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Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation

A PROJECT ON

RIGHT OF PRIVATE DEFENCE TO BODY AND PROPERTY

SUBJECT:CRIMINAL LAW I

CHANAKYA NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, PATNA

SUBMITTED TO:

FR. PETER LADIS
S UBMITTED BY:

ARUNABH SHARMA
ROLL NO. – 725 , 3RD SEM

1

Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I feel myself highly delighted, as it gives me incredible pleasure to present a
research paper on “RIGHT

OF PRIVATE DEFENCE TO BODY AND PROPERTY”.

I would like to enlighten my readers regarding this topic and I hope I have
tried my best to pave the way for bringing more luminosity to this topic.

I am grateful to my faculty “FR. PETER LADIS” who has given me an idea
and encourage me to venture this project. I would like to thank librarian of
CNLU for their interest in providing me a good back up material

At

finally

yet

importantly

I

would

INCOMMENSURABLE support.

2

like

to

thank

my

parents

for

MODE OF CITATION: The researcher has followed a uniform mode of citation throughout the course of this research paper. 3 . SOURCES OF DATA: The following secondary sources of data have been used in the project1 Articles 2 Books 3 Websites METHOD OF WRITING: The method of writing followed in the course of this research paper is primarily analytical. METHOD OF RESARCH: The research work of this project is based on doctrinal method.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The aim of the project is to present a detailed study of “RIGHT OF PRIVATE DEFENCE : JUDICIAL INTERPRETATION” in relation to CRIMINAL LAW I . SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS: Though this is an immense project and pages can be written over the topic but because of certain restrictions and limitations I was not able to deal with the topic in great detail.

4 EXTENT OF RIGHT TO PRIVATE DEFENCE TOWARDS BODY Pg. 3 PRIVATE DEFENCE AGAINST DEADLY ASSAULT WHEN THERE IS RISK OF HARM TO INNOCENT PERSON----------------------Pg. 1014. 7 CONCLUSION----------------------------------------------------Pg. 18-21.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENT RESEARCH METHODOLOGY CHAPTERS: 1 INTRODUCTION---------------------------------------------------Pg. 22-23. 8-9. 9. 5-7. 14-17. 2 PRIVATE DEFENCE OF BODY AND OF PROPERTY--------Pg. 4 . 5 EXTENT OF RIGHT TO PRIVATE DEFENCE TOWARDS PROPERTY ---------------------------------------------------------------------Pg. 6 EXCEPTION TO RIGHT OF PRIVATE DEFENCE-----------Pg.

Situations often arise when the ready help of the State is not available and to meet such exigencies. The right of self-defence is a very valuable right with a social purpose. the Supreme Court said: ''The right of private defence is codified in Sections 96 to 106. With this background the provisions of Sections 96106. it encourages its citizens to protect themselves when attacked. He would be justified in resisting an attack by using such degree of force as is necessary and also to prevent its repetition. By enacting these sections in the Code the authors wanted to except from the operation of 5 . The fascicle of Sections 96 to 106 codify the entire law relating to right of private defence of person and property including the extent of and limitation to exercise of such right. however. Section 96 to 106 codifies the entire law relating to private defence of person and property including the extent of and limitation to exercise such right. are to be construed. State of M. Commenting on the right of private defence in Munney Khan v. The other consideration is that though it is the duty of the State to protect its people. The right is.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation APPENDICES: BIBLIOGRAPHY INTRODUCTION Right of Private Defence is the only right conferred to the people under the Indian Penal Code. IPC. the law has given the right of private defence to every individual. preventive and not punitive. which have all to be read together in order to have a proper grasp of the scope and the limitations of this right. It is a right inherent in man and is based on the premise that the foremost duty of man is to protect him. dealing with the right of private defence. There is nothing more degrading to the human spirit than to run away in face of danger. The law relating to private defence is dealt with in the Penal Code in Sections 96 to 106. The right is designed to serve a social purpose and deserves to be fostered within the prescribed limits. since it cannot possibly post a policeman at every corner. civilized and democratic society. yet.The law does not require a law-abiding citizen to behave like a coward when confronted with an imminent unlawful aggression.P. 1860. The right of private defence is now recognised in every free.

