Legal Provisions Regarding “Mischief” – Section 425 of IPC

Sec. 425. Mischief Whoever, with intent to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to the public or to any person, causes the destruction of any property or any such change in any property or in the situation thereof as destroys or diminishes its value or utility, or affects it injuriously, commits “mischief”.

Explanation-1:

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It is not essential to the offence of mischief that the offender should intend to cause loss or damage to the owner of the property injured or destroyed. It is sufficient if he intends to cause, or knows that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to any person by injuring any property, whether it belongs to that person or not.

Explanation-2:

Mischief may be committed by an act affecting property belonging to the person who commits the act, or to that person and others jointly.

Illustrations:

(a) A voluntarily burns a valuable security belonging to Z intending to cause wrongful loss to Z. A has committed mischief.

(b) A introduces water into an ice-house belonging to Z, and thus causes the ice to melt, intending wrongful loss to Z. A has committed mischief.

(c) A voluntarily throws into a river a ring belonging to Z, with the intention of thereby causing wrongful loss to Z A has committed mischief.

(d) A, knowing that his effects are about to be taken in execution in order to satisfy a debt due from him to Z, destroys those effects, with the intention of thereby preventing Z from obtaining satisfaction of the debt, and of thus causing damage to Z. A has committed mischief.

(e) A, having insured a ship, voluntarily causes the same to be cast away, with the intention of causing damage to the under-writers. A has committed mischief.

(f) A causes a ship to be cast away, intending thereby to cause damage to Z who has lent money on bottomry on the ship. A has committed mischief.

(g) A, having joint property with Z in a horse, shoots the horse, intending thereby to cause wrongful loss to Z. A has committed mischief.

(h) A causes cattle to enter upon a field belonging to Z, intending to cause and knowing that he is likely to cause damage to Z’s crop. A has committed mischief.

Important Points:

A. Ingredients:

1. Mens rea is one of the essential ingredients of mischief. The accused shall have intention or knowledge of likelihood to cause wrongful loss or damage to the public or to any person.

2. He caused destruction or damage or changed the shape of the property.

3. Due to his acts, the value of the property is decreased

4. By doing the wrongful acts of mischief, the accused need not personally benefitted.

B. In Gopi Naik vs. Somnath (1977 CrLJ 1665 Goa) case, the accused had cut the water pipe connection of the complainant. The Court held that the accused was guilty of the offence of Mischief, as he had diminished the value of the property, i.e., water supply.

C. In Arjuna vs. State (AIR 1969 Ori 200) case, the accused damaged the standing crops grown by the complainant on the land belonging to the Government. The Court held that the accused was guilty under Sec. 425.

D. In Sippatfar Singh vs. Kishore (AIR 1957 All 405) case, the accused had cut tne sugar cane from the field of the complainant, and taken away it. The Court held that the accused was not the guilty of mischief, but he was guilty of theft, because no damage was caused to remaining field of the sugar cane, and the accused moved certain quantity of sugar cane from the field with a dishonest intention to misappropriate it.

E. In Shriram vs. Thakurdas (1978 CrLJ 715 Bom.) case, the accused was an officer of Municipal Corporation. He gave notices to the complainant/house owner for the unauthorised construction.

After giving notices, the accused demolished the unauthorized construction. The complainant contended that it would attract the offence of “Mischief”. The Bombay High Court held that it was not an offence, as the accused demolished the unauthorized construction as per law.

F. Default of Payments:

For the default of payment or any illegal acts, disconnection of water supply, sewerage supply, electricity supply, telephone connection, etc., by the concerned departments do not come under the purview of “Mischief”, as such acts are legally done.

G. Punishment for mischief:

Section 426 prescribes punishment for mischief. It says that whoever commits mischief shall punish with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is non-cognizable, bailable, compoundable, and triable by any Magistrate.

H. Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees:

Section 427 says that whoever commits mischief and thereby causes loss or damage to the amount of fifty rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is non-cognizable, bailable, compoundable, and triable by any Magistrate.

