268. Public nuisance
A person is guilty of a public nuisance who does any act or is guilty of an illegal omission which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to the public or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right.
A common nuisance is not excused on the ground that it causes some convenience or advantage.
1-On close reading of Section 268 of IPC indicates that a person is guilty of a public nuisance who does any act or is guilty of an illegal omission which causes any common injury, under such circumstance, he can be held liable.
2-Part B of Chapter X of Cr. P.C. deals with ‘Public Nuisances’
3-Nuisance is an inconvenience materially interferes with the ordinary physical comfort of human existence. It is not capable of precise definition. It may be public or private nuisance. As defined in Section 268 IPC, public nuisance is an offence against public either by doing a thing which tends to the annoyance of the whole community in general or by neglect to do anything which the common good requires. It is an act or omission which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to the public or to the people in general who dwell or occupy the property in the vicinity. On the alternative it causes injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use public right [Supreme Court in Vasanta Manga Nikumba and others Vs. Baburao Bhikanna Naidu (deceased)]
4-Part B of Chapter X of Cr. P.C. deals with ‘Public Nuisances’. Section 133 Cr.P.C in the said Chapter provides as under:-
“133. Conditional order for removal of nuisance. (1) Whenever a District Magistrate or a Sub- divisional Magistrate or any other Executive Magistrate specially empowered in this behalf by the State Government, on receiving the report of a police officer or other information and on taking such evidence (if any) as he thinks fit, considers-
(a) that any unlawful obstruction or nuisance should be removed Crl. Revision No. 21/15, Metro Life Line Hospital Vs. Sub Divisional Magistrate, Najafgarh and Crl. Revision No. 20/15 Hemant Kapoor Vs. Sub Divisional Magistrate, Najafgarh 10-12-2015 15 of 24 from any public place or from any way, river or channel which is or may be lawfully used by the public; or
(b) that the conduct of any trade or occupation, or the keeping of any goods or merchandise, is injurious to the health or physical comfort of the community, and that in consequence such trade or occupation should be prohibited or regulated or such goods or merchandise should be removed or the keeping thereof regulated; or
(c) that the construction of any building, or, the disposal of any substance, as is likely to occasion configuration or explosion, should be prevented or stopped; or
(d) that any building, tent or structure, or any tree is in such a condition that it is likely to fall and thereby cause injury to persons living or carrying on business in the neighbourhood or passing by, and that in consequence the removal, repair or support of such building, tent or structure, or the removal or support of such tree, is necessary; or
(e) that any tank, well or excavation adjacent to any such way or public place should be fenced in such manner as to prevent danger arising to the public; or
(f) that any dangerous animal should be destroyed, confined or otherwise disposed of, such Magistrate may make a conditional order requiring the person causing such obstruction or nuisance, or carrying on such trade or occupation, or keeping any such goods or merchandise, or owning, possessing or controlling such building, tent, structure, substance, tank, well or excavation, or owning or possessing such animal or tree, within a time to be fixed in the order-
(i) to remove such obstruction or nuisance; or
(ii) to desist from carrying on, or to remove or regulate in such manner as may be directed, such trade or occupation, or to remove such goods or merchandise, or to regulate the keeping thereof in such manner as may be directed; or
(iii) to prevent or stop the construction of such building, or to alter the disposal of such substance; or
(iv) to remove, repair or support such building, tent or structure, or to remove or support such trees; or Crl. Revision No. 21/15, Metro Life Line Hospital Vs. Sub Divisional Magistrate, Najafgarh and Crl. Revision No. 20/15 Hemant Kapoor Vs. Sub Divisional Magistrate, Najafgarh 10-12-2015 16 of 24
(v) to fence such tank, well or excavation; or
(vi) to destroy, confine or dispose of such dangerous animal in the manner provided in the said order; or, if he objects so to do, to appear before himself or some other Executive Magistrate subordinate to him at a time and place to be fixed by the Order, and show cause, in the manner hereinafter provided, why the order should not be made absolute.
(2) No order duly made by a Magistrate under this section shall be called in question in any Civil Court.
Explanation- A “public place” includes also property belonging to the State, camping grounds and grounds left unoccupied for sanitary or recreative purposes.
The object and public purpose behind section 133 is to prevent public nuisance that if the Magistrate fails to take immediate recourse to section 133 irreparable damage would be done to the public. The exercise of the power should be one of judicious discretions objectively exercised on pragmatic consideration of the given facts and circumstances from evidence on record. The proceedings under section 133 is not intended to settle private disputes or a substitute to settle civil disputes though the proceeding under section 133 is more in the nature of civil proceedings in a summary nature.
The proceedings under Section 133 are more in the nature of civil proceedings than of criminal nature. Section 133(1)(b) relates to trade or occupation which is injurious to health or physical comfort. It itself deals with physical comfort to the community and not with those which are not in themselves nuisance but in the course of which public nuisance is committed. In order to bring a trade or occupation within the operation of this Section, it must be shown that the interference with public comfort was considerable and a large section of the public was affected injuriously.