If the circumstances show 1 AIR 2007 SC 2524. 6 . State of West Bengal. a person legitimately acted in the exercise of right of private defence is a question of fact to be determined on the fact and circumstances of each case. In a case when two parties are having a free fight without disclosing as to who is the initial aggressor it may be dangerous as a general rule to clothe either of them or his sympathiser with a right of private defence. Whether in a particular set of circumstances. State of Rajasthan. on one or the other.2 the apex Court held that in determining this question of fact. classes of acts done in good faith for the purpose of repelling unlawful aggression. According to Section 97 this right vests even in strangers for the defence of the body and property of other persons against offences mentioned therein. aggressive or retributive purpose. There is also no right of private defence in cases where there is time to have recourse to the protection of public authorities. It is not necessary for the accused to plead in so many words that he acted in self-defence. It should not be allowed to be pleaded or availed of as a pretext for a vindictive. the Court must consider all the surrounding circumstances. No test in the abstract for determining such a question can be laid down.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation its penal clauses. 2 2003 SCC (Cri) 16." In Ananta Deb Singha Mahapatra v. The right of private defence is essentially a defensive right circumscribed by the statute available only when the circumstances clearly justify it. where an act is done in exercise of the right of private defence such act cannot give rise to any right of private defence in favour of the aggressor in return. This right is available against an offence and therefore. If there is no initial right of private defence then there can hardly be any question of exceeding that right. The Courts have therefore to be careful in seeing that no one on the mere pretext of the exercise of the right of private defence takes side in a quarrel between two or more persons and inflicts injuries. This would seem to be so even if the person exercising the right of private defence has the better of his aggressor provided of course he does not exceed his right because the moment he exceeds it he commits an offence. If however one of them is shown to be committing an offence affecting human body then that would of course seem to give rise to such a right. 1 it was held that section 96 does not define the expression “right of private defence”. In Sekar v. It merely indicates that nothing is an offence which is done in the exercise of such right.

As stated in Mahandi v. contemplates that if a man is attacked he would be justified in the eye of law if he holds his ground and delivers a counter-attack provided always that the injury which he inflicts in self-defence is not out of all proportion to the injury with which he was threatened. State. it is open to the Court to consider such a plea. There is no right of private defence under this code against an act which is not in itself an offence under it. however lawabiding he may be. the Court can consider it even if the accused has not taken it. This right of private defence is based on the cardinal principal of self-help. in no case more harm than is necessary to inflict in defence is permissible. In Rahmat Ali v. if the same is available to be considered from the material on record. 5 Chandra Bhan v. 338. AIR 1954 All 39. the right of self-defence as defined in Secs. L.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation that the right of private defence was legitimately excercised. Emperor.5 In Yogendra Morarji v. The vigilance of law enforcing agency can never make up for the vigilance of each individual on his own behalf. to behave like a rank coward on any occasion. it is co-terminus with the duration of such apprehension. (d) The right extends to killing of the actual or potential assailant when there is a reasonable and imminent apprehension of the crimes enumerated in the six clauses of section 100 of the Indian Penal Code. State of Gujarat. Although the offence may not have been committed. In a given case. 3 51 Cr.6 the apex Court laid down the principles as to right of private defence of body.4 the Court held that. 654 (Lah). 4 AIR 1953 All. 7 . They are as follows:(a) There is no right of private defence against an act which is not in itself an offence under the code. State.J.3 the law does not require a citizen. 6 AIR 1980 SC 660. (c) It is defensive and not a punitive or retributive right. Therefore. (b) The right commences as soon as a reasonable apprehension of danger to the body arises from an attempt or threat to commit some offence. 96 and 97 of the Indian Penal Code.

