The word ‘Person’ is derived from the Latin word ‘persona’ and the term is used in the sense of a being that is capable of sustaining rights and duties. Persons are the substances of which rights and duties are the attributes. A person is not necessarily a human being. There may be human beings who are not persons, and in the same way, there may be persons who are not human beings. Slaves are human beings but not persons in the legal sense as they cannot have rights. On the other hand a company or corporation is not human being but a person in the legal sense as they have rights.
According to Prof. Salmond, ‘A person is any being whom the law regards as capable of rights or duties. Any being that is so capable is a person, whether a human being or not and no being that is not so capable is a person, even though he be a man.’
According to Prof. Gray, ‘A person is an entity to which rights and duties are the attribute
Features of Person
- Every person has his/its separate identity by the name.
- He/it is an entity which rights and duties are the attributes.
- He/it can possess, hold and dispose property by own name.
- He/it may be sue or to be sued by own name
Classification of Person
1. Natural Person:
Generally, Natural Persons are living human beings recognized as person by the law. All human beings are not persons. There may be human beings who are not persons. For instance slaves are human beings but not persons in the legal sense as they cannot have rights.
According to Prof. Holland, ‘A Natural Person is such a human being as he regarded by the law as capable of rights and duties; in the language of Roman law as having a status.’
According to M. H. Qureshi, ‘Natural Persons are persons in fact as well as in law. They are living human being. It is they whom the law regards as capable of rights and duties.’
1. Legal Person:
Generally, Legal Persons is not living human being but recognized as person by the law. Legal Persons are also known as Artificial Person, Juristic Person or Fictitious Person. For instance a company or corporation is not human being but a person in the legal sense as they have rights.
According to Prof. Holland, ‘Legal Persons are those things upon whom the law conferred a legal status and who are in the eye of law capable of having rights and duties as natural persons.’
According to M. H. Qureshi, ‘Legal Person is any subject-matter to whom law attributes a legal personality.’
According to Prof. Salmond, ‘Legal Person is any subject-matter or beings, real or imaginary other than a human being to which the law attributes personality by way of fiction.’
Legal Person may be three kinds – a) Corporation, b) Trade Union and c) Friendly Society
A Corporation is a Legal Person constituter by the personification of a group or a series of individuals. The individuals forming the corpus of the corporation are called its members. A corporation is either a Corporation Aggregate or a Corporation Sole.
i) Corporation Aggregate:
A Corporation Aggregate is a collection of individuals united into one body, under a special denomination.
ii) Corporation Sole:
Corporation Sole is an incorporated series of successive persons. It is a corporation which has one member at a time. It is also an instance of Double Personality where a single human being may hold two capacities to possess legal rights at the same time. He is one but two person.
- Trade Union:
Trade Union is a legal person constitute by a group of workers to preserve their interest.
- Friendly Society:
Friendly Society is a legal person constitute by a group of individuals to serve society.
Legal status of Lower Animals as Legal Person
Only the human beings are legal person as natural person and lower animals are not person, either natural or legal. They are merely things. They are often the objectives of legal rights and duties but never the subjects of them. Like man, they are capable of acts but their acts are neither lawful nor wrongful. A lower animal is as incapable of legal rights as of legal duties. Its interests are not recognized by law. No animal can be the owner of any property, even through the medium of human trustee.
However, there are some cases in which lower animal may be thought to possess legal rights. These are
- Cruelty to animals is a criminal offence
- Winter guest birds and their interests are preserved by special law
- A trust may be done for the benefit of particular classes of animals.
Although lower animal sometime hold some rights but finally it is not treated as person.
Legal status of Dead Man as Legal Person
The personality of a human being commences its existence on birth and ceases to exist at death. Dead men are no longer persons in the eye of law. They have laid down their legal personality with their lives and they are destitute of rights and liabilities. They have no rights because they have no interests.
There are three things in respect of which the anxieties of living man extend even after their death. These are –
- Right to Funeral formalities of his dead body according to his religion.
- Right to use of his reputation.
- Right to transfer property under his Will
Although Dead man sometime hold some rights but finally he is not treated as person.
Legal status of Unborn child as Legal Person
Though the dead man possesses no personality, the case is otherwise with the unborn Child. There is nothing in law to prevent a man from owing property before he is born. Actually his ownership is contingent. It only comes vested after his born.
There are many cases in which Unborn Child may possess legal rights. These are –
- According to section 13 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 any person may transfer his any property by gift or will to any unborn child by creating life-title upon two living persons.
- In the time of the death of his father, a child in the womb of his mother is entitled to get his part according to his law of succession.
- Hindu Law permit gift and will to any unborn child.
- There are many maternity laws for the welfare of mother and unborn child.
- If a child dies after born with life, and if the reason of his death was the any torture to his mother, it is treated as offence as murder.
Finally Unborn Child is treated as person, but it is limited and contingent in nature.