- Nobody shall make use of his property in a way which causes damage to others. Any such use constitutes private nuisance, a wrongful act under the law of torts.
Vasanth owned a house, adjacent to a cluster of houses, owned by Vardhan. Vardhan was leasing out these houses whereas Vasanth was living in his house. When Vasanth was transferred to another place, he leased out his house to a person suffering from AIDS. Fearing the spread of AIDS, the tenants moved out of Vardhan’s houses. Vardhan requested Vasanth to evict AIDS patient and he offered to fix a suitable tenant for Vasanth’s house, if the AIDS patient is evicted. But Vasanth refused by arguing that AIDS would not spread as feared by Vardhan’s tenants. Vardhan filed a suit against Vasanth.
- a) Vardhan will win, because Vasanth knowingly caused him financial damage
- b) Vardhan will not win, because Vasanth could lease his house to whomever he wanted;
- c) Vardhan will not win, because Vasanth has not made any such use which would reasonably affect Vardhan
- d) Vardhan will not win, since it is not his acts which caused the damage, but it was the tenant himself.
(c – this is in line with the reasoning given in the principle)
- Unlawful interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of his premises is a civil wrong and forbidden by law.
Ramarao’s neighbour was running a small printing establishment in his house. Though it created a lot of ruckus at times, the neighbourhood found it tolerable. One-day, Ramarao’s aged father came to his house to convalesce after a major operation. He found the noise intolerable. Ramarao took up the matter with his neighbour and the latter refused to oblige him. As a result, Ramarao’s father died on account of the irritation. Ramarao filed a suit to close the press.
- a) Ramarao would win, because his neighbour interfered in his right, to relax in his own house.
- b) Ramarao would win, because his neighbour did not oblige him even after knowing the serious condition of Ramarao’s father.
- c) Ramarao would lose, because his neighbour need not take into the individual problems of every neighbour around.
- d) Ramarao would lose, because his father’s condition made him a sensitive plaintiff.
(d – Let’s say, unlawful = unreasonable. Proceeding from there, the fact that the neighbourhood found it tolerable was testament to that that the act was not unreasonable. Secondly, if the act were to usually caused deaths, it would not be termed reasonable. However, Ramarao’s father’s death was caused allegedly because of the said act, but due to the preceding statement, we can safely say that it was unreasonable only in this case, whereas for others it was not. Hence, his father was a sensitive plaintiff, who was, additionally, brought to the nuisance.)
- The owner of immovable property is entitled to the column of airspace above the surface. However, the owner’s right to air and space above his land is restricted to such height as is necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of his land and the structures on it.
Galaxy Cable TV Network Company is providing cable connections to their customers. One of the cables passes over Ramesh’s house. He is not a customer of the Network Company. The cable is neither attached to his house nor to any projection thereof. It is at a distance of 20 feet above the terrace of Ramesh’s two-storied house. Because of the cable, Ramesh’s son Sachin is unable to fly a kite from the terrace. Ramesh requested the Network Company to change the position of the cable. But the company did not bother to change it. One evening Ramesh cut the cable and cleared the airspace above his house. The Network company suffered a loss of about Rs. 10,000. They bring a legal action against Ramesh for recovery of loss suffered.
- a) The Network Company will succeed because the cable was not interfering with the ordinary use and enjoyment of Ramesh’s property.
- b) The Network Company will not succeed because Ramesh has every right to ensure proper enjoyment of his property by removing objects causing trespass in the air above his property to a reasonable extent.
- c) The Network Company will succeed because laying cables is widely practised in all cities, just like electricity and telephone wires.
- d) None of the above.
(a – flying a kite on the terrace would not fall under reasonable use of airspace)
- Nobody shall unlawfully interfere with a person’s use or enjoyment of land, or some right over, or in connection with it. The use or enjoyment, envisaged herein, should be normal and reasonable taking, into account surrounding situation.
Krishnan and Kannan were neighbours in a residential locality. Kannan started a typing class in a part of his house and this typing sound disturbed Krishnan who could not put up with any kind of continuous, noise. He filed a suit against Kannan.
- a) Kannan is liable, because he should not have started typing classes in his house.
- b) Kannan is liable, because as a neighbour, he should have realised. Krishnan’s delicate nature.
- c) Kannan is not liable, because typing sound did not disturb anyone else other than Krishnan.
- d) Kannan is liable, since using his house, within a residential area, as a typing class was not reasonable.
- Nuisance is the interference with the enjoyment of one’s property.
