OFFENCE OF MISCHIEF UNDER INDIAN LAW
Mischief is determined under section 425 of IPC. In fact, the section correlates to the offense in English law known as "malicious injury to property" in which malice is assumed from the nature of the act commissioned and its illegitimacy. Section 425 of the IPC established on the principle specified in the maxim "Sec utare two ut allenum non leadus" which refers to using your own property, so as to not harm your neighbour’s or any other person's property.
As per section 425 of the IPC, the mischief is described as:
Whoever with intent to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to the public or to any person, causes the destruction of any property, or any such change in any property or in the situation thereof as destroys or diminishes its value or utility, or affects it injuriously, commits “mischief”.
A voluntarily hits costly security belonging to X with the intention to cause wrongful harm to X. A has commissioned mischief.
Causes cattle to get inside a field who is the owner was X, with an intention to cause and aware that he is likely to cause harm to X's crops. A has commissioned mischief.
A knowledge or intention of likelihood to cause wrongful damage or loss to:
any individual (mens rea of mischief);
2. Creating destruction to some property oy any modification in it or in its position, and
3. Such modification must diminish or destroy its utility or value or affect it injuriously.
Detailed Analysis of Mischief under Indian Law:
1. Knowledge or Intention to cause wrongful damage or loss;
a) The bare fact that any damage or loss was caused to the property would, by itself be not adequate cause to establish mischief unless the intention of the culprit was to cause wrongful damage or wrongful loss to the individual treated. For example, where either knowledge or intention is present, then the act will be lead to mischief such as;
Where the intention is present:
A voluntarily threw a ring belonging to Z into the river with an intention to cause wrongful loss to Z. A has commissioned mischief.
Where knowledge is present:
A was aware by blocking the canal through which B has a right to draw water to his land will cause wrongful loss to B and still A blocks it. A has commissioned mischief.
When neither knowledge nor intention is present:
Where the accused thought in good faith that he had a right to do the act, even if in law he did not have that right, it was established that he lacked the knowledge or intention that he was likely to cause wrongful damage or wrongful loss, hence no mischief is commissioned.
b) Wrongful damage or loss:
The incorporation of the term 'damage' combined with wrongful loss makes it evident that the laws wanted to bring within the scope of the offense, not just the actions that outcomes in wrongful loss but also examples of all kinds of damage by unlawful means which involves diminishing of value or property invasion of right, etc.
2. Causing destruction of any property or any change in it;
a) To establish the offense of mischief there must be the presence of destruction of property. It was laid down by courts, even the small damage is adequate to establish the offense of mischief if other elements are established. For example, X causes a shop to be emptied, intending thereby to cause harm o Y who has lent money on bottomry on the shop. X has commissioned mischief.
b) The term "change" given in section 425 refers to a physical change in the form or composition of the property. It considers harm to property from a physical cause.
3. Diminishes or Destroys the utility or value:
The phrase "change in property" so as to diminish or destroy its utility or value does not essentially refer to a change in character, form, or composition. If something is done to the property opposite to its natural serviceability and usage that diminished or destroys its utility or value, it will amount to mischief.
Punishment for mischief is provided in section 426
Whoever commissions mischief shall be punished with imprisonment of either a term which may be more than 3 months or with a fine or both.
Mischief, like other offenses under IPC, constitutes of the mental aspect, mens rea, and physical aspect actus rea. The first lies in the offender's intent to cause or knowing that he is most likely to cause wrongful damage or loss to any individual or the public, while, actus rea for mischief is the destroying of property to any change in its composition that diminishes or destroys its utility or value.
Written by Parul Sharma