Absolute Liability

In a tort, whenever the wrongdoer has done any wrong then he/she has to provide compensation to the victim, this compensation, basically termed as a liability. This liability is also known as the liability ‘without fault’. In this, a person is liable because he uses something Hazardous. When because of these types of things anyone suffers from loss or damage then the wrongdoer is absolutely liable without any fault at his or her part. If associate degree trade is engaged in some variety of dangerous activity from that it’s explanation industrial gain which activities, somehow, ends up in mass damage or hurt, then, the liability is that the absolute liability.

This liability was primarily introduced by the Supreme Court of India once the disreputable Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984.


Law ought to be dynamic and keep ever-changing consistent with the requirements of recent world. It will not be appropriate to use centuries recent principles and laws on gift cases and incidents because the world is changing or up in terms of technology, economic activities, behaviour, culture and in overall the least bit aspects. The conception of Absolute liability was additionally evolved within the same manner where economic activities and industrial enterprise in today’s frame is way totally different from what it had been in the past. So, the principle of ‘No Fault Liability’ [1]was introduced that is that the base for absolute liability conception. In the Republic of India, the requirement for such a principle arose out of unfortunate tragic incidents like ‘ Bhopal Gas Leak Case’ and ‘Oleum Gas Leak Case’ wherever the Supreme Court of the Republic of India stepped in and commenced to carry this principle of absolute liability that truly evolved from the principle of ‘ No Fault liability’ in English law.

So, we will have an easy formula for absolute liability

i.e. Absolute liability = Strict liability – Exceptions

To understand this higher we want to understand what’s the strict liability that is additionally called ‘ No-fault liability’.

Strict Liability:

When due to the negligence of the tortfeasor, any dangerous thing escapes

from his/ her premises and harms anyone/ something, then the liability is alleged to be strict liability.

Absolute Liability:

This liability is extremely kind of like strict liability however here are few major differences which are as follows:

1. The magnitude of the destruction: within the absolute liability, the destruction is mass destruction, while in strict liability, this destruction is restricted on the extent.

2. Defence against the Tort: within the Absolute Liability, there’s no defence whereas in strict

liability, the tort-feasor will set the defence (an act of god being one among them).

In India, this principle was foremost command by Supreme Court of India just in case of MC Mehta V. Union of India, additionally referred to as oleum gas leak case et al that function a landmark judgement within the history of by Indian Judiciary


In the month of December 1985, there was a run of oleum gas from one among the units of Shriram Food And Fertilizers, Delhi that killed an advocate and a number of others and severe disabilities and diseases to several, even once generations the youngsters wherever born out of deformities as a result of this accident. The apex court during this matter refused to follow the principle of strict liability and came with a replacement philosophical system of absolute liability wherever the aggrieve parties ought to be paid while not accessibility of any defence. The apex court additionally took the view that it won’t be appropriate to use the principle of strict liability within the case of Rylands vs. Fletcher, a two-century previous philosophical system in gift epoch of industry wherever there require a lot of stricter laws and principles to stop such accidents and to guard normal people.

The Supreme Court came with the philosophical system of absolute liability that is wider than the rule of ‘ no-fault liability’ and additionally solves problems associated with workmen operating underneath unsafe conditions and their compensation. Once the Oleum gas leak incident The Public Liability Insurance Act 1991 [2]was enacted that aims to produce fund to compensate victims of such accidents wherever it clearly talks about hazardous substances and handling it.

Essentials of Absolute Liability:

  1. Dangerous Thing–

As per the foundations set down, the liability of escape of a thing from an individual’s land can arise only if the issue that is collected could be a dangerous issue that’s an issue that possible causes injury or injury to people personally or their property on its escape. In numerous torts cases that have happened everywhere the globe, the philosophy of strict liability has controlled an outsized body of water, gas, electricity, vibrations, sewage, flag-pole, explosives, degrading fumes, rusty wires etc. are sure things that return below the reach of dangerous things.

  • Escape–

Something that has caused injury or mischief ought to have at large from the world that was below the management of the suspect to return below the reach of absolute liability. love it happened within the case of Read vs Lyons and Co. [3] wherever the complainant was working as an employee in the defendant’s company that was engaged in producing shells. The accident happened whereas she was on her duty that day among the company’s premise. It happened once a chunk that was being factory-made there exploded and thanks to that the complainant suffered hurt. when this incident and a case was filed against the suspect’s company however the court eventually relinquishing the defendant and gave the decision that strict liability isn’t applicable here during this explicit case. This was declared by the court as a result of the explosion that came about was among the defendant’s premises and not outside. and also, the thought says that it ought to have at large the harmful issue like shell here from the boundaries of the suspect premise that didn’t happen and was missing up here. So, the negligence[4] on a part of the suspect couldn’t be well-tried within the court.

