An analysis of Good Faith in Criminal Jurisprudence

Vishad Sivastava

Good faith in Criminal Law has totally different aspect. Scholars view it as both positive and negative impacts. Good Faith as defined in Indian Penal Code Section 52 as ‘Nothing is said to be done or believed in “good faith” which is done or believed without due care and attention.

Therefore according to definition Good Faith means what is to be done with due care and attention. Actual meaning and interpretation of good Faith has been best describe by apex court in the ruling of R.Karruppan vs. unknown in 2004 this case was also the contempt case  where  deciding bench faced various allegation made by the petitioner. Moreover the case involves the question of irregularity in the Rifle board. Coming back to the interpretation given by the Apex Court of Good Faith which is as follows-

“good faith” is what is done with “due care and attention”. Due care denotes the degree of reasonableness in the care sought to be exercised. So, before a person proposes to make an imputation, he must first make an enquiry into the factum of the imputation which he proposes to make. It is not enough that he does just a make-believe show for an enquiry. The enquiry expected of him is of such a depth as a reasonable and prudent man would make with the genuine intention in knowing the real truth of the imputation. If he does not do so he cannot claim that what he did was bona fide i.e. done in good faith. Thus, a contemner, if he is to establish “good faith” has to say that he conducted a reasonable and proper enquiry before making an imputation

Here imputation was on the bench competency and of being corrupt but keeping the case aside when we view it in genral perspective then we will get real essence of Good Faith that term good faith must accomply truth where there is no truth there is no good faith if one is alleging on someone then he must have full proof for that and at last due to lack of evidence he cannot take the defense.

Let’s see the positive side of Section 52 IPC that is good faith. In The Judicial Officer Protection Act,1850 Section1 it is mention that there is no liability of any suits of officers acting judicially, for official act done in good faith, and of officers executing warrants and orders. Here the term good faith plays an important part as it provides a constitutional protection to the people who do their act of not allegation but of punishment this section also enshrined the independent judiciary. Good faith also protecting not only judicial Officers but police officers. Moreover, a case of Sukaroo Kaviraj where he was surgeon booked under 304 IPC as he negligently performs his surgery so by taking the plea of Good Faith he was not safe and this also gives stand on Good Faith that not only intention but due care is the sole quality for it.

Section 52 IPC also provides for the stoppage of medical mal practice A physician can be charged with criminal negligence when a patient dies from the effects of anesthesia during, an operation or other kind of treatment, if it can be proved that the death was the result if malicious intention, or gross negligence. Before the administration of anesthesia or performance of an operation, the medical man is expected to follow the accepted precautions.It has long been recognized that criminal liability of a physician may result from a high degree of negligent conduct. What the law calls criminal negligence is largely a matter of degree; it is incapable of a precise definition. To prove whether or not it exists is like chasing a mirage. It requires that any of the following to be established in a case of criminal medical negligence(mentioned in Hampton vs State)

Negative vibes for  Good Faith is also present which includes itself as a defense plea where the act done negligently then also the plea in taken. Most cases of this issue is raised in culpable homicide case of not amounting to murder and amounting to murder too.Some plea of defence is taken under the curtain of mistake of fact.However there are some exceptions to it that public servant while performing his duties any death occurs then it will be a culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Expression in good faith of any opinion respecting the conduct or character of a public servant, in the discharge of his public duties, respecting the conduct or character of any person touching any public question, respecting the merits of any case decided by a court or of conduct of witnesses and respecting the merits of any performance of an author, censure passed in good faith by person having lawful authority over another, accusation preferred in good faith to an authorized person, imputation made in good faith by a person for protection of his or other’s interests and caution con­veyed in good faith for the good of the person to whom conveyed or for public good.


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