity.

Illustration- if a person throws his child from the terrace thinking that the child is an angle so he will fly but child died inanity after hitting the ground. The person in such case gets the defense under mentally not fit and unable to think that then child is normal child.

Case laws

In the case Surendra Mishra vs. State of Jharkhand[6] , it was held that every person suffering from mental illness cannot be ipso facto exempted from criminal liability

In case of Ratan Lal vs. State of Madhya Pradesh[7], it was held that the person needs to unsound mind during the commission of an offence to get defense.

If the individual on the condition of intoxication commits an offence, he will not liable for punishment. But the condition is such intoxication in against his will and without his knowledge.

Illustration- if ‘A’ mixes alcohol in person ‘B’ cold drinks without his knowledge and after consuming that ‘A’ punches on the face of ‘C’ he will not liable for the crime.

Case laws

In the case Mirza Ghani Baig vs. State of Andhra Pradesh[8], it was held that voluntarily drinking is not as excuse to commission of crime. And this defense is not available.

In case of Basdev vs. State of Pepsu[9], when an intoxicated person shot a boy in the abdomen and killed him on the spot because he asked the boy to move a little and boy refused to that.

Courts considered the person sober and for intention it was consider that the reason behind it was the degree of intoxication and the general circumstances of the case.

Private defense (Section 96-106)

Under the private defense of the IPC a man is given authority to use necessary force against wrong doer for the purpose of protecting one’s own body and property and also anthers body and property when immediate aid from the state machinery is not readily available and in so doing he is not answerable in law for his deeds and he will be not held guilty for an offence. Section 99 says there is no right to private defense against act which do not cause reasonable apprehension of death or of grievous hurt or if there is a reasonable time to have recourse to the protection of public authority or inflicting of more harm it is necessary to inflict for the purpose of defense.

Illustration- A dog attacks a child in order to protect the child a men shots dog. Here he will not hold liable as he is excising to private’s defense to protect the body of the child.

Case law

In Mohinder pal Jollly vs. State of Punjab[10], some workers were shouting slogans for demands outside the factory. Some brickbats were also throne by them which damaged the property of the owner after that owner fired two shots from outsides his office room, one of which killed a worker. The court held that it was a case of mischief and the accused will not get the defense of right to private defense.


Every offense is not absolute, they have certain exception. When IPC was drafted it was assumed that there were no exceptions in criminal cases which were a major loophole so some sections introduced as an exception.

So, this was the general exceptions which are available to the accused to escape liability or save him from offence. Keeping the view of democratic character of our country these exceptions was introduced in the IPC.

[1] Indian Penal Code, Section 77, (1860)

[2] (1876) ILR 1 ALL 280

[3] Indian Penal Code, Section 78, (1860)

[4] Indian Penal Code, Section 81, (1860)

[5] Indian Penal Code, section 84, (1860)

[6] (2011), (11) SCC 495

[7] (2002), (7) SCC 627

[8] (1997) (2) Crimes (AP) (DB)

[9] (1956) SCR 363

[10] AIR 1979 SC 577

Written by –

Author Name – Shivanjali M Mane

Published on – 12/08/2020