Remedies available to the persons wronged in a Tort of Nuisance

In a tort of nuisance the following remedies are available to the persons wronged:

(A) In case of Public Nuisance the following remedies are available:

(1) Under the criminal law: Under Sections 268 of the Indian Penal Code. Public Nuisance is a crime. According to this section a person is guilty of public nuisance who does any act, or is guilty of an illegal omission, which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to the public or to the people in general who dwell, or occupy property, in the vicinity or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction danger or annoyance to persons who have occasion to use any public right.

(2) Under the civil law: Under Section 91 of the Civil Procedure Code in the case of a public nuisance the Advocate General, or two or more persons having obtained, the consent in writing of the Advocate General may institute a suit though no special damage has been caused, for a declaration and injunction or for such other relief as may be appropriate in the circumstances of the case.

(B) In case of a private nuisance the plaintiff has the following remedies:

1. Abatement: A person injured by a nuisance may abate it. That is to say, he may remove that which causes the nuisance. In Lemon Webb, the house of Lords held that an occupier could lawfully remove those branches of his neighbour’s tree which projected above his own land and interfered with the growth of his own trees. Similarly an occupier may remove an obstruction to his right of light or to the flow of its natural stream. Abatement is remedy which the law does not favour. In exercising the right of abatement of a nuisance the following points must be taken into consideration:

(i) In the abatement of nuisance unnecessary damages must not be done, that is to say, the person complaining of the nuisance must not  do more damage to the property of others than is necessarily required in removing the nuisance.

(ii) Where there are more than one way of abating a nuisance the least mischievous one should be preferred.

(iii) In order to remove a nuisance one must not enter upon the land of third person who is innocent.

(2) Damages: The person complaining of a nuisance may file a suit for damages. As nuisance is concerned with interference with use of land, damages are measured in the light of depreciation in value of land caused by the defendant’s act. Where for instance a house is destroyed or damaged, then the measure of damages is the difference between the monetary value of the interest of the plaintiff before and after the event. Where business loss is suffered this is compensated for in nuisance. The measure of damages is always the pecuniary value of that which the plaintiff has been deprived of by the nuisance whether it be business profit, land value, damages to crop or the like.

3. Injunction: A person complaining of a nuisance may sue for restraining the defendant from using his property in such a way as not to cause nuisance. The plaintiff may seek both damages and injunction.

In an action for nuisance the plaintiff has to prove, (1) that he has some interest in the property to the enjoyment of which he complains  on to which some sensible injury is caused; and (2) that there bas been some violation by the defendant or his agent of some of the rights already discussed.

An injunction may be issued in a case of nuisance where although harm is reasonably feared to be eminent, no actual harm has yet occurred.

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