SECTION 81 IPC : Act that is likely to cause harm yet is performed without malicious purpose and to stop further harm.—Nothing constitutes a crime just by virtue of being carried out in good faith with the objective of preventing or averting further harm to people or property, even if it is done with the knowledge that it may do so. Explanation.—In this situation, it is a factual issue as to whether the harm that was to be avoided or prevented was of a character and degree that would justify or excuse taking the risk of performing the act while being aware that harm was likely to result.

(a) A, the captain of a steam ship, finds himself suddenly and without any fault or negligence in such a situation that, before he can stop his ship, he must run down to boat B, which has twenty or thirty passengers on board, unless he changes the course of his ship. However, by changing the course, he must run the risk of running down boat C, which has only two passengers on board, which he may possibly avoid. In this case, if A changes his course in good faith and without any intent to run down the boat C in order to avoid endangering the passengers in the boat B, he is not in violation of the law; however, he may run down the boat C by acting in a way that he knew would likely result in that outcome if it is determined that the danger that he intended to avoid was sufficient to justify taking the risk of doing so.
(b) A knocks down buildings to put out a large fire in order to stop it from spreading. He acts in this way with the hope of saving lives or protecting property. In this case, if it is determined that the harm that needed to be avoided was of a kind and magnitude that justifies A’s action. A is innocent of the crime.


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