7 the Court held that. 9 it was held that apart from the fact that the appellant neither took up either a plea of private defence or of a mistake of fact or of 7 AIR 1974 SC 1570. Emperor. Ram Swarup. and the second part dealing with the right of private defence of property. “mischief”.8 the use of the words “offences affecting the human body” both in Sec. In Ram Saiya v. In Gurbachan Singh v. 299 to Sec. when the accused himself goes with a gun to attack the victim and the victim in self-defence re-attacks the accused. 377 is contemplated to be committed against the person who seeks to exercise that right. PRIVATE DEFENCE OF THE BODY AND OF PROPERTY Section 97 proceeds to divide the right of private defence into two parts: the first part dealing with the right of private defence of person. the accused cannot plead right of self defence.P. v. and in the beginning of Chapter XVI of the Indian Penal Code makes it clear that the right of private defence of person arises in favour of a person in cases when any of the offences mentioned in Secs. 205. 8 AIR 1948 All. or “criminal trespass” or an attempt to commit any of these. The right of private defence of property covers cases of acts which are offences falling under the definition of “theft”. 97. “robbery”. This section recognises right of a person not only to defend his own or another’s body but to defend his own or another’s property even against an attempt to inflict any offensive act against the property. State of Haryana. by killing the victim. which gives the right of private defence. The right of private defence of person extends to acts which amounts to an offence affecting the body of the person exercising the right or the body of any other person. The right of private defence only arises against acts which constitute an offence except in certain specified circumstances. 8 .Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation In State of U.

10 1994 SCC (Cri) 1473. State of Punjab. mischief or criminal trespass.11 the Court held that a true owner has every right to dispossess or throw away a trespasser. PRIVATE DEFENCE AGAINST DEADLY ASSAULT WHEN THERE IS RISK OF HARM TO INNOCENT PERSON. robbery. 11 AIR 1977 SC 619. In Ram Rattan v.10 the apex Court said. the defender. But this right is not available to the true owner if the trespasser has been successful in accomplishing his possession to the knowledge of the true owner. can take the risk of harm to an innocent person if the right cannot be effectually exercised without taking such a risk. 9 AIR 1975 SC 496. Section 106 of the Penal Code provides that if there is reasonable apprehension of death. It is a case of extreme necessity. under section 97 every person has the right subject to the restriction contained in section 99 to defend his properties against any attack which is an offence falling under the definition of theft. he had no justification whatsoever for thrusting his spear into deceased’s chest. while the trespasser is in the act or process of trespassing and has not accomplished his act of possession.P. in which a person is entitled to run the risk of harming innocent persons in order to save himself from mortal injury.. 9 . In Bhagwan Singh v. State of U. This right is not available to an aggressor.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation accident. no right of private defence can exist against an unarmed and unoffending individual who was trying to get up. while exercising his right of private defence. Even if the deceased had managed to get up and was standing at the time when the fatal injury was inflicted upon him there being no suggestion. even in the course of cross-examination of witnesses. to indicate that he lifted his little finger against the appellant.

12 the Court said that where there is nothing in the evidence to indicate that any one of the group of people which was following the respondent was armed with any deadly weapon it cannot be said that there was reasonable apprehension of death. provides when the right of private defence of the body extends to causing death: (a) If the assault reasonably causes the apprehension that death or grievous hurt will otherwise be the consequence. 12 (1976) 25 Jab. 10 . there was no occasion for the deceased to exercise his right in the manner in which it would harm the deceased. (b) The assault is made with the intention of committing rape or gratifying unnatural lust or with the intention of kidnapping or abducting. (c) The assault is made with the intention of wrongfully confining the person with the apprehension that he will be unable to have recourse to public authorities for his release. State of Madhya Pradesh. LJ 351. EXTENT OF RIGHT TO PRIVATE DEFENCE TOWARDS BODY (1) EXTENDING TO CAUSE DEATH Section 100 IPC. Therefore.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation In Ishak v.

11 . there is no longer the right of private defence. In Paramananda Mahakud v. 15 AIR 1960 SC 67. “kidnapping”. the right of private defence of body extends to causing of death if there is reasonable apprehension that grievous hurt would be the consequence of the assault.R. State of Madhya Pradesh. 16 the Court held that the right of private defence of person. 16 2002 (4) All India Cr. This necessarily postulates that as soon as the cause for the reasonable apprehension has disappeared and the threat has either been destroyed or has been put to rout. 100 of the Indian Penal Code the section provides that the right extends even to the causing of death. It entitles him to defend himself and law gives him the right to secure his victory over his assailant by using the necessary force. and if the assault of an aggravated nature. there can be no occasion to exercise the right of private defence. “wrongfully confining” : but this does not mean that the intention with which the assault is committed must always be an offence in itself while in other clauses the words used to describe the intention do not themselves amount to an offence under the Indian Penal Code. the right is there. could extend to the causing of death also. If the danger is continuing. where there is real apprehension that the aggressor might cause death or grievous hurt to the victim. if the danger or the apprehension about it has ceased to exist. State of Punjab. 14 AIR 1963 SC 612. 14 the apex Court held that the law of private defence does not require that the person assaulted or facing an apprehension of an assault must run away for safety. In Vishwanath v.. and it is not necessary 13 (1970) 2 Cr.15 the apex Court said the right of private defence arises against the human body. In Jai Dev v. State of U. as enumerated in Sec. In Bhagwan Singh v.L. “rape”.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation This right under Section 100 will be subject to the restrictions under Section 99.13 the Court said. 548. assault. L.P. In describing the nature of the assault some clauses use words which themselves denote offences such as “grievous hurt”.J. namely. Under Sec. State. 931. In determining whether there was an apprehension of death or grievous hurt. 100 of the Indian Penal Code. the nature of assault and the type of weapons used would be considered.

