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BY-Shaik Lalbee

(Damodaram Sanjivayya National law University)

Bonafide means "In good faith”. It conveys unintended deceit. It applies to deliberate integrity. Bona fide is a mental dishonesty-negative condition, which has no connection to neglect or treatment. Bona fide means genuine or in good faith. It means only a denial of fraud or dishonesty, and a genuine transaction. While the sense of good faith may vary in the light of various laws, topics, and circumstances, a constant feature of its connotation is honest intention free from taint or deceit or deceptive nature. The word Malafide can include deliberate deceit or self-deception on the part of others. Bad faith means ill intent or malice. Bad faith refers to a state of mind driven by ill intent or other malicious intentions.


Bona fide is a Latin term signifying good faith. Honesty is the core of Good Faith itself. While the meaning of good faith can vary in the light of various rules, subjects, and situations, a constant characteristic of its connotation is pure purpose free of taint or deception or dishonest design.The aspect of Good faith incorporated by the meaning provided by the General Clauses Act is not imposed by the Indian Penal Code interpretation, it is to be questioned whether an individual has behaved with proper consideration and concern. There is no question that his simple argument that the victim assumed that what he claimed was valid on its own was not going to help his statement in good faith. Simple self-confidence or real expectation is not enough. The individual must explain that confidence in good faith with impugned argument has a logical foundation and is not merely a plain blind conviction.

Legal provisions in Indian law:

Section 3(22) of the General Clauses Act describes 'Bonofide the Good faith' as 'no thing is considered to be done in 'good conscience' where it is genuinely done fairly, whether or not it is done carelessly. Bonofide (good faith) means something done in an upright way, whether done negligently or not. It could not be said that a person acts honestly where he has a suspicion that something is wrong and does not carry out further enquiries. The well-known logical hypothetical man makes the moral inference. For the purposes of determining if anything has been done in good conscience what is to be seen is if an entity or a person, being aware of a potential harm to others, behaves in careless disregard of repercussions in spite of that. If so, that will be a case of mala fides, insofar as the actor's real state of mind is important.

It may seem that, for the purposes of describing the term 'made in good faith (Bonofide),' as laid down in section 3(22) of the General Clauses Act, any behavior taken by a individual who is conscious of the possible harm to others in complete disregard of the implications can be regarded as risky (Shareef Ahmad v. Wealth Tax Commissioner [1979] 117 ITR 35).

It is important to remember Section 52 of the Indian Penal Code that describes 'good faith' because nothing is alleged to be performed or believed in a 'good faith' performed or believed without due consideration or attention. According to IPC, good faith requires proper care and consideration and it should be performed without carelessness and neglect for an act to be carried out in good faith. Anything is performed or assumed without consideration and commitment for the purposes of civil prosecution cannot be claimed to have been accomplished or assumed in good faith. In quasi-criminal cases such as punishment trials, it is this concept that will in either situation be more important when determining the person's state of mind for the purposes of drawing a decision, whether there is a deliberate concealment or not. If this concept were taken into account, it should be obvious that instances of extreme negligence, which will undoubtedly entail a need for proper care and treatment, should prove a culpable state of mind. If, through gross incompetence, the assesse induces tax avoidance or tax fraud resulting in damages on public revenue, it cannot be claimed that he has behaved in good faith (Commissioner of Income Tax v. Drapco Electric Corporation [1980] 122 ITR 341). In this scenario, the inference this excessive negligence is equivalent to the loss of bona fides can be reasonably met.


· Logic and a reason;

· A good intention with;

· Due or reasonable care; and

· With expertise or a skill.

An act not intended to cause death by good faith consent to the benefit of a person:

Section 88 of the Indian Penal Code stipulates that if the purpose is not to cause death but for some other motive, it can cause harm or be deliberately caused by the doer or the doer knows that it is likely to cause harm to any person for whom it is done in good faith and also explicitly or indirectly consented to suffer or threaten the harm.

An act is performed in good conscience for the sake of a child or a fool or with a guardian's permission:

Section 89 of the Indian Penal Code notes that any act committed in good conscience and for the gain of a child who is under the age of twelve years or who is of unstable mind by the guardian himself or by any other individual who is lawfully in custody of that child, even directly or indirectly, is not an offense even though it is likely to inflict injury to the person.

Article 92: An act performed without consent in good conscience

Section 92 describes an offense as not just a specific event or occurrence unless there are these reasons:

• When any injury is caused on a individual for whose gain it is performed in good conscience, often without the permission of the victim;

• Especially if the conditions were such that the individual could not give the permission, or

• That the individual could not give the consent, and

• The individual therefore has no parent or other official in lawful control of the entity from whom it is necessary to procure the permission in time for the purpose of the matter.

Communication in good faith:

Indian Penal Code Section 93 describes correspondence rendered in good faith.

This says that if anything is done in good faith to someone else and to that person's advantage then it is not an offence even if the person suffers any damage through the contact.

Plea of Bonofide (good faith) as a defence:

In addition to Sections 88, 89, 92 and 93, the few other sections of the Indian Penal Code which use good faith as a defence are:

Section 76 states that an act done in good conscience because of an mistake in truth by a person who feels that he is obliged by statute to do so is not an offence.

Section 77 states that it is not an offence for any judge to act in the exercise of his law-given judicial authority in which he feels it is so in good faith.