  • Non-natural use of land–

Water collected toward land for domestic functions doesn’t quantity to non-natural use of land however if one is storing it in massive quantities like during a reservoir because it was the case in Ryland vs Fletcher[5] then it amounts to non-natural use of land. The distinction between natural and non-natural use of land by keeping in mind the encircling social conditions. As the growing of trees and plants on land is examined as a natural use of land but if one starts growing trees which are poisonous in nature then it will be examined as non-natural use of land. If a problem arises between the suspect and also the complainant even if the suspect is victimization the land naturally, the court won’t hold the suspect to blame for his conduct.

  • Mischief-

To form the person liable below this principle, the complainant initially has to show that the suspect had done the non-natural use of land and at large the harmful issue that he has on his land that resulted within the injury any. within the case of Charing Cross Electric Supply Co. vs Hydraulic Power Co. [6],the suspect was allotted to provide water for industrial works. However, he was unable to stay their mains charged with a minimum pressure that was needed that crystal rectifier to the exploding of the pipeline at completely different places. This resulted in inflicting serious injury to the complainant that was well-tried within the court of law. The defendants were controlled liable in spite of this that they weren’t guilty. These are the few rules wherever this philosophy is applied.

Scope of Rule of Absolute Liability:

In most of the places, the rule of strict liability and absolute liability square measure seen as exceptions within the law. And also, the individual is command liable only he/she is guilty. But, in such cases, the individual can be command guilty notwithstanding he’s not guilty. When the harmful accident of Oleum Gas Leak case the act of The Public Liability Insurance Act 1991 was introduced with the most purpose of providing immediate relief to those that square measure victims of the accident during which handling of unsafe substances is concerned. The agenda behind this act was that the act can produce a public insurance fund which is able to eventually be used for the aim of compensating the victims. Unsafe substance below this act is outlined as any substance that by reason of its chemical or any properties is vulnerable to cause any harm to men, alternative living creature, plants, organism, property or to the atmosphere. The term handling is delineated in section 2(c) of The Public Liability Insurance Act 1991 [7]that is that the clear expression of the rule of absolute liability set down in M.C Mehta vs Union of India[8].

Absolute Liability vs. Strict Liability:

  • Whereas principle of strict liability permits exceptions if the liability has been increased by an Act of God[9], act of third party etc., absolute liability offers no exception to the industries involved in dangerous activities.
  • Under absolute liability, the extent of damages is exemplary and depends on the magnitude and financial capability of the institute, however, under strict liability, compensation is payable as per the nature and quantum of damages caused.
  • Under the philosophical system of absolute liability, the part of escape isn’t essential. In alternative words, rule of absolute liability shall be applicable to those wounded at intervals the premise and person outside, that isn’t within the case of strict liability.


The belief of Absolute liability could be a deviation from the principle that somebody commits an offence once he’s guilty. The belief of absolute liability will create anyone liable even though he is not guilty and might go with no defense that we tend to might imagine, as against the principle of natural justice wherever everyone seems to be allowed to defend their case. However, I feel that the Indian Judiciary had come back up with the proper call by holding a brand-new belief. The most reasons could be such huge company companies will come back up with defense all the time and escape through loopholes of law. during an extremely developing economy like India wherever the venturesome or inherently dangerous industries square measure necessary to hold out development programmed; it had been vital to modify the principles as per the current necessities to guard standard folks.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQs):

  1. Is there any defence available in absolute liability?
  2. What is the difference between absolute and strict liability?
  3. In which case the principle of absolute liability was firstly held by Supreme Court?
  4. Which gas was leaked in Bhopal gas tragedy?
  5. Name the essentials of absolute liability?


[1] Legal responsibility (liability) to compensate another person for injury, irrespective of any carelessness or negligence on the part of the person required to pay.

[2] The main objective of the Public Liability Insurance Act 1991 is to provide for damages to victims of an accident which occurs as a result of handling any hazardous substance. The Act applies to all owners associated with the production or handling of any hazardous chemicals.

[3]  (1947) A.C. 156

[4] failure to take proper care over something.

[5] (1868) LR 3 HL 330

[6] (1914) 3 KB 772

[7] (c) “handling”, in relation to any hazardous substance, means the manufacture, processing, treatment, package, storage, transportation by vehicle, use, collection, destruction, conversion, offering for sale, transfer or the like of such hazardous substance;

[8] 1987 AIR 1086, 1987 SCR (1) 819

[9] an instance of uncontrollable natural forces in operation.

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