Malitia supplet aetatem

Malitia supplet aetatem

Literal Meaning

Malice supplies age.


This maxim means malice supplies want of age. The presumption of innocence of a child is based on the principle that ‘the younger the child in age, the lesser the probability of being corrupt’. This is to say, malice makes up for age, i.e., Malitia supplet aetatem.




If a child aged nine years picks up a necklace valued at rs. 100 lying on a table on a table in his friend’s house and immediately sells it for rs. 20 and misappropriates the money, these acts show that he was sufficiently mature to understand the nature and consequence of his deed of theft. Hence, he would not be protected. 

Case References

Hiralal Mallick v. State of Bihar, AIR 1977 SC 2236

In this case, the supreme court held that a child below 7 years is completely free of any criminal responsibility but a child between 7 to 12 years of age is qualified to avail the defence of doli incapax, if it is proved that he is not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature and consequences of his act. This presumption may be rebutted by evidence of “mischievous discretion, i.e., knowledge that what was done was morally wrong”.

Ullu v. King, AIR 1950 Ori. 261

In this case, the accused,  a girl about 10 years old was scolded by her father-in-law and her husband who attempted to beat her. A few days after the incident, she struck her husband on his neck with sharp instrument while he was asleep, which resulted in his death. After the assault she ran away and concealed herself.  Judging from her conduct before and after the incident the court concluded that she was doli capax i.e., capable of understanding the nature of the act and so was held guilty of murder. However, the court remanded her for a reprieve of sentence instead of seven years considering her age.

Marimuthu case, (1990) 9 Cr Lj 392 (Mad.)

In this case, there was a girl aged 10 years who picked up a silver button and gave it to her mother was not held liable for theft. It was held that these factors were not sufficient to show maturity on her part to understand the nature of her act. Hence, this is not the case of Malitia supplet aetatem.

Edited by Sree Ramya

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

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.