By Harshit Bansal (1)
In the High Court of Allahabad
|NAME OF THE CASE||Dr. Ram Raj Singh v. Babulal|
|CITATION OF THE CASE||AIR 1982 All 285|
|DATE OF THE CASE||September 2, 1981|
|APPELLANT||Dr Ram Raj Singh|
|CONSTITUTION/ STATUTES ENCOMPASSED||Indian Penal Code, 1860; Constitution of India|
|IMPORTANT ARTICLE(S)/ SECTIONS||Constitution of India — Arts. 21, 19, 14 and 32 Indian Penal Code, 1860, – Section 268|
A nuisance is a form of tort which can be defined as unlawful interference with the peaceful enjoyment of one’s rights. In the present case, Dr. Ram Raj Singh who runs a clinic of his own suffered some form of unlawful interference due to a construction brick grinding machine by the defendant named Babulal. Dr Ram Raj Singh was of the view that he has suffered loss because of the reduction in the number of clients due to constant noise and sound pollution being caused by the machine. On the other hand, the defendant was of the view that he had taken sufficient measures in reducing the pollution caused by the machine. The case is mainly based on the issue that whether Dr Ram Raj Singh has suffered any substantial injury to grant an injunction.
The Hon’ble Court decided in the favour of the plaintiff and a permanent injunction was issued against the defendant.
Torts are a form of uncodified law that contains numerous wrongs or damages that can be committed by a person like Strict Liability, Vicarious Liability, Negligence, Nuisance, and the like. In all these cases the wrongs are being committed against an individual where damages awarded are in the form of compensation while in the case of criminal law, the crime is being committed against the state.
In the case of Nuisance, there have been many instances in which a person in the nearby surroundings tends to cause emotional or physical discomfort to the other person. There have been instances when someone tries to interfere in someone else’s life both in a direct and direct way. In Torts, there has also been a tort defined known as a nuisance. Nuisance can be expounded as unlawful obstruction with the peaceful enjoyment of a person’s right in the form of the right to life, the peaceful use of land, etc. It can be in many forms like in form of light sound, obstruction of land, disease, smell, obstruction, and the like.
According to Salmond, Nuisance is defined as a wrong causing or permitting the act of something negative to enter another person’s land without their consent.
Nuisance can be further categorised into 2 types:
- Private Nuisance or Tort of Nuisance
- Public or Common Nuisance
For the tort of nuisance to be passed, there are a few essentials which need to be considered while passing the judgement.
- Some sort of obstructive interference
- Interference with the peaceful use or benefit of land
- Damage caused to the plaintiff
If the plaintiff is not able to prove any of the above contentions or the wrong committed by the defendant, it becomes very difficult for the plaintiff to prove the wrong of damage being committed.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The facts of this case are that the plaintiff, who was Dr. Ram Baj Singh was denied the relief, that he sought on the basis that the defendant’s brick grinding machine didn’t cause him any substantial injuries or special damages. The Counsel for the plaintiff had submitted that the two lower courts could not properly understand the significance of the legal terms “substantial injury” and “special damage.”
The plaintiff filed the case that resulted in the 2nd appeal asking for a permanent injunction to avert the defendant from operating the grinding machine. The plaintiff was a professional medical practitioner who had constructed a consultancy office much prior to when the defendant had erected the machine. A dispute had erupted between the two parties over whether the consulting chamber was founded in 1962 or 1965. It was true to the fact that the brick machine was electrical propelling and was located at a range of approximately forty feet northeast of the plaintiff’s consultancy chamber. A road was also constructed between the plaintiff’s consultancy chamber and the brick grinding machine.
The plaintiff’s main point of contention was that the brick grinding machine has been generating a large number of dirt particles, which caused pollution in the environment and also entered the plaintiff’s consultancy chamber, causing physical discomfort to the plaintiff and his clients who usually come to his clinic. Consequently, this led to a decrease in the number of clients coming to his clinic for consultation causing him losses. As a result of this, the act of the defendant not only caused physical discomfort to the plaintiff but also mental agony in the form of economic distress and regular irritation. It was also claimed that the defendant installed the machine without first obtaining permission or a licence from the Municipal Board.
