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Vicarious liability

 Vicarious liability a Brief Analysis 

Usually we assume that the person himself gets punished if he commits any wrong. But under the Law of Torts, there is a concept titled Vicarious Liability. Under Vicarious Liability, a person is held liable for the acts of another.

Elements of vicarious liability 

  • There should be some relationship between the person who committed a wrong and the other person.

  • Both the persons should be involved in the joint activity.

  • The wrongful act must be related to the relationship in a certain way.

  • The wrong should be done within the course of employment.

Vicarious Liability is related to the Legal maxim Qui facit per alium facit per se which means that he who acts through another does the act himself.

Principal and Agent:

There are some constituents to fulfill this relationship. We can understand about this relationship from the following points:

There must be some authority assigned by principal to his agent which must be an apparent authority.

Authority may either be expressed or implied.

Agent must act within the course of employment

Master and Servant:

To make the master liable there are two constituents to fulfill:

The act should be committed by the servant

The servant should have committed the act in the course of employment

It relies upon the legal maxim Respondent Superior which means that the superior should be held responsible for the acts done by his subordinate.

Vicarious liability of state

Under Vicarious Liability it was conveyed that an individual is liable for the acts of another.

This was stated by the Judiciary which is a part of the State/ Government.

This gives rise to a question:

What if the Government’s employees have done any wrongful act resulting in damage to others?

The answer for this question is the Vicarious Liability of State. Vicarious Liability of State got evolved by the East India Company in 1858. But the article 300 came into effect from 1950.

In India, while there is no clear law dealing with the vicarious liability of the State, Article 300 of the Indian Constitution specifies that the union of India or the Government of State can sue and be sued like any ordinary person. Vicarious Liability of state is also known as the tortious liability of the Government. State’s liability for the tortious actions of its employees is called as tortious liability of the State. State is liable for the acts of negligence, wrongful execution and omission or commission either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Status in India 

In England it was theCrown Proceedings Act, 1947 by which the state was made liable, but in India there was no statute for the liability of the state. So this law got evolved by the East India Company much prior to 1858.

Article 300 gave the right to people to sue the Government. But this article came into effect in 1950 i.e., after the adaptation of the Constitution. Similar provisions are present under Article 176 of the Government of India Act, 1935 and also under Articles 35 and 65 in the Government of India Act 1915 and 1858 respectively.


Before 1858, there was no legislation regarding the liability of Government for the wrongful acts of its subjects. The decision taken to formulate legislation for this purpose is indeed superior. As our nation is a sovereign, secular and democratic nation, this legislation should be there in order to protect all the above said words.


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