There are certain cases wherein the accused cannot be treated in the same way he/she would have been treated under normal circumstances. Chapter IV of IPC deals with situations in which certain people are exempted from liability. These exceptions are known as general exceptions. If an act comes under this Chapter of IPC, a criminal proceeding cannot be instituted against the doer. These general exceptions override the offences and penal provisions mentioned in the Code. If the person had the requisite actus reus along with mens rea that person could still evade the charges if his case falls under the general exceptions.
It should be noted that these exceptions are available for both IPC and non-IPC offences. These exceptions are to apply in cases of offences and as per section 40 of IPC, the term offences is a thing punishable under IPC as well as under a special or local law.
JUSTIFIABLE AND EXCUSABLE EXCEPTIONS
General exceptions can be divided into two broad categories of excusable and justifiable exceptions.
|Excusable exceptions||Justifiable exceptions|
|These are the exceptions which, by word also suggest, are excusable. In these cases, the law excuses a certain class of people for the acts. For example- insanity, infancy, intoxication.||1.||These are the exceptions which are justified by law under certain circumstances. For example- judicial acts, acts done under necessity, duress etc.|
|These exceptions include an actus reus but they lack in the requisite mens rea.
|2.||Actus reus is there but the required mens rea is considered meritorious. There is no lack of mens rea.|
|3.||The focus is on the actor. The criminal liability is inappropriate because of the inability of the actor to form the requisite mens rea.||3.||The focus is on the act. The act dine should be justified not the actor.|
BURDEN OF PROOF
As per the fundamental rule of criminal law, every person is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof is on the prosecution to establish the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. In cases of general exceptions, the position with respect to the burden of proof reverses. The burden of proof of showing to the court that the case falls under any of the general exceptions mentioned in the Code is on the accused.
As per section 105 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the court shall presume the absence of circumstances where these exceptions may be applied. It is the accused who has to prove that his case is under general exceptions. But it is also to be noted that every court is under a duty to bear in mind that every legal provision needs to be interpreted subject to general exceptions. The court needs to see if a case falls under chapter IV of IPC even if the accused has not pleaded it.