This case analysis has been done by Parul Sharma, pursuing BBA LLB from Centre for legal studies Gitarattan International Business School GGSIPU. In this case analysis, she is dealing with the case of Town Area Committee v. Prabhu Dayal. 


Town Area Committee v. Prabhu Dayal is one of the leading cases of the maxim ‘Damnum sine injuria’ which means “no action will lie if there is actual loss or damage but there has been no infringement of legal right”. Here, in this case, the plaintiff has to prove that he suffered because of an illegal act of the defendant, along with malice.


Justice Hari Swarup


Plaintiff’s case was that he had made the construction of 16 shops on the old foundations of the building and the defendant Town Area Committee illegally demolished these constructions. According to him the notice under Section 186 of the U.P. Municipal Act was bad as it gave to the plaintiff only two hours’ time to demolish the constructions and not a reasonable time as contemplated in Section 302 of the Act. It was also asserted that demolition after this notice was bad as the notice was served at a time when the plaintiff was out of the station. The action was said to be mala fide.

The plea of the defendant was that the constructions had been made by the plaintiff without giving the notice of intention to erect the building under Section 178 and without obtaining necessary sanction under Section 180 of the Act. It was asserted that the notice to demolish the constructions had been given earlier on 18th December requiring the stoppage of further constructions and removal of constructions already made and when it did not comply with an order had been passed by the District Magistrate directing the Town Area Committee to take action under Section 186. Thereafter another notice was given on December 21, which also was not complied with and only then the building was demolished in accordance with the law.


  1. Can Malice disentitle a person from taking a course of law?
  2. Can the plaintiff suffer legal injury because of an illegal act?

Legal Reasoning

Hari Swarup said, while reasoning, that the plaintiff could get compensation only if he had proved to have suffered an injury because of an illegal act of the defendant and not otherwise. Further, he said Malice does not enter the scene at all. A legal action, though motivated by malice, will not make the actor liable to pay the damage. Mere malice cannot disentitle a person from taking recourse to law for getting the wrong undone and that law does not take into account all harms suffered by a person which caused no legal injury. He recognized the damage that was done as damnum sine injuria and that the damage did not gave the sufferer any right to get compensation.

Damnum Sine Injuria

In respect of legal reasoning given by the bench in this case, the meaning of the soused maxim is important to understand. Damnum sine Injuria refers to as damages without injury or damages in which there is no infringement of any legal right which are vested with the plaintiff. If no legal right has been infringed so no action lies in the cases of damnum sine injuria.  The maxim is based on the general principle which is if one exercises his common or ordinary rights, within reasonable limits, and without infringing other’s legal right; such an exercise does not give rise to an action in tort in favour of that other person. Damages can be in any form either in the form of any substantial harm or loss suffered from respect to the money, comfort, health, etc.

This can be better explained in the following case:

Gloucester Grammar School Case [1]

The defendant was the schoolmaster intentionally opened the school in front of the plaintiff’s school, causing damage to him. Because of an increase in competition, the plaintiff had to reduce their fees from 40 pence to 12 pence per scholar per quarter. It was held that despite the plaintiff had suffered harm but there was no infringement of any legal right, therefore, the defendant couldn’t be held liable.

Mogul Steamship Co.  Vs.  McGregor Gow and Co. [2] 

In this case number of companies trading in steamships, combined their hands with the intention to drove the plaintiff’s company out of the tea-carrying company, by reducing and offering assistance at a reduced price. It was held that the plaintiff had no cause of action as no legal right were infringed by the other companies.

Ushaben vs. Bhagyalaxmi Chitra Mandir [3]

In the case, the plaintiff pleaded before the court of law to issue a permanent injunction order on the film named, “Jai Santoshi Maa”. According to her, the film harmed the religious feelings of the plaintiff. It was observed that hurting of religious sentiments did not result in any legal injury, and also that other than the plaintiff no other person feelings were hurt. Therefore, it was held that the defendant was not liable.


Justice Hari Swarup  held the decision by stating “There is no merit in the contention of the learned counsel that the plaintiff had suffered injuria by the act of the demolition of the building because he had a fundamental right to hold and enjoy the property even though it was constructed without prior sanction from Municipal authorities. There is no right to enjoy property not legally obtained or constructed. A person has been given by law a right to construct a building, but that right is restricted by various enactments, one of which is the U.P. Municipalities Act. If a person constructs a building illegally, the demolition of such building by the municipal authorities would not amount to causing “injuria” to the owner of the property. No person has the right to enjoy the fruits of an act which is an offence under the law. As the plaintiff has failed to prove that he had suffered injuria in the legal sense, he is not entitled to get any compensation”.


[1] (1410) Y.B. Hill 11 Hen, 4 of 47, p. 21, 36.

[2] (1892) A.C. 25.

[3] A.I.R. 1978 Guj. 13.

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