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What Is Absolute Liability

Absolute Liability

Officials in the industry are responsible for compensating the injured parties if an industry or enterprise engages in an activity that is inherently dangerous but generates financial benefit. If the activity is capable of causing catastrophic damage.

Essential Elements Of Absolute Liability:

  1. Dangerous Item:
    The owner will only be held responsible if a dangerous item has escaped from their property. Additionally, the object has the potential to harm anyone and any property on its escape. The following items have been deemed dangerous in a number of strict liability cases: a sizable pool of water, electricity, gas, explosives, fumes, rusty wires, etc.
  2. Escape:
    The defendant is completely liable for any dangerous item that escaped from their control and caused damage to the plaintiff's property or personal injury to anyone. Read v. Lyons and Co. The plaintiff in this case worked for the defendant's manufacturing business. as she performed her duty She was seriously hurt when an explosion from a manufactured object occurred.

    The plaintiff was performing her duty when the accident happened, according to the court, and it happened while she was on the job. According to the ruling, the defendant cannot avoid his responsibility and the strict liability principle is not relevant in this situation. The accused was made accountable.
  3. Non-natural use of land Water collection for domestic use alone is not considered a non-natural use of land, but water collection in large quantities, such as that found in a reservoir, is considered a non-natural use of land. It was determined in the case of Ryland v. Fletcher that the large-scale collection of water constitutes an unnatural use of land.

    The fundamental distinction between a natural and non-natural use of land is made by considering the environment, society, and what a reasonable person would do. When someone plants trees on their property, that is considered a natural use of the land; however, when they plant poisonous trees, that is considered a non-natural use of the land.
  4. Mischief:
    In order to hold someone accountable under this principle, the plaintiff must first demonstrate that the defendant made an unnatural use of the land and avoided a potentially dangerous situation on it, which furthered the injury
Charing Cross Electric Supply Co. v. Hydraulic Power Co. is the case at hand. Water delivery duties were given to the defendant at various locations. The pipeline bursts at various locations because the defendant failed to maintain the minimum pressure that was required of him. The plaintiff sustained severe damages as a result. Despite not being at fault in this instance, the defendant was still held liable.

Absolute Liability = (Strict Liability- Exceptions)

When compared to the previous rule, the absolute liability rule has a much wider scope in all respects. due to the fact that the new rule does not include any exceptions for it. It does not only cover personal injuries brought on by neighbor misconduct, but also public negligence or fault. Now, it makes people liable who are not the land's owner in addition to those who occupy the property.

In the case of M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, which is one of the landmark decisions in India's legal history, absolute liability has been raised. Following this case, a rule was established that any business that is involved in any type of hazardous or inherently dangerous material that, if it causes any harm, the company will be held fully responsible for compensating all those affected, as it did in the case of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

M.C Mehta V. Union Of India (Bhopal Gas Tragedy)

  1. M.C. Mehta filed a writ petition under Articles 21 and 32 of the Constitution. As Shriram Food and Fertilizer manufactured dangerous substances and was situated in Kirti Nagar's densely populated area, he sought closure for the company. Oleum gas leaked from one of the petition's units while it was still being processed, killing one of the petition's advocates and negatively impacting the health of several others.
  2. A significant number of people, including both employees and members of the general public, were impacted by the Bhopal gas disaster just one year later. Additionally, this incident makes us think of the Bhopal gas tragedy.
  3. As soon as the Inspector of Factories and the Commissioner (Factories) issued separate orders, factories were shut down. During this incident, It took place just a few months before the Environment (Protection) Act went into effect, serving as a model for an effective law like this.

Contention & Issue:
  1. Whether such hazardous industries to be allowed to operate in such areas?
  2. If they are allowed to work in such areas, whether any regulating mechanism be evolved?
  3. How to determine liability and amount of compensation?

  1. In this case of an oil gas leak, a five-judge SC panel led by Justice PN Bhagwati established the principle of ABSOLUTE LIABILITY.
  2. Even though the establishment of the hazardous industries is necessary for the advancement of society and the economy, they cannot escape their obligations by demonstrating either that they were not careless in handling the hazardous substance or that they took all reasonable precautions while handling it.

    As a result, the court applied the absolute, no-exceptions no-fault liability principle in this instance. Before it established this rule, or before 1987, these risky industries would use strict liability exceptions to avoid their obligations.
  3. The court also cited the Rylands v. Fletchers case in its ruling, highlighting that the strict liability rule has some exceptions. Rylands v. Fletchers was decided in 1866, a year in which significant advances in science and technology prevented the establishment of such dangerous industries in such close proximity to densely populated areas.

The law needs to change as society develops. So, without requiring the industry to be present in the case, the court declared the industry "absolutely liable" and ordered compensation to be paid as soon as the injury was established.

Importance Of M.C Mehta V. Union Of India

One of the pivotal cases in environmental advocacy is MC Mehta v. Union of India. Strict Liability, as outlined in Ryland v. Fletcher, was in effect up until the MC Mehta v. Union of India case. According to this theory, any inherently dangerous acts committed on the property of the industry owner or operator would subject them to liability. The defense of "Act of God" is one of many defenses and limited exceptions to the strict liability principle.

Technology development and industrialization have greatly increased the number of hazardous substances and gases, endangering the environment. As a result, Absolute Liability was used in the Oleum Gas Leakage case in place of the Strict Liability principle.

An important section is the MC Mehta v. Union of India case. the Supreme Court held a company entirely accountable for the gas leakage for the first time in Indian judicial history, regardless of its defense or claimed loss. Additionally, the case provided guidance for all industries by outlining stringent security standards.

Critical Analysis
The decision is still regarded as a significant decision in the area of environmental law in our nation. The judgement addressed a number of novel circumstances and approaches to the legal system and the fundamental rights. The court continues to apply the stances established in this case. As a result, this case represented a major court decision in Indian legal history.

The case brought the seriousness of environmental issues before the entire nation and wasn't just about people's rights, compensation, and economic losses. This and the Bhopal gas tragedy both had very dangerous effects on the environment. The threat to the environment is very immediate in the current world of industrial development and technological advancement.

As important as this development is for the advancement of society, there is an urgent need to draw attention to the environmental issues that it poses. We are getting closer to the end of the environment with each day that goes by. Everyone who lives on this planet has access to the environment, and it is everyone's human right to enjoy a safe and healthy environment. It is also everyone's duty to work for it and make contributions to its improvement.

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