The idea of absolute liability developed in India, in the case of M.C. Mehta versus Association of India prominently also called as Oleum gas leak case[1]. This case becomes one of the milestones because the total risk guideline came in this case. This standard is a sort of severe responsibility without any special case. That is under this guideline the respondent will not be permitted to argue any safeguard as there was under Rylands versus Fletcher case.

For this situation, the case was emerging from the spillage of oleum gas from the Shriram Food and Fertilizers Industries located in Delhi and it was owned by Delhi cloth mill limited and because of this spillage there was an immense death toll and numerous individuals experienced genuine wounds. The case was documented by a writ request under workmanship 32 of the Constitution via PIL. This was a case following 1 year of Bhopal Gas Leak case, in which likewise numerous individuals kicked the bucket. Along these lines, it was felt that there was a need to grow new guidelines as under severe obligation there were exemptions accessible for the respondent from which they can without much of a stretch flee from their risk. Subsequently, the new principle for example the standard of supreme risk was set down.

Under this standard, if any individual is occupied with any unsafe action and on the off chance that any mischief happens while completing such movement, the individual will be expected to take responsibility for the damage or the harm so happened under total obligation. Under this, he will not be permitted to accept any exemption as was under the standard of Strict Liability. This rule was set down based on the possibility that the endeavour who is procuring benefit from the overall population ought to likewise be held responsible if mischief happened because of their flaw. This standard was additionally applied to the Bhopal situation where a large number of casualties passed on and harmed because of the break of gas. After such occurrences, the Indian governing body passed PIL (Public liability insurance act) in the year 1991 to help the people in question.


  •  Dangerous Thing: according to the guidelines set out, the obligation of escape of a thing from a person’s territory will emerge just when the thing which is gathered is something perilous that is a thing which probably makes harm or injury others face to face or their property on its escape. In different misdeeds cases which have happened everywhere on the world, the regulation of severe obligation has held a huge waterway, gas, power, vibrations, sewage, banner shaft, explosives, toxic exhaust, corroded wires and so forth are sure things which go under the ambit of hazardous things.
  • Escape: It is anything that has led to any harm or mischief that ought to have gotten away from the zone which was heavily influenced by the defendant to go under the ambit of supreme responsibility.

Like it occurred on account of Read versus Lyons and Co, where the offended party was filling in as a worker in the defendant’s organization which was occupied with assembling shells. The mishap occurred while she was on her obligation that day inside the organization’s reason. It happened when a piece which was being produced there detonated and because of which the offended party endured hurt. After this occurrence and an argument was recorded against the defendant’s organization yet the court, at last, let go of the defendant and gave the decision that exacting risk isn’t appropriate here in this specific case. This was proclaimed by the court on the grounds that the blast that occurred was inside the defendant’s premises and not outside. What’s more, the idea says that it ought to have gotten away from the risky thing like shell here from the limits of the defendant premise which didn’t occur and was absent here. Along these lines, the carelessness with respect to the defendant couldn’t be demonstrated in court.

  • Non-natural utilization of land–Water gathered ashore for homegrown purposes doesn’t add up to non-characteristic utilization of land yet on the off chance that one is putting away it in enormous amounts like in a supply as it was the situation in Ryland versus Fletcher then it adds up to non-normal utilization of land. The contrast among natural and non-natural utilization of land by remembering the encompassing social conditions. As the developing of trees and plants ashore is considered as a characteristic utilization of land yet on the off chance that one beginning developing trees which are harmful in nature, it will be considered as non-natural utilization of land. On the off chance that an issue emerges between the litigant and the offended party despite the fact that the respondent is utilizing the land normally, the court won’t expect the respondent to take responsibility for his direct.
  • Mischief: To make the individual at risk under this standard, the offended party from the start has to prove that the opposition party which is the defendant has misused the land and the thing has got away leading to the injury caused to him.

On account of Charing Cross Electric Supply Co. versus Hydraulic Power Co., [2]the respondent was allotted to supply water for modern works. In any case, he couldn’t keep their mains accused of a base pressing factor that was required which prompted the blasting of the pipeline at better places. This brought about making weighty harm to the offended party which was demonstrated in the courtroom. The respondents were held at risk despite this that they were not to blame. These are the couple of rules where this precept is applied.


  1. Bhopal gas tragedy (Union Carbide Corporation versus Union of India) [3]

The principle of absolute liability was used in this case. On 3 Dec. 1984, this incident took place in which at night. A poisonous gas which was methyl-iso-cyanide leaked from the company located in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. It led to the loss of more than three thousand lives and became a major disaster. A lot of animals and plants were affected because of this. The effects of this tragedy were so intense that children born today are stillborn with some kind of deformities. As the company belongs to the U.S. In the court, a case was filled. But later the case was dismissed as they didn’t have the jurisdiction. So the government of India sued the union carbide company and enacted an act (Bhopal gas disaster act, 1985). The court made the company liable under absolute liability and asked the company to give damages to people affected by the incident.

  1. Indian council for enviro-legal action versus Union of India[4]

Under article 32 a PIL was filed by the petitioners as industries that were leading to large ecological contamination and imperiling the lives of locals who lived nearby the ventures. According to Article 21, the right was infringed by the industries as they could not live in a sound climate. The central government as well as the Pollution control board was ordered by the Supreme Court to take some strict steps. The court used absolute liability. It said that the climate should be re-established to a contaminant-free one which will be favourable for the living by using scientific appliances. The industries were held liable and were told to them they had to incur all the money even if for that they have to attach their property and were asked to pay damages to the people affected by it.


Absolute liability provides no exemption to the person hence the defendant will be the risk for the acts committed by him. The two famous historic cases which laid the foundation were Rylands versus Fletcher in which strict liability was used and M.C. Mehta versus Union of India in which absolute liability came into the picture.

Author’s Name: Riya Singh (NMIMS Bangalore)

Image Reference


[1] M.C. Mehta versus union of India AIR [1987] 965

[2] Charing cross electric supply co vs. Hydraulic power con [1914] 3KB 772A

[3] Union carbide corporation v Union of India [1991] 4 SCC 548

[4] Indian council for enviro legal action v.1 Union of India AIR [1996] SC 1446

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