According to the plaintiff’s counsel, the legal deduction that could be taken out from the facts of the case found by the two lower courts was that the plaintiff has suffered a considerable and significant damages as a result of the machine’s operation and that special damage was suffered by him. Dr. Ram Raj Singh has suffered significant financial loss and great physical discomfort has been caused to him. The plaintiff was of the view that the he had right to life encompassed under Art. 21 and he has the right to lead a peaceful life devoid of any external constraint and pleaded that the act by the defendant constituted nuisance. The counsel of the defendant, on the other hand, contended that the court of appeals’ findings that the plaintiff-appellant suffered no substantial injury and no special damage are essential findings of facts that can’t be challenged before these court in the 2nd appeal. Moreover, it cannot be agreed with the learned counsel for the respondent’s submission. In Jugal Kishor v. Ram Saran Das, It was claimed that whether specific facts proved to establish a tort of nuisance was a legal matter.
When the defendant contested the suit, the council didn’t deny the fact that the machine was constructed by him in 1965, but he claimed that no dust particles were emitted during the grinding bricks process and that there is no question of any dust particles being arisen in the atmosphere as a result of the dust. He also stated that he was concerned about the environment because the bricks were moistened before being ground, and no dust was produced as a result. He also stated that his machine made no noise and that the erection and operation of the machine did not cause any private or public nuisance. He deducted by stating that the suit was filed against him solely out of ill will and hatred and that the preceding case was not legally viable.
The defendant’s council has himself relied upon the judgment given in Behari Lal v. James Maclean. In that case, the first court of appeals determined that the acts complained of by the plaintiff were constituting an actionable nuisance. As a result, The demand for a mandatory injunction made on behalf of the plaintiff, in the above mentioned case, was granted by the council. The facts as found by the court of appeal were only accepted as the discovery of facts by the Division Bench of the court. It did not, anyhow, address whether the aforementioned facts constituted an actionable nuisance under the law. In this regard, this court disagreed with the first court of appeals and allowed the defendant-appeal appellant while dismissing the plaintiff’s suit. Only the facts revealed by the first court of appeal have been treated as findings of fact in a number of rulings by several High Courts in this nation. Nonetheless, the High Courts have also considered whether, based on the facts established, a legal inference could be drawn as to whether or not a nuisance was being committed. It is not necessary to impose this decision with references to all of those decisions.
LEGAL ISSUE INVOLVED
- Whether the act of the defendant of producing bricks from the machine is constituting a nuisance for the plaintiff.
- Whether it is sufficient to consitutute nuisance or the damage has been suffered by him and whether any special damage has been suffered by him for constituting a permanent injunction on the defendant thereby constituting a nuisance.
There are various provisions which can be attached to the above facts and issues of the case:
- Constitution of India
- Article 21: It states that no human being will be disadvantaged in one’s enjoyment of one’s personal liberty or life excluding the procedures well defined by law.Article 14: Every person is equal in the eyes of the law and the state will not make any sort of prejudices on the ground of caste, race, sex and the like.
- Article 226: Every High Court may have the authority to issue orders, writs, or directives to any person or authority within the areas within its jurisdiction, including, in suitable circumstances, any governmental body. Writs can be in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose).
- The tort of Nuisance: When there is an obstruction in the peaceful enjoyment of one’s rights in the form of pollution, indirect interference and the like, the tort of nuisance is committed.
- Sec. 268 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC): Any individual is considered to be committing public nuisance if one commits any illegal acts or omits to do the legal acts which harm, annoy, or endanger members of the community or who own property nearby or those who live in the area, or who obstructs, harm, or endanger those who might need to use public rights. A common nuisance is not defended on the grounds that it offers some convenience or benefit.
The Court stated that once land has been developed, the owner of the building can’t expect to have the exact quality of air that existed prior to when the building was constructed. The construction of the building inevitably reduces the freshness of the air. The quality of the fresh air would be further diminished and would even become somewhat contaminated if the entire area where the structure is located were to be constructed. However, if the neighbouring land’s owner does something on his own land that is incompatible with physical comfort and basic human existence, the person who is harmed has the right to sue. The neighbour’s behaviour, which he will criticise, would constitute a legal nuisance. In addition to this, a word of warning should be given at this point. A sober and rational thought criteria must once again be used to decide if the air has gotten so polluted that it is no longer fit for human comfort and existence. Elegant and dainty living concepts will be completely out of place. In addition to that, the property’s location is also a relevant circumstance in determining whether the act the defendant complained of provides danger or comfort to mankind’s existence; A person who lives in an industrial area cannot be compared to having as much fresh air as someone who lives in a non-industrial locality.
