IPC 95 Act causing slight harm

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Section 95 in The Indian Penal Code- Act causing slight harm.

Nothing is an offence by reason that it causes, or that it is intended to cause, or that it is known to be likely to cause, any harm, if that harm is so slight that no person of ordinary sense and temper would complain of such harm.

The elements in this section are: 1) by reason that it causes- Nothing is an offence by which it has a reason to cause such harm to that person. and harm is very less in degree that any person would not complain about such harm. 2) intended to cause- such intention involved in the harm which is almost inconsiderable and for which the act is not an offense. 3) known to be likely to cause- The person has the knowledge that the act is likely to cause such harm that is very reasonable and which is not an offense. And the person affected with such harm has the ordinary sense would not complain of such harm. 4) harm is very slight that a prudent person and temper would complain of such harm- The harm caused to the person is so less that a person with ordinary sense would not complain of such act.


This section is based on “de minimis non curat lex” that is one of the principles of law which means that the law is not concerned with trifles. It means “law is not concerned with small things.”In a lawsuit, the de minimis doctrine is applied by a court to avoid resolving trivial matters that are not worthy of judicial scrutiny. A legal term which means too small to be meaningful or taken into account; immaterial. As a matter of policy, the law does not encourage parties to bring legal action where the impact of the breach is negligible for technical breaches of rules or agreements There is no doubt that a man living in a society cannot avoid inconvenience to himself or others. Therefore, with such delinquencies as offences, Section 95 aims to’ exclude from the application of the Code those cases that fall within the letter of the penal law from the imperfection of the language but are not yet within its meaning’ and’ to prevent the penalization of marginal wrongs or insignificant offences.

To ordinary men, the rule is unnecessary, but there are odd people all over the world, and statutory regulation of this kind of law is required to protect against eccentricity. Only when the act complained about amounts to an offence and’ no person of ordinary and temper’ will complain about it, Section 95 will come into play.

Nonetheless whether an act  amounts to an offence is trivial will depend on the nature of the injury, the parties ‘ status, the relationship between them, the context in which they are put, the information or intention with which the offending act is performed, and other relevant circumstances. It cannot be measured  by the assessment of the physical and other injuries caused by the act alone.

In Helford v. Bailey (1849) 18 L.J.Q.B. 109, In a particular water body, the plaintiff has an exclusive right of fishing in the water. The defendant casts the net and pulls out the net from the water. The plaintiff filed it as a petition for trespassing. The plaintiff’s plea was that he had the exclusive right, and the defendant violated his right through trespassing and then fishing. There is no question whether or not he caught any fish. The defendant has thus created an act of tort against the plaintiff and, if repeated in the future, the defendant would tend to establish fishing rights. Court held the plaintiff’s view is correct, and although it was a trivial act, the court found it a tortious act and found the defendant guilty.

In the leading case of Coward v. Baddeley, 1859, A bystander touched a fireman on the arm to draw his attention to another part of a building in which a fire raged. On a suit filed for battery by the fireman, the court held that on the basis of maxim de minimis non curat lex, the by-stander was not liable for battery.


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  1. 1) Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, THE INDIAN PENAL CODE, 35th ed, Lexis Nexis 2) indiankanoon.org/