19 1996 Cr. it is obvious that if an accused with an intention to kill his victim fires a shot at him which misses the target and hits any other innocent person fatally he would remain guilty of an offence of murder but if the accused had no such intention and was protected by right of private defence under the situation and circumstances in which it could extend to even causing death of assailant as laid down by Sec. 18 1992 East. On the objection of accused instead of refraining himself to do so. Accused as more than 60 years old while the deceased was about 35 years old. State of Punjab. The reasonable apprehension of the accused that grievous hurt will be caused to him must be judged from the subjective point of view of the accused and cannot be subjected to microscopic and pedantic scrutiny. In Gurdeo Singh v. Whether in fact the injuries actually caused were simple or grievous is of no consequence.19 the deceased’s water course was leading to the field of accused.J.18 the Supreme Court held that a person said facing with imminent threat of being assaulted is not expected to weigh in ‘golden scales’ the exact force require to repeal the danger. 12 . then accused was right to grapple with him in order to dis-arm the deceased.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation that death or grievous hurt should actually be caused before the right could be exercised. 1270.L. A mere reasonable apprehension is enough to put the right of private defence into operation. 100 of the Indian Penal Code. In Wassan Singh v.) 119. It was held that accused has not exceeded his right of private defence in causing injuries to the deceased. A lathi is capable of causing a simple as well as a fatal injury.17 the Supreme Court observed. It is the scenario of a father being given lathi blows which has to be kept in mind and in such a situation a son could reasonably apprehend danger to the life of his father and his firing a gun-shot at that point of time in defence of his father is justified. The question whether a person having a right of private defence has used more force than is necessary. 17 1996 SCC (Cr. State of Rajasthan. would depend on the facts and circumstances of a particular case. State of Madhya Pradesh.C. 100 of the Indian Penal Code and if in exercise of that right of private defence the blow fatally falls on an innocent person the action would still remain protected under Sec. deceased gave a Kassia blow to the accused from his sharp side on his head causing incise wound to bone deep. In Bhagwan Swaroop v. Cr. 457 (SC).

there is in any case.T. Under Sec. It also provides that if the offence be not of any of the descriptions mentioned in Sec. 101 of the Indian Penal Code. State. is subject to two limitations. no further apprehension of assault. to the extent of causing grievous hurt. but not death. 22 the apex Court observed. his state of mind at the time of the killing becomes material. as against any assault other than the firstly and secondly of Sec. the right of private defence of body does not extend to the voluntary causing to the assailant of any harm other than death. This right. 530. 100 of the Indian Penal Code.21 Where. the right of private defence is limited to causing of any harm other than death. State. If. and the other is that the use of force does not exceed the minimum required to save the person in whose defence the force is used. a defendant charged with murder asserts that he killed in self-defence. a person is entitled to exercise his right of private defence of the body. after the commission of an assault of a simple or grievous nature. One is that. 100. in exercise of this right of private defence. In Charungu Boipari v. L. 101 of the Indian Penal Code. is subject to the exceptions that will be dealt with under Section 99.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation (2) EXTENDING TO CAUSING HARM OTHER THAN DEATH Section 101 of the Penal Code provides that in the absence of the circumstances laid down in Section 100. Under 101. 22 AIR 1971 SC 1491. 21 AIR 1952 Orissa 37. In Munney Khan v. and an important element in determining his justification or his belief in an impending attack by the deceased. A right of private defence governed by Sec. (3) COMMENCEMENT AND CONTINUANCE OF THE RIGHT TOWARDS THE BODY 20 (1996) 32 Cut. if the offence which occasions the exercise of the right be not one of those enumerated in Sec. 100. every person has a right to defend his own body and the body of any other person against the offence affecting human body.20 the Court said. State of Madhya Pradesh. 13 . therefore. In Khetri Bewa v. occasion for the exercise of the right of private defence of the body should not arise. again. any kind of hurt can be caused.

