A person who committed an offence against the law with the intention required for committing such offence may escape from liability if he satisfies the court that his case come under the general exception of IPC.
Section 76 of IPC states that ‘nothing is an offence if committed by person under mistake of fact in good faith by assuming that he is bound by law to do it. Such act should not be committed under mistake of law.
Section 79 of IPC states that ‘nothing is an offence if committed by person believing himself justified by law to do it under mistake of fact in good faith, but not under mistake of law.
The reading of above mentioned sections clarifies the difference between mistake of fact and mistake of law. Both sections imply that the person can be absolved if the offence is committed under mistake of fact and not mistake of law.
In section 76 of IPC accused assumed that he is bound by law to do that act whereas in section 79 of IPC accused assumed himself justified by law to do that act.
The guilt of the accused determines by looking into the believed facts and not the actual facts.
WHAT SHOULD CONSTITUTE MISTAKE FOR IT TO BE EXCUSED BY LAW?
- The facts caused the act done believed to be real by the accused.
- The mistake must be reasonable.
- The mistake must be regarding facts and not law. Because ignorance of law is not excused by the law.
This excuse is based on the legal maxim ‘ignorantia facit doth excusat, ignorantia juris non excusat’ means ignorance of fact can be excused but not ignorance of the law.
By the expression ‘in good faith’ in the section means that such an act should be committed with due care and attention.
Thus under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 mistake of fact is considered a good defence by the law