Literal Meaning:-The law does nothing in vain.
Origin:-Lex nil frustra facit [Lat.], the law does nothing in vain. The law will not attempt to do or compel one to do, an act which would be vain.
Explanation:-LEX NIL FRUSTRA FACIT means When the law creates a duty or charge and the party is disabled to perform it, without there being any default on his part, and there is no remedy for him, the law will in general excuse him. The law regards the order and course of nature and will not force a man to demand that which he cannot recover. The law will not itself attempt to do an act which would be vain
Illustration:-if a charge is created on person and the person is not able to perform it, and there is no default on his side then one cannot recover the charges from such person.
In the case of Periyasami Kone vs V.P.R.M. Muthia Chettiar held that:-
“the mortgaged properties directed to be sold under the mortgage decree do not belong to the mortgagor, the mortgagee need not be compelled to resort to the farce of bringing them to sale and to undergo the useless delay involved in bringing them to sale, because it is an elementary principle of law that the Court will not do a vain thing, nor will it compel a man to do a fruitless thing”
However in the case of Mafatlal Apparel Mfg. Co. Ltd. vs Deputy Commissioner Of Income Tax on 30 September, 1997 it is observed that”Even under the Contract Act, dealing with private rights and obligations of a party to the agreement, the contract is deemed to be void on account of impossibility of performance (Section 56 of Contract Act)”
And in the case of M/S Central Bank vs I.T.O it is observed that This was a case where the assessee had not yet started earning income and, therefore, the Tribunal held, how can the law expect him to estimate the advance tax liability and pay tax and consequently levy of interest for failure to do so ?
In the case of M/S Central Bank vs I.T.O 121ITD1 (Nagpur) at Para 68 & 69 it was observed as follows. It is a well-settled law that law does not compel a man to do that which he cannot possibly perform as held by the Supreme Court in the case of OnkarmalNathmal Trust (supra).
Where the law creates a duty or charge, and the party is disabled to perform it, without any default in him, and has no remedy over, there the law will in general excuse him, and though impossibility of performance is in general no excuse for not performing an obligation with a party has expressly undertaken by contract, yet when the obligation is one implied by law, impossibility of performance is a good excuse
Assistant Commissioner Of Income Tax Authority vs Jindal Irrigation Systems Ltd. on 22 August 1995
Periyasami Kone vs V.P.R.M. MuthiaChettiar on 17 November 1913
Mafatlal Apparel Mfg. Co. Ltd. vs Deputy Commissioner Of Income Tax on 30 September 1997
Air I Ltd., vs Assessee Income Tax Officer vs Life Insurance Corporation Of India on 31 July 2000