It was held that there was no justification for killing the deceased selectively. The right to punish for the commission of offences vests in the State and not in private individuals.. 102 of the India Penal Code. the right of private defence of the body commences only on a reasonable apprehension of danger to the body caused by an attempt or threat to commit an offence. In State of Uttar Pradesh v. If after sustaining a serious injury there is no apprehension of further danger to the body then obviously the right of private defence would not be available. Ram Swarup. reasonable ground for apprehension of danger to body is an essential requisite for exercise of the right of private defence of person.W. 25 AIR 1974 SC 1570.”defence commences as soon as reasonable apprehension of danger to body arises and lasts so long as such reasonable apprehension continues. The right of defence ends with the necessity for it. and it continues so long as such apprehension of danger to the body continues. Under Sec. 14 .P.24 the Supreme Court said. Jung Singh.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation Section 102 of the Penal Code provides :“The right of private defence of the body commences as soon as a reasonable apprehension of danger to the body arises from an attempt or threat to commit the offence though the offence may not have been committed.23 the Court said. It is a preventive and not a punitive right. There must be an attempt or threat and consequent thereon an apprehension of danger.” In State v. 301.L. 24 AIR 1973 SC 473. the right of private defence of the body commences as soon as a reasonable apprehension of danger to the body arise and it continues as long as such apprehension of danger continues. State of U. the right of private defence is available for protection against apprehended unlawful aggression and not for punishing the aggressor for the offence committed by him. Thus. In Deo Narain v. EXTENT OF RIGHT OF PRIVATE DEFENCE TOWARDS PROPERTY 23 1969 R.25 the presence of blood near the door shows that the accused fired at the deceased when the latter was fleeing in fear of his life.

which is begun by such house-breaking. In case of robbery. (b) In case of robbery. the right continues so long as the offender continues in the commission of the criminal trespass or mischief.e. the right of private defence of property is combined with the right of private defence of the body and continues so long as the fear of imminent danger continues. when house trespass is affected by entering into any part of the house after house-breaking between dusk to dawn. i. continues. or of instant personal restraint continues. State of Tamil Nadu.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation (1) EXTENDS TO CAUSING DEATH Section 105 provide for the commencement and continuance of the right of private defence of property: (a) In case of theft. House-breaking by night is covered by Section 103 and extends to causing death. Under Sec. the right of private defence of property extends. the right continues as long as the offender causes or attempts to cause to any person death or hurt or wrongful restraint or as long as the fear of instant death or of instant hurt. (c) In case of criminal trespass or mischief. when such theft or mischief is committed in such circumstances as may reasonably cause an apprehension that death or grievous hurt will be the consequences if such right of private defence is not exercised. (d) In case of house-breaking by night. Recapture after interval of time. 15 . it is well-settled that once it is held that the accused had the right of private defence and reasonably apprehended that death or grievous bodily hurt would be the consequence if the right of private defence was 26 AIR 2002 SC 2980. This section recognises the right of a person to kill a person committing offences attended with force or surprise. cannot be deemed to be an exercise of the right of private defence of property. the right continues so long as the house trespass. the right of private defence continues till the offender has affected his retreat with the property or either the assistance of the public authority is obtained or the property has been recovered. 103 of the Indian Penal Code. however justifiable. to the voluntary causing of death in case of theft or mischief. In Subramani v.26 the apex Court said. The recapture of the stolen or plundered property is permissible if the taking and retaking is one transaction.

