‘A’ an officer of a Court of Justice, being ordered by that Court to arrest ‘B’ and after due inquiry, believing ‘C’ to be ‘B’ arrest C. Whether ‘A’ has committed any offence Decide.
The arrest of C believing him as B by ‘A’, an officer of a Court of Justice does not constitute any offence, as it is the defence of mistake of fact u/s 76 of the Indian Penal Code.
As per Sec. 76 – ‘Nothing is an offence which is done by a person, who is or who by reason of a mistake of fact and not by reason of a mistake of law in good faith believes himself to be bound by law to do it’.
The essentials of mistake of fact are as follows –
- The act must be done by a person who is bound by law in doing that; or
- The act must be done by a person who believes himself to be bound by law in doing that;
iii. The belief must be by reason of a mistake of fact and not by reason of a mistake of law i.e., mistake must relate to fact and not to law;
- The person doing the act must believe in good faith i.e. belief must be a bonafide one in good faith.
Mistake of fact is a justifiable defence against criminal liability. Law excuses the crime committed out of Mistake of fact.
Thus, if a person, in good faith and believing himself to be justified in doing so, and due to mistake of fact commits a wrong, it is not on offence. Here, the offender should be bound by the law to do the act.
The illustration (b) to Sec. 76 is as below – If A arrests Z instead of Y, by mistake under the order of the Court in good faith, he is not liable for any offence.
Due to the above provision of law and illustration, A has not committed any offence.