Section 287. Negligent conduct with respect to machinery

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Negligent Conduct with respect to Machinery


The Indian Penal Code is the Republic of India's official criminal code. It's a comprehensive code that addresses every facet of criminal law. It describes specific crimes and provides penalties for them in its various sections. It is split into 23 chapters, spanning 511 sections.

Chapter XIV of the Code deals with offences affecting public health, safety, convenience, decency and morals and covers sections 268 to 294. This nuisance can be categorized into two types, namely public and private nuisance.A private nuisance is an act that annoys or disturbs an individual or individuals, whereas a public nuisance is a public wrong that infringes on the rights of the general public.

Section 287 deals with negligent conduct with respect to machinery. It reads as follows:

Whoever does, with any machinery, any act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life or to be likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person, or knowingly or negligently omits to take such order with any machinery in his possession or under his care as is sufficient to guard against any probable danger to human life from such machinery, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both.”

In layman's terms, this section deals with offences in which a person in possession of machinery acts rashly or negligently, endangering human life or causing injury or damage in the process. It also mentions instances where such a person intentionally fails to take reasonable precautions to avoid any damage caused by this machinery.


The presence of the following elements is crucial in order to constitute an offence under section 287:

  1. 1.The act must be done with the help of machinery. According to Cambridge Dictionary, machinery is a group of a large machine or the parts of a machine that make it work.

  1. 2.It must be done rashly or negligently

  1. 3.There must be threat to human life or the possibility of damage/ injury

  1. 4.In absence of the ingredients mentioned above, there should be an omission with knowledge or negligence to take such order with any machinery the person possesses or has under their care as is necessary to shield against any potential threat to human life from such machinery.


  1. 1.Negligent conduct with respect to machinery is a cognizable offence.

  1. 2.It is a bailable offence.

  1. 3.It is non compoundable in nature.

  1. 4.It is triable by any magistrate.


Negligence is defined as the failure to exercise proper care, which results in injury or damage. In the case of Blyth v. BirminghamWaterwoksCo. [i], it was observed that negligence isthe failure to do something that a prudent and reasonable person, guided by the considerations that ordinarily govern the conduct of human affairs, would do, or doing something that a prudent and reasonable person would not do.It is a civil as well as criminal wrong. The burden of proving criminal negligence falls heavily on the person claiming it, according to the courts. A guilty mind is required for criminal law. If a person has a guilty mind, he or she will be held accountable in any case. Rashness and recklessness are considered crimes under criminal law. In other words, the element of criminality is introduced when a guilty mind or bad intention is present.

If proper precautions are not taken while operating machinery, it can be hazardous to human life. Section 287 makes rash or negligentbehaviorwith regard to machinery a crime. If the owner of a machine pressures anyone to work in an unsafe environment in a manner that is likely tojeopardizehuman life, he will be prosecuted under this section.

The extent of care required to prevent accidents must therefore, be determined in light of the nature of the machinery, the amount of technical expertise necessary to maintain it, and the preventive measures that are beneficial in such cases. For instance, an employer who places a grossly incompetent person in charge of machinery may be considered guilty of committing a rash act that threatens human life.


Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that can fly independently without the assistance of a human. They can also be defined as aircrafts that do not have pilots on board and whose flight (speed, navigation, aerobatics, etc.) is monitored by onboard computers that are guided by remote human input. Drones were used mainly for military purposes. However, with the passage of time, its use extended to the commercial sphere too. The government saw this as a threat to security, thus banning their use without prior approval from concerned authorities. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) like drones fall under the ambitof “aircraft” as defined in The Aircraft Act, 1934.The DGCA has the authority, under the Aircraft Rules, 1937, to issue notices and specific guidelines to aircraft owners in regards to the operation, use, possession, maintenance, or navigation of such aircraft flying in or over India or an aircraft registered in India.

Section 287 will apply in situations where a person is flying a drone and a technical failure occurs, causing the drone to collapse, and thus endangering the safety of others. The penalty under this section is imprisonment extending up to a periodof sixmonths, or a fine of rupees one thousand, or both.


A person convicted under this section faces either simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term that may extend up to six months, or a fine of up to one thousand rupees, or both.


  1. 1. Satish @ Bablu v. State of Haryana andAnr.[ii]

The owner of a factory had asked the complainant to check if the surf manufacturing machine was working properly or not.The complainant was instructed to operate the machine by pressing the power button and manually pushing the fan belt. When the complainant pressed the button, the fan belt ran, trapping his fingers between the belt and the roller. As a result, the first two fingers near the thumb were crushed and resulted in amputation. The trial court sentenced him to three months in prison and directed him to pay a fine of rupees 500 for the offence under section 287 of IPC.

  1. 2. Suren Gurung v. State of Sikkim[iii]

The court said that according to the ordinary grammatical definition of the words "machine" or "machinery" and the definition of the word "motor vehicle" or "vehicle" in section 2(28) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, all motor vehicles are machines, but not all machines are motor vehicles. For the purposes of Section 287 IPC, the term "machine" would also include "motor vehicles."

The court also noted that the word "order" in the phrase "omits to take such order" used in the second part of Section 287 IPC would presuppose arrangement, and thus failure to make adequate arrangement with the machinery would fall within its mischief if done "knowingly" or "negligently."


Thus, section 287 of the Indian Penal Code deals with negligence with respect to machinery. The elements of recklessness and negligence, along with threat to human life arising from machinery form the gist of this provision.


  • 1. The Indian Penal Code, 1860

  • 2. The Aircraft Act, 1934

    3. The Cambridge Dictionary

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[i](1856) 11 Ex Ch 781, 156 ER 1047

[ii] CRM-M-1184-2015

[iii]SLR (2018) SIKKIM 407