(2) EXTENDS TO CAUSING ANY HARM OTHER THAN DEATH Section 104 talks about the extension of right of private defence of property to causing any harm other than death. 29 AIR 1957 All 714.27 the apex Court said. When accosted they wanted to forcibly commit the offence of theft and mischief and when the accused persons wanted to exercise their right. This section is enacted to legalize te infliction of any harm short of 27 AIR 2002 SC 520. Theft and mischief were either being committed or threatened to be committed. the right of private defence of body and property was available to the aaccused persons and in the circumstances indicated and on the findings recorded. the right of private defence of property extended under this section to voluntarily causing the death of the aggressor. In the facts of this case.28 the paddy crop was ripe and ready for harvesting and it had been grown by the accused persons. The two deceased persons and their men had trespassed into the property and were about to harvest the paddy. the extended right to cause even death is conferred in the case of house-trespass only when it is committed in circumstances which may reasonably cause an apprehension that death or grievous hurt will result if such right of private defence is not exercised. In State v. 28 AIR 1986 SC 305. grievous blows were given.29 the Court said. 16 . this right extended causing of death. Only a house-trespass committed under such circumstances as may reasonably cause apprehension that death or grievous hurt would be the consequences is enumerated as one of the offences under section 103. In Jassa Singh v. State of Haryana. if the act of trespass is in respect of an open land. the right of private defence of property will not extend to the causing of death of the person who has committed such acts. In Abdul Kadir v.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation not exercised. Badri. State of Assam.

It is not a right of retaliation and hence he need not wait until the aggressor has started committing the offence which occasions.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation death in all cases in which the offence of theft. 30 AIR 1996 SC 1998. mischief or criminal trespass. 81.30 the Court was of the opinion that section 104 contains the bridle that right of private defence shall not cross the limit of first degree as against acts which would remain as theft. etc. mischief or criminal trespass are not aggravated in the manner described in the clause fourthly of section 103 being attended with an attempt to cause death or grievous hurt. 32 AIR 1973 SC 665.C. which he had planted in his field. (3) COMMENCEMENT AND CONTINUANCE OF THE RIGHT The right of private defence of property commences with the reasonable apprehension of danger to such property. It is also lawful for such person if the opposite party is armed. State of Rajasthan. their right is limited to the causing of any harm other than death. the exercise of his right of private defence. In Nathan v. The person entitled to exercise that right can act before actual harm is done.32 the Court held that if it does not appear that the harvesting party is armed with any deadly weapons and there cannot be any fear of death or grievous hurt on the part of the party of the accused under Sec. State of Bihar. 17 . In defending his property he can under Sec. In Francis Alfred v. State of Madras. to go to the spot and object. a person had every right to defend his property and to stop the accused for uprooting the reeds. It is lawful for a person who has seen an invasion of his right. 104 of the Indian Penal Code cause any harm short of death. to take suitable weapons for his defence. In Mahabir Chaudhary v. 31 1980 Cr.31 the Court held that. 104 of the Indian Penal Code.

11. In the case of State v. The deceased was beaten by the accused with sticks. v. 33 AIR 1959 All 233. 18 .35 the Court said that by no stretch of argument can it be said that any accused has any right of private defence against a person who is running away from the scene of occurrence.J. Shaligram. The recovery which Sec. Sidhnath Rai. The assault on him will be wholly unjustified. It was held that it could not be said that after the deceased fell down. 36 AIR 1956 Sau.36 the deceased entered the house with the intention of outraging the modesty of the wife of the accused and did something to manifest that intention. In Amar Singh v.33 the Allahabad High Court held that hen the offence has been committed and the property removed. the primary object of this provision of the law appears to be that the owner of the stolen property may not be deprived of it when the same may be recovered by the owner by using force against the thief but this right of using force is subject to the three conditions. cannot be deemed an exercise of the right of defence of property. 34 AIR 1968 Raj. 77. Bhima Deoraj. The accused continued to beat the deceased after he had fallen down. 34 the Court said. however. the accused’s right of right of private defence came to an end. In State of M. a recapture after an interval of time by the owner or the person on his behalf. justifiable.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation In State v.P. State of Rajasthan. 105 of the Indian Penal Code contemplates seems to be a recovery either immediate or made before the offender has reached his retreat. 35 1971 Jab L. 292.

There is no right of private defence in cases in which there is time to have recourse to the protection of the public authorities.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation EXCEPTIONS TO RIGHT OF PRIVATE DEFENCE Exceptions on the