Section 78 if an act carried out in compliance with the statute or any judicial order during the execution of such a judgment or order, and even if the judge had no authority to issue that judgment or order, except on the condition that the act was carried out of good conscience, assuming that the judicial has such power, it shall not be considered an offence.

Section 79 states that an act committed in good faith by a individual is not an offence because of an mistake in fact and thus assumes that it is justified by statute.

In Keso Sahu and ors V. Saligram Shah [1977 CriLJ 1725] case, the complainant took in good conscience the cart and the cart man to the police station because he felt the smuggling crime was going on but he was found to be mistaken. The victim was held to be entitled to take the excuse of factual error because the act was performed in good conscience and the same is supported by statute.

Exception 3 of Section 300 states that a guilty homicide is not a murder in which the perpetrator is in some manner a public servant, supports a public servant or works in the interest of public justice, violates the powers granted by statute in good faith or assumes that he is a legitimate and required person to perform his responsibility and, if the consequence is the death of the other person, he is considered not to have committed the offence.

An amendment to Section 339 states that it is not a crime in which a person of good conscience assumes that he or she has a legal right to hinder another person by means of private property or water.

An exception to Section 499 is that any judgment held in good faith that respects the actions or character of a public official or the facts of any case determined by a court or that respects the validity of any author's success or any claim rendered in good faith by a person to defend his or her rights and other rights is not an offense.


The word Malafide can include deliberate fraud or self-deception on the part of others. Bad faith suggests ill intent or hostility. Bad faith refers to a situational state of mind driven by ill intent, or sometimes dark purposes. Mala fides is a Latin word meaning 'In bad faith.'

For instance, an understanding of a specified commodity by a seller may be used for whatever purpose while the seller already knows it is not. A mala fide buyer is someone who buys goods from someone else under the impression that it was robbed. In the other side, a bona fide purchaser buys land without knowing that the lender has no legal rights over the property.

In fact Malafide means basically: "In bad faith; with purpose to deceive" Malafide actions are commonly used in all fields of law, in Judicial situations the argument of malafide motive is rendered more frequently; judicial disputes in which an appeal is sought to an administrative decision / motion. The individual bringing these accusations before the platform is liable for demonstrating malafide intention. Indian courts should therefore ask with the truth regarding the implications of the accusation.

In Sri Suresh Kumar Goyal and Ors.V. State of U.P[AIR 2019 SC 535] Although setting aside the lower court orders and approving the petition, the supreme court also permitted the plea to be discharged thus providing the respondent a path to compensate the appellant an sum of twenty-five thousand as the case was in fact mala fide.

The law in general:

There the specific intent is different from that allowed by statute, because the statutory authority is theoretically utilized for the approved reason, but in fact for the illegal purpose, the control is claimed to be Malafied. Malafides or poor faith implies wilful dishonesty or unethical intentions. This is found at West Minister Corporation V. London & West Northern Railway Company. Intentional dishonest act by failing to fulfill legal or contractual obligations, misleading another, entering into an agreement without the intention or means of fulfilling it, or violating fundamental standards of honesty in dealing with others. Lawyers familiar with the phraseology used in the exercising of legislative control frequently use the term 'unreasonable' in a very detailed way. This has also been used and is still used as a generic definition of activities that cannot be accomplished. The unreasonable ness that is in bad conscience is a malafide motive because that is the aspect that says that someone's behaviour renders it more illegal for a malicious purpose under the statute. The intent proved as a malafide would be punished by law.

Related case laws:

Sarva Shramik Sang V. Indian Oil Corporation. Ltd., [AIR 2009 SC 2355]:

The court ruled that a mandamus letter should be given in the case that the device declined. Policy has been on null, unreasonable or alien grounds, or whether it is mala fide.

Pratap Singh V. State of Punjab, [A.I.R. 1964 S.C. 72]:

The court holds that the case comes beyond the framework of service law in India and as such should be addressed in its proper position, but it is also important to refer to the case here because it tends to lay the wide-based foundation of malafides law in India giving it ample shape and substance to create subsequent superstructures. In this case, it was held that if that functionary (Punjab's chief minister) were acting by mala-fides in taking any action, it is clear that it will vitiate positive action.

Snort V. Poole Corporation, [(1926) Ch. 66]:

"When an effort is made to wield such forces corruptly as under the control of coercion, or malafied for any immoral reason, the effort will fail. It's zero and null.”


The word ‘Bonofide (good faith)’ is a rather reasonable rule, because it grants protection to certain individuals whose acts are marked by risk-taking for the advantage of the individual or community. Often, the word does not have an objective meaning as it relies on case by case, but the same can be performed with proper care and consideration for an act to be undertaken in good faith. Mens rea is an integral factor of constituting a offence, so actions lacking the same are excluded from criminal obligation. Malafide intent is not the same as incompetence or a previous decision. One may make an innocent error regarding one's own rights and responsibilities, but where someone else's rights are deliberately or maliciously infringed, such conduct proves bad faith. The appearance of bad faith will mitigate or annul any allegations a party makes in a case. Between bona fide and mala fide purpose which one is more negative depends on the person's intent. This always relies upon the particular person's past track record. Upgrades to Bona fide, mala fide degrades social standing. Bona fide may be mala fide but may not be bona fide, mala fide.






[DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information only. We have tried to include as much information as possible but there are chances that some important information may have been missed .It is NOT to be substituted for legal advice or taken as legal advice. The publishers of the this article shall not be liable for any act or omission based on this note].

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