Question: A gives the lease of his house to B for six months. After the expiry of the lease, A gives notice to B to vacate his house. But B did not do so. A went to his house which was in possession of B as a tenant and destroyed some of his property, including a television and… Read More »

Question: A gives the lease of his house to B for six months. After the expiry of the lease, A gives notice to B to vacate his house. But B did not do so. A went to his house which was in possession of B as a tenant and destroyed some of his property, including a television and washing machine in order to put pressure to vacate the house. B prosecuted A for the offence of mischief. During trial A took the defence that B was residing in his house even after the expiry of the lease, so he is...

Question: A gives the lease of his house to B for six months. After the expiry of the lease, A gives notice to B to vacate his house. But B did not do so. A went to his house which was in possession of B as a tenant and destroyed some of his property, including a television and washing machine in order to put pressure to vacate the house. B prosecuted A for the offence of mischief.

During trial A took the defence that B was residing in his house even after the expiry of the lease, so he is a trespasser and he destroyed B’s property so that B may vacate his house in which he (B) has no right to continue in accordance with the law. Will A succeed in his defence? Give reasons and also refer to the case law on the point.

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [A gives the lease of his house to B for six months. After the expiry of the lease, A gives notice to B to vacate his house. But B did not do so... Will A succeed in his defence? Give reasons and also refer to the case law on the point.]

Answer

Destruction or diminution in value of the property in question is one of the essentials of mischief as defined under section 425, IPC. Also, the term ‘change’ used in section 425 means a physical change in composition or form of property. It contemplates physical injury to property from a physical cause.

In Byomkesh Bhattacharya v. Lakshmi Narayan Dutta [(1978) Cr LJ 848 (Cal)] the Calcutta High Court had to consider a case in which the complainant alleged that the accused persons prevented the supply of filtered water to the complainant’s house by using a wrench valve key, and several other similar offences. The question was whether this would amount to change in the property such that it diminishes the value or utility thereof. The high court elaborated on what constitutes a change in property such that it diminishes its value as follows:

“The expression ‘change in the property so as to destroy or diminish its value or utility does not necessarily mean a change in character, composition or form. If something is done to the property contrary to its natural use and serviceability that destroys or diminishes its value or utility, it will amount to mischief.”

Thus, there is no need that the object must be materially changed to be covered by the definition. Similarly, the value is not to be considered as market value or utility. The section can only mean the value or utility, which the object possesses prior to the change it was forced to undergo by the unlawful methods.

Thus, in the instant case, the act of stopping water supply by turning off the valve brought about a diminution of the value of the pipeline, which existed mainly for the supply of water. Thus, the stoppage of water was contrary to the usage it normally was put to. Hence, it amounted to mischief.

Thus, where the value or utility of the property has been diminished, or it has been destroyed, only in such circumstances can it be said that the offence of mischief has been established. Destruction or diminution in value and utility, however, must be an immediate or proximate consequence of the alleged act of the accused. The utility referred to in this section is that conceived by the owner and not by the accused.

Even if the accused were to have a right in any property, that does not entitle them to take law into their own hands and cause damage to the property of others. This issue came up in Arjuna Gouda v. State of Orissa [AIR 1969 Ori 200] in which the accused caused damage to the standing crops grown by the complainant on government land, which was in his cultivating possession.

Thus, the act of the accused in damaging the crops with the intention and knowledge that he would be causing wrongful loss and/or damage to the complainant was held to constitute the offence of mischief. The fact that the accused had right over the land was held not to make him entitled to commit the unlawful act of forcibly destroying the crops of the complainant.

Therefore, in the present case at hand, A cannot take the defence that B was residing in the house even after the expiry of the lease term so he has the right to destroy B’s property in order to compel him to vacate the property.

A must take recourse of due process of law to throw B’s out of his property but cannot do so by unlawful means. The facts that A destroyed some of the property of B including the Television and washing machine he is said to cause mischief to B’s property and hence is guilty under section 425, IPC.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. IPC Mains Questions Series Part I: Important Questions
  2. IPC Mains Questions Series Part II: Important Questions
  3. IPC Mains Questions Series Part III: Important Questions
  4. IPC Mains Questions Series Part IV: Important Questions
  5. IPC Mains Questions Series Part V: Important Questions
  6. IPC Mains Questions Series Part VI: Important Questions
  7. IPC Mains Questions Series Part VII: Important Questions
  8. IPC Mains Questions Series Part VIII: Important Questions
  9. IPC Mains Questions Series Part IX: Important Questions
  10. IPC Mains Questions Series Part X: Important Questions
Updated On 2021-09-07T03:34:06+05:30
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