The section requires commission of mischief by the accused by doing any act which causes, or which he knows to be likely to cause a diminution of the supply of water. Such water must be for the purpose of agriculture or for food or drink either for human beings or for animals which are property, or for cleanliness or for carrying on any manufacture. Whereas this section deals with diminution of water supply, section 277 deals with fouling of water of public spring or reservoir.
Where the accused cut a bandh belonging to the complainant with a view to save his own crop which was likely to be destroyed otherwise, even then the accused would be guilty under this section. But where a landlord had agreed to pump water for the use of his tenants who were willing to pay extra, but suddenly stopped doing so was not held guilty under this section as it was a case of breach of contract.
A bona fide belief that one is entitled to do something by way of right negatives liability under this section because in mischief a requisite intention or knowledge is needed to be proved. Thus, where the accused cut open a bandh and diverted water into his fields in anticipation of the usual permission to do so, no offence under this section was held to be committed.
The offence under this section is cognizable, bailable and compoundable by the person to whom loss or damage is caused when permitted by the court trying the case, and is triable by magistrate of the first class.