A layman, I'm looking at educating myself with the basics of law.

Jurisdiction: India

Relevant Law: Perhaps None Applicable. I may be wrong.

This content I have writes to present a legal principle with an example, and the lesson.

Principle: A person is not liable for a tort committed by his/her child except when the parent affords the child an opportunity to commit it.

Example: A mother takes her 7yo child with her in the car to the market. Once there, she kills the engine, engages the handbrake, and puts the car in gear. Then she goes shopping leaving the child unattended in the car. The child, in playing with the controls, sets the car in motion which then kills a pedestrian.

The lesson here is that the mother is liable in tort as she was negligent.

It appears to me the mother took all necessary precautions in engaging the handbrake, and putting the car in gear.

How is the legal principle established in this example?

  • 6
    Not familiar with Indian law, but if you successfully argue that it's not surprising that an unattended 7 year old in a car might play with the controls of a car, then by leaving an unattended 7 year old in the car she did not take all necessary precautions. If it was surprising or nor may not just depend on the court but also on the child and any evidence of their past behavior.
    – Peter
    Commented Feb 27, 2022 at 9:27
  • please tag the jurisdicion in the future; Child Protection laws diverge vastly in different countries: what is legal in India might be illegal in Japan and unregulated in Somalia.
    – Trish
    Commented Feb 27, 2022 at 13:03
  • 1
    @Trish it seems that this question is not about child protection but about a parent's liability for actions of a child.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 27, 2022 at 22:01
  • @Trish Stating the jurisdiction in the body of the question is also perfectly fine -- anyone may then add the tag. Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


The registered owner of a motor vehicle in India has vicarious legal liability for accidents involving the vehicle (at least absent a theft of the vehicle) even if the owner is not the person operating the vehicle at the time.

The link discusses a case where there was liability on the part of the registered owner and the registered owner's insurance company for an accident of the operator of the vehicle who purchased the vehicle when the parties had not yet registered the change in ownership. See Surendra Kumar Bhilwale v. The New India Company Assurance Limited, Civil Appeal No. 2632 (SCC June 18, 2020). But the same body of law applies in the case in the question.

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