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  • Writer's pictureLAWGIC STRATUM


Author: Sneha Saha


Vicarious liability points out those situations where a person is held liable for the actions or omission of another person. Both the persons in case of vicarious liability are liable, on whose behalf the work is done and also the person does the act. Thus, for this to occur there should be a particular sort of connection between both persons and the act should be associated with the relationship. It is considered as an exemption to the general rule that the individual is liable for his acts as it were. The essentials of vicarious liability are:

  • There must be some kind of relationship between both the parties

  • The wrongful act which was instructed must be committed by that person, and

  • The wrongful act must be done during the tenure of the employment.

Employers are vicariously responsible for the misdeeds of their representatives during employment. These relationships exist between - master for the tort of his servant; principal for the tort of his agent; partners in the partnerships liable for each other's tort.

Principles of Vicarious liability:

1. Qui facit per alium facit per se, is comparative in the sense of the Latin maxim – Respondeat Superior, which is a customary premise of vicarious liability. That is to say, that a business is at risk for the results of any act done by workers in the customary course of their employment and duties. At the point when a representative is endowed by his boss to do some sort of works, for the benefit of or without the business or the expert, the worker or the worker is left to decide everything as per the conditions. It is the basic reason of office law. Be that as it may, this is not applied to Criminal Jurisprudence.

2. Respondeat Superior, This doctrine holds an employer or the head lawfully responsible/obligated for the wrongdoings of an employee or agent when it happens to the extent of the employment or organization. It depends on the idea of 'vicarious liability.' An employer is should be at risk for the careless act of his/her employer, done during employment. To force such risk, evidence showing the master-servant connection between the two parties existed is obligatory. The doctrine gives that an employer is dependent upon responsibility for misdeeds submitted by the employer while acting during their course of employment. Appropriately, a principle is needed to respond in due order regarding an agent's careless or in any case unjust activities, in the cases pertinent.

Liability arises for another's wrongful act:

By abetment, a situation where the defendant has prompted another for committing a crime. An individual who gets the demonstration the wrong of another is legally answerable for its consequences where on the off chance that he purposely and for his closures actuates someone else and when the act griped of is inside the privilege of the quick actor, for example, the utilization of illicit means coordinated against that by an outsider.

By ratification where a defendant has approved or endorsed accordingly the specific crime or exclusion having full information on its tortuous character whether it be to his burden or benefit. Such an act turns into the act of the principle similarly as though it were finished with his previous right. It is clarified through maxim 'Omnis ratihabitio retrotrahitur, et mandato priori aequiparatur' which implies that - each agree given to what in particular has effectively been finished, has a retrospective impact and equivalents an order. Hence ratification of an act relates and becomes equally relevant to the previous request.

Where a special relationship exists where the respondent stands to the by whom the wrongful act committed in a relationship which makes him liable for wrongs done by the latter, however not exceptionally approved, so the constituents of vicarious liability in any kind of special relationship are: There should be a relationship of a particular kind; the crime should be identified with the relationship with a particular way in mind; some crime has been done inside the course of employment.

How it is treated in India?

India doesn't have any legal provisions referencing the liability of the State in India. The situation of State liability as expressed in Article 300 of the Constitution is as under Clause (1) of Article 300 of the Constitution gives 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[i] and also that the Government of India or the Indian State may sue or be sued comparable to their separate undertakings in the like cases as the Dominion of India and provinces of India and lastly that the second referenced principle will be liable to any arrangements which might be made by an Act of Parliament or of the Legislature of such State, authorized by ideals of powers gave by the Constitution.

In B. Govindarajulu Chetty Vs M.L.A Govindaraja[ii] in this case, the owner handed his lorry to the defendant's shop for repairs. After repairing, the employee of the shop drove it and there an accident occurred. It was held that by the Madras High Court the owner of a lorry cannot be liable vicariously because here the owner of the shop is not a servant of the lorry owner he is just an independent contractor.


Vicarious liability is a legal idea, ordinarily alluded to as imputed liability too. It is an idea wherein law forces liability over an individual who didn't in a real sense has submitted any wrong however because of his place at the unrivalled stage of their relationship will be expected to take responsibility for some wrongdoings by their subordinates. The goal behind vicarious liability is to give proper compensation to the victim by the appropriate party who is responsible for the damage.


[i] Art. 300, Constitution of India, 1950 [ii] B. Govindarajulu Chetty Vs MLA. Govindaraja Mudaliar, AIR 1966 Mad 332.

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