Vicarious liability, also known by the Latin term respondeat superior,
or by imputed liability, is a legal concept that assigns liability to an
individual who did not actually cause the harm, but who has a specific superior
legal relationship to the person who did cause the harm. Originated from English
Common Law. This principle originates from the maxim, Qui Facit per Alium
Facit per sewhich means he who does an act through another is deemed in law
to do it himself. Constituents of Vicarious Liability include.
(1) There must be a relationship of a certain kind.
(2) The wrongful act must be related to the relationship in a certain way.
(3) The wrong has been done within the course of employment.
Under Civil Law
An act is deemed to be done in the course of employment if the authority to give
a wrongful act is given by the master to the servant; or some legal act is done
by the servant in an illegal way. By these one can be made liable in civil law:
·If there be some relationship between the wrongdoer and the other
·If the person abets the wrongful act or omission committed by the other
·If the former ratifies or authorizes the act of the other knowing that
the act committed or omission done was tortious in nature.
·As standing towards the party who committed a wrong in such a relation
that it entails responsibility for the acts or omission done by the other
Under Criminal Law
The principle which is followed in the criminal law is that a person may be held
liable as the principal offender, even though the actus reus
was committed by
some other person. The law focuses on the relationship between the two parties
and attributes the act of the one to the other. It should be noted that the
concept of vicarious liability is a civil concept and in the case of criminal
law it is an exception rather than a rule.Under Section 149of the IPC if any
member of an unlawful assembly commits any offense in furtherance of a common
objective, every member of that unlawful assembly will be held liable for that
offence. Section 154says If such occupier or owner or any person who has
some interest in the piece of land does not inform the proper public authority
about unlawful assembly on that land, will also be held liable for such
activities..Section 155also makes a person vicariously liable on the owner
or occupier of the land for the omission of their agent or manager if any
activity takes place on the land and the agent or manager does not prevent
illegal activities happening on their property.
Vicarious Liability Of State
In India our Constitution is supreme and the doctrine King can do no wrong
no applicability. And thus, state can be made party and be made liable
vicariously for the acts of its employees and thus state.The position of State
liability as stated in Article 300of the Constitution is that the Government of
India may sue or be sued by the name of the Union of India and the Government of
a State may sue or be sued by the name of the State;
In, Shambhu Nath Singh and Ors. v/s State of Bihar
AIR 1960 SC 725,it
was said that Section149of the Indian Penal Code is declaratory of the
vicarious liability of the members of an unlawful assembly for acts done in
prosecution of the common object of that assembly or for such offences as the
members of the unlawful assembly knew to be likely to be committed in
prosecution of that object.
In, Superintendent and Remembrance of Legal Affairs, West Bengal v/s Corp. of Calcutta
AIR 1960 SC 1355,it was held. Civil and criminal statues now apply to
citizens and state alike and state is equally bound.
In, Aneeta Hada and Ors. v/s. Godfather Travels and Tours Pvt. Ltd. and Ors.
SC2795,it was laid down that a corporate entity can also be held liable
vicariously for the wrongful acts.
In Vinubhai Ranchhodbhai Patel v/s. Rajivbhai Dudabhai Patel and Ors
AIR 2018 SC 2472 it was said that Section 149 propounds a vicarious liability in
two contingencies by declaring that if a member of an unlawful assembly commits
an offence in prosecution of the common object of that assembly, then every
member of such unlawful assembly is guilty of the offence committed by the other
members of the unlawful assembly and also even in cases where all the members
of the unlawful assembly do not share the same common object to commit a
particular offence, if they had the knowledge of the fact that some of the other
members of the assembly are likely to commit that particular offence in
prosecution of the common object.