Mischief under Indian law
The definition of mischief is mentioned under Section 425 of IPC & the punishment is prescribed under Section 426 of IPC. Further Section 427 to 440 lays down the specific punishment prescribed for aggravated forms of mischief depending upon the nature & the value of the property damage.
As per the Section 425 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as IPC) that whenever anyone performs an act either having an intention to cause or is aware that his act is likely to bring, some destruction or damage to any property, destroying or diminishing its value and utility, hence, resulting in an undue loss or damage to the public or any person is said to commit mischief.
In simpler terms, it can be understood as when an individual intends to perform an act or has the knowledge that his/her act will create hindrance in allowing another person to enjoy the benefit of their property by one means or other, it is called a mischief. However, this act can be even against the public or against a specific person as well.
For a simple understanding, some examples of mischief that can be seen are:
‘A’ destroys a car jointly owned by ‘A’ and ‘B’, intending wrongful loss to ‘B
‘A’, a student takes a copy of the question paper before the exam in order to diminish its utility.
‘A’ damages important documents belonging to ‘B’, intending wrongful loss to ‘B’.
‘A’ causes cattle to enter into the property of ‘B’ so as to cause damage to his crops.
‘A’ deliberately throws a ball at the neighbor’s window.
Purpose of mischief
The Law of Mischief under IPC is specifically drafted with an objective to provide protection against the destruction of property causing any wrongful loss or damage to the public or an individual. It is an extension to the legal maxim sic utretuoleadas which means “use your own property, but not in a way that can injure your neighbour’s or other’s property.”
Onkar and Anr. Vs. Kapoorchand And Anr. On 4 August, 1965
Facts: On 21st April, 1962 Kapoorchand-opposite party No. 1 presented a complaint in the court of First Class Magistrate, Tonk, against the petitioners Onkar and Bajranga accusing them for an offence under Section 427, Indian Penal Code. The allegations in the complaint are that the opposite party is the manager of a ‘dharmshala’ constructed by his father Seth Chhaganlal and that there was a lime kiln in the dharmshala.
On 17th April, 1962 the accused petitioners destroyed the kiln and caused damage to the extent of Rs. 200 On 1st May, 1962 the Magistrate recorded the statement of the complainant and further examined two witnesses Ramkaran and Chatra and ordered that the complaint be taken on file for an offence under Section 426, Indian Penal Code. Processes were issued to the accused-petitioners for answering a charge under Section 426, Indian Penal Code. An offence under Section 426, Indian Penal Code, was triable as a summons case.
The Magistrate acting under Section 242, Criminal P. C. stated to the accused particulars of the offence of which they were accused and asked them whether they had any cause to show why they should not be convicted. The accused pleaded not guilty. The Magistrate held a trial in accordance with the procedure prescribed for a summons case, examined the prosecution evidence, recorded the statements of the accused and examined the witnesses produced by the accused and eventually convicted them of an offence under Section 426 Indian Penal Code and sentenced each one of the petitioners to a fine of Rs. 40, and in default, one month’s simple imprisonment.
Held: In the present case the Magistrate not only took the case on file under Section 426 and issued processes to the accused to answer the charge under Section 426 but he also proceeded to hold an enquiry into the offence treating the offence as one under Section 426, Indian Penal Code. It is true that the Magistrate had not cared to look at the provisions of Sections 426 and 427 Indian Penal Code while commencing the trial. Even while stating the particulars of the offence the Magistrate referred to the damage to the extent of Rs. 200 alleged to have been caused to the complainant.
The manner in which the particulars of the offence were stated to the accused, I must say was far from satisfactory, yet there can be difficulty in arriving at a conclusion that he commenced the trial for an offence under Section 426 Indian Penal Code. There is thus a fundamental difference in the facts of the case AIR 1942 Mad 594 and the facts of the present case inasmuch as in the present case a trial for an offence under Section 426 Indian Penal Code was commenced and concluded. The decision in AIR 1942 Mad 594 is, therefore, distinguishable from facts