Sagnik is a sitar player who often practices at home, and his room is largely sound proof. His neighbour, Bagul, is an old fellow with an extremely sensitive hearing condition – even the slightest of sounds affect his inner ear and destroy the balance. Once, as Sagnik was practicing at home, the sound of the sitar reached Bagul’s ears, he lost his balance and fell down, thereby injuring his knee badly. He sued Sagnik for damages.
- a) Bagul was visibly sensitive, and thus Sagnik’s interference was reasonable.
- b) Sagnik will be liable to pay since he was aware of his neighbour’s condition, but still persisted on playing the sitar.
- c) Sagnik will not be liable since, he had sound-proofed his home, and thus had taken precautions to prevent the sound from affecting the neighbours.
- d) None of the above.
(a – Sagnik has a right to play the sitar, which will not be negated by his neighbour’s poor health. ‘c’ has flawed reasoning, since nuisance does not rely on malice, and so, if his act was tortuous, he would be liable despite having taken the precautions.)
- Causing nuisance means unreasonable interfering with a person’s rights over his property.
‘A’ sets up a condiments store occupying the width of a stretch of footpath beside the boundary wall of Gokul Housing Society (GHS). ‘B’, a resident of ‘GHS’, sues ‘A’ for nuisance.
- a) ‘A’ is liable for public nuisance
- b) ‘A’ is not liable for nuisance
- c) ‘A’ is not entitled to carry on a trade of his choice
- d) ‘A’ is not liable to GHS but to B
(b – the principle has not defined what public nuisance is, so that ‘a’ can be cancelled out. As for causing nuisance to ‘B’ of a private nature, there is no such nuisance caused.)
- An act which has been consented to cannot later be claimed to be a nuisance.
Harry is a middle-aged banker residing on Bhukkad Street. Ron, who runs a furniture business, approaches Harry’s landowner to rent a flat from where they would conduct their business. The landowner stipulates that the new tenant must get the consent of the existing tenants in order to do so. Ron gets all the signatures, including Harry’s, and is allowed to set up shop. Within a couple of days, he shifts his workmen and materials into the flat, and they start building the furniture there itself. Harry is extremely unsettled by the noise, which lasts for almost 12 hours every day. Can he claim?
- a) Harry should not have signed the papers knowing that Ron has a furniture business, and will now have no remedy.
- b) Harry has no claim, since the workshop is a part of Ron’s business, to which he had consented.
- c) Harry can successfully sue Ron, since he had merely consented to business in the ordinary sense of sale-and-purchase, and not to the workshop. Ron’s business became a nuisance only when it was converted into a workshop.
- d) None of the above.
(c – straightforward application of the principle.)
- Prescriptive right is a defence to a claim of nuisance, wherein the tortuous activity is taking place for more than 20 years without any objection from the claimant.
Dr. Acula, a dentist, resides next to a bakery, Floury’s, which uses industrial grade machines. He has been residing there for 23 years, and the bakery has been in place for 36 years. In order to cut costs, he shifts his chamber to his home. Due to the noise, it is extremely hard for the doctor to concentrate during the intricate procedures, and he had to send back patients and reschedule appointments. This causes him noticeable losses. He sues the bakery for damages. Will Dr. Acula succeed?
- a) Dr. Acula will not succeed, since the facts clearly indicate that the activity has been conducted for more than 20 years, and thus, Floury’s has a prescriptive right.
- b) Dr. Acula will succeed since, he has a right to practice in his house peacefully, without any interference from the bakery.
- c) Dr. Acula will succeed, since the bakery’s acts became tortuous only when it interfered with the doctor’s enjoyment of his property, i.e., when he opened a chamber at his home.
- d) Dr. Acula will not succeed, since the bakery was already conducting its business for 36 years, and the doctor was well aware of the noise it created.
(c – quite straightforward. The right of peaceful enjoyment is a very basic tenet of the tort of nuisance, but in this case, we are looking for a very specific reasoning, so ‘b’ will not be the answer. ‘d’ is not sound reasoning, since the doctor has an equal right of conducting his trade as the bakery, and the principle of first-come-first-serve does not apply here at all.)
- Nobody shall unlawfully interfere with a person’s use or enjoyment of land, or some right over, or in connection with it.
Abhiroop buys a refrigerator for his hostel room. This however consumes a lot of energy that directly affects the energy supply in his neighbour, Riishi’s room. Riishi sues Abhiroop. Decide.
- a) Abhiroop is well within his rights to keep a refrigerator in his room, and would not be liable.
- b) Riishi has been disturbed by Abhiroop’s act and can hence seek compensation.
- c) Riishi must be more accommodating to his neighbour.
- d) None of the above.
(b – a similar case would be where a company puts up a billboard which casts a shadow over your house; given that you have right to receive proper sunlight, you can have it removed.)