A child is considered innocent, and any wrongful act done by a child cannot be said to be a crime or an offence as it lacks mens rea (guilty mind). This section follows the principle of doli incapax, which provides that a child is considered incapable of forming the intent to commit a crime or tort. This can be understood briefly from sections 82 and 83 of IPC, which is a part of Chapter IV, General Exceptions. Let me explain what this is and make it easy for you.
- Section 82 of IPC – Explained
- Section 83 of IPC – Explained
Section 82 of IPC – Explained
Section 82 IPC says that anything done by a child under seven years of age will not be an offence.
Doctrine of doli incapax
This section says that any act done by a child under seven years of age will not be considered an offence. In India, a child below 7 years of age is deemed to be doli incapax and therefore cannot be held guilty of any offence.
Case Law for section 82 IPC
Marsh vs Loader (1863): In this case, the defendant caught a child stealing a piece of wood from his premises. However, the child was under the age of seven years, and therefore he was not held liable for the offence.
Section 83 of IPC – Explained
Section 83 IPC says that anything done by a child above seven years of age and under twelve years, who has not obtained enough maturity of understanding to judge the nature and outcomes of his conduct on that occasion, will not be an offence.
Doctrine of doli capax
According to this section, a child above seven years of age and below twelve years of age can plead for the defence under this section if they commit any offence. However, it is to be proved that the child has not attained enough maturity to judge the nature and outcomes of his actions on that occasion.
Essential elements of section 83 IPC
- The act must be done by a child between 7 years and 12 years of age.
- The child must not have achieved enough maturity of understanding to judge the nature and the consequences of his act.
- The incapacity must exist at the time of the commission of the act.
Case Law for section 83 IPC
Marimuthu vs Unknown (1909): In this case, the accused, a girl of 10 years of age, picked up a silver button worth eight annas and gave it to her mother. It was held that the girl was not liable for theft because the circumstances did not disclose that she had attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature of her act.