I. Mischief by killing or maiming animal of the value of ten rupees:

Section 428 says that whoever commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless, any animal or animals of the value of ten rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, compoundable with permission of the Court before which any prosecution of such offence is pending, and triable by any Magistrate.

J. Mischief by killing or maiming cattle, etc., of any value or any animal of the value of fifty rupees:

Section 429 says that whoever commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless, any elephant, camel, horse, mule, buffalo, bull, cow, or ox, whatever may be the value thereof, or any other animal of the value of fifty rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, compoundable with permission of the Court before which any prosecution of such offence is pending, and triable by any Magistrate.

K. Mischief by injury to works of irrigation or by wrongfully diverting water:

Section 430 says that whoever commits mischief by doing any act which causes, or which he knows to be likely to cause, a diminution of the supply of water for agricultural purposes, or for food or drink for human beings or for animals which are property, or for cleanliness or for carrying on any manufacture, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, compoundable with permission of the Court before which any prosecution of such offence is pending, and triable by any Magistrate.

L. Mischief by injury to public road, bridge, river or channel:

Sec. 431 says that whoever commits mischief by doing any act which renders or which he knows to be likely to render any public road, bridge, navigable river or navigable channel, natural or artificial, impassable or less safe for travelling or conveying property, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description or a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by Magistrate of the first class.

M. Mischief by causing inundation or obstruction to public drainage attended with damage:

Sec. 432 says that whoever commits mischief by doing any act which causes or which he knows to be likely to cause an inundation or an obstruction to any public drainage attended with injury or damage, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by Magistrate of the first class.

N. Mischief by destroying, moving or rendering less useful a light-house or sea-mark:

Sec. 433 says that whoever commits mischief by destroying or moving any light-house or other light used as a sea-mark, or any sea-mark or buoy or other thing placed as a guide for navigators, or by any act which renders any such light-house, sea-mark or buoy or other such thing as aforesaid less useful as a guide for navigators, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by Magistrate of the first class.

O. Mischief by destroying or moving etc., a land-mark fixed by public authority:

Sec. 434 says that whoever commits mischief by destroying or moving any land-mark fixed by the authority of a public servant or by any act which renders such land-mark less useful as such, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is non-cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by any Magistrate.

P. Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage to amount of one hundred or (in case of agricultural produce) ten rupees:

Sec. 435 says that whoever commits mischief by fire or any explosive substance intending to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, damage to any property to the amount of one hundred rupees or upwards or (where the property is agricultural produce) ten rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, compoundable, and triable by Magistrate of the first cl ass.

Q. Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc.:

Sec. 436 says that whoever commits mischief by fire or any explosive substance, intending to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, the destruction of any building which is ordinarily used as a place of worship or as a human dwelling or as a place for the custody of property, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, NON-bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by Court of Session.

R. Mischief with intent to destroy or make unsafe a decked vessel or one of twenty tons burden:

Sec. 437 says that whoever commits mischief to any decked vessel or any vessel of a burden of twenty tons or upwards, intending to destroy or render unsafe, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby destroy or render unsafe, that vessel, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by Court of Session.

S. Punishment for the mischief described in Sec. 437 committed by fire or explosive substance:

Sec. 438 says that whoever commits, or attempts to commit, by fire or any explosive substance, such mischief as is described in the last preceding Section, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, non-bailable, non- compoundable, and triable by Court of Session.

T. Punishment for intentionally running vessel aground or shore with intent to commit theft, etc.:

Sec. 439 says that whoever intentionally runs any vessel aground or ashore, intending to commit theft of any property contained therein or to dishonestly misappropriate any such property, or with intent that such theft or misappropriation of property may be committed, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, non-bailable, non- compoundable, and triable by Court of Session,

U. Mischief committed after preparation made for causing death or hurt:

Sec. 440 says that whoever commits mischief, having made preparation for causing to any person death or hurt or wrongful restraint, or fear of death or of hurt, or of wrongful restraint, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine. Nature of offence: The offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by Magistrate of the first class.

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