Mala prohibita

Mala prohibita

Literal Meaning

Crimes prohibited.


This maxim refers to actions that are wrong simply because laws have been passed prohibiting them. Mala prohibita crimes require proof that they are wrong, and that the accused person actually committed the act. These are the types of acts that, while it may not immediately appear that they directly harm someone, are still against the law.




Mala prohibita includes public intoxication, carrying a concealed weapon, theft, robbery, Drunk and driving matters etc.

Case References

Sunil Kumar Ghosh vs State Of West Bengal And Ors.: AIR 1970 Cal 384

The court held that old distinction between mala prohibita and mala in se has broken down because many acts which have been made punishable as an offence by statutes do not involve any moral turpitude:”In particular, nothing in the moral character of an act or omission can distinguish it from a civil wrong or make it a criminal offence. There are, for example, many breaches of statutory regulations and bye-laws which, because they are punishable in criminal proceedings, must be classed as criminal offences though they do not involve the slightest moral blame.

Buddha Pitai Vs. Sub-divisional Officer Malihabad and ors,AIR 1965 All. 382

The court held that the common law distinguished, between felony and misdemeanour or between crimes mala in se and mala prohibitas or between crimen falsi and infamous crimes. These classifications were objectionable and legislators drafting civil statutes that referred to criminal offences needed a classification less tenuous and employed the general term ‘crimes involving moral turpitude.’ It is not clear whether this established a new criterion or was merely a synthesis of previously recognized classifications.

Bachan Singh vs State Of Punjab,AIR 1980 SC 898, 1980 CriLJ 636

Court held that the common Law were classified as crimes mala in se as distinguished from crimes mala prohibita. Crimes mala in se embrace acts immoral or wrong in themselves, such as, murder, rape, arson, burglary, larceny (robbery and dacoity;) while crimes mala prohibita embrace things prohibited by statute as infringing on others’ rights, though no moral turpitude attaches to such crimes. Such acts constitute crimes only because they are so prohibited.

Edited by Sree Ramya

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

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Shivani Rani
I am Shivani Rani from Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University,Aligarh pursuing BALLB(Hons.). Criminal law and personal laws of country attracts me the most. I like to read books mostly based on fictin and also like to watch suspense & thriller movies as well as crime thriller web series, in free time. I love to take part in moot court competitions as well as research study work. I am enthusiastic about exploring new places and listening music. I am kind of ambivert person i.e., not so introvert and not so extrovert.