After reviewing numerous decisions, the court in Ramlal v. Mustafabad Oil and Colton Ginning Factorydeveloped a series of guidelines to decide whether or not a complaint of harm qualifies as an actionable nuisance. It was observed in that case that actionable nuisance does not admit to enumeration and that any operation that causes harm to business, comfort, property, health, or public morale would be considered a nuisance.
The two lower courts were swayed by the point that the doctor didn’t check out his clients to establish that the dust coming from the defendant-machine respondents actually hurt them physically and his point of contentions was completely baseless. Additionally, they made reference to the plaintiff-statement appellant and found that Dr Ram Raj Singh had acknowledged that the harm done to Dr Ram’s patients was noted in his register but had not been presented. They have drawn an adverse inference against the plaintiff based on this omission and concluded that the plaintiff-appellant has not been able to prove that he suffered any substantial harm or significant harm.
The court of appeals ruled that the dust produced by the crushing of bricks constitutes a public hazard that was bound to harm people’s health. It was also determined that dust from bricks entered the plaintiff-consulting appellant’s chamber in sufficient quantity to leave a thin red coating on the clothes of those sitting there. Given these findings, it’s difficult to see how the plaintiff could be said to have failed to prove that the offending brick grinding machine was not causing him special harm.
This appeal must be granted for the reasons stated above. As a result, the appeal is granted. The decrees issued by the two lower courts are overturned. The plaintiff’s suit has been decided.
For all the reasons stated above, it was concluded that the appeal by the plaintiff must succeed. The defendant was granted a permanent injunction barring him from using his brick grinding machine, which is denoted by the letters Ka, Kha, Ga, and Gha on the sketch map at the foot of the plaint, and the plaintiff’s lawsuit has been decided. Throughout, the court held that plaintiff was entitled to recover his costs.
A nuisance is a form of tort in which a person unlawfully tries to interfere in another person’s life causing him problems in any form. It can be caused both directly and indirectly. There are some essentials like the breach of duty and suffering of damage by the plaintiff which need to be proved for a tort of Nuisance to be proved.
The case Dr Ram Singh v. Babu Lal is one of the most essential judgements which needs to be taken into consideration as a precedent for deciding future cases. It can be deduced from the above reasoning of the Hon’ble court that to get the claim for special damages, special harm must be caused to the plaintiff which no one else, other than the plaintiff has suffered and to cast permanent injunction on the defendant or the other party, the plaintiff must need to prove substantial damage caused to him by the defendant. Any action that could properly be considered to cause harm, suffering, or annoyance to a person would qualify as a private nuisance. In my opinion, it is the duty of every person to prevent any kind of damage caused to someone else’s property. Since every person has the right to lead a peaceful life, it is very essential that no harm is caused to them by any person. As a result, it must be the topmost priority to ensure that noone is denied one’s fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.
(1) Author is a 2nd year student of Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala, Punjab.
 Dr. R.K. Bangia, “ Law of Torts”, Allahabad Law Agency, 22nd edn, 2021, Pg. No. 242.
 Jugal Kishor v. Ram Saran Das, AIR 1943 Lah 306.
 Justice G.P. Singh, “ Ratanlal & Dhirajlal’s The Law of Torts”, LexisNexis Butterworths Wadhwa Nagpur, 24th edn. Reprint 2008” Pg No. 148.
 Behari Lal v. James Maclean, AIR 1924 All 392.
 The Constitution of India, 1950, Art. 21.
 The Constitution of India, 1950, Art. 14.
 The Constitution of India, 1950, Art. 226.
 See The Indian Penal Code, 1860, §268.
 Ramlal v. Mustafabad Oil and Colton Ginning Factory. AIR 1968 Punj & Har 399.