Updated: May 20
Word “nuisance” derivative from the French word “nuire”, which suggests “to do hurt, or to annoy”. It means which causes offence, annoyance, trouble, or injury. Nuisance means anything which causes inconvenience, annoyance, or damage. Nuisance can be both public (common nuisance) as well as private.
A public-nuisance was described by English scholar Sir J. F. Stephen as, "an act not warranted by law, or an omission to discharge a duty, which act or omission obstructs or causes inconvenience or damage to the general public within the exercise of rights common to all Her Majesty's subjects". “Private nuisance is a tort to land that rests on what moral philosophers sometimes call the 'golden rule' of reciprocity. This is to say, it is about so using your land as not to injure another's, having regard to the essential 'give and take' of neighbourly relations”. Nuisance according to Indian law In India Public Nuisance is coded under Indian Penal Code in Section-268 which follows as – “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 general public or to the people generally who dwell or occupy property within the vicinity, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right”. A public nuisance is a common annoyance that affects the public and is a substantial annoyance to all the subjects. There may be an act or illegal omission causing an injury, it does not necessarily amount to public nuisance unless the injury so caused is common to the public. Health vs. Mayor of Brighton, (1908) 98 L.T. 718: 24 T.L.R. 414:- In this case, there was a suit filed for the order to grant the order of injunction in favor of incumbent and trustees of Brighton Church to restrain a Buzzing noise from the defendant’s power station. It was held that the noise wasn't disturbing the other person aside from the incumbent, and neither the noise was of such loud that it distracts other person came to attend church. Private Nuisances are a material discomfort and annoyance to a person within the use for ordinary purposes of his house or property. And it may only affect the owner of the house or property and not to the common people or public at large. The remedy in an action for private- nuisance may be a legal action for damages or an injunction or both and not an indictment. Elements of private nuisance A private nuisance is an unlawful interference with the property of a person which caused damages to the person to enjoy his right on the property. Thus the elements of private nuisance are as follow:- 1. Unreasonable or unlawful interference; 2. Interference with the use of the property or some right over the land or in connection with the land; 3. Damages. In Dilaware Ltd. v. Westminister council, (2001) 4 All ER 737 (HL):- The respondent was the owner of a tree growing within the footpath of a highway. The roots of the tree caused cracks to the neighbouring building. The transferee of the building, after the cracks were detected, was held entitled to recover reasonable remedial expenditure in respect of the whole damage from the continuing nuisance caused by the trees. Nuisance can be both tort or crime. Nuisance is tort when it committed against a single person or group of people to the property or house but it is crime when it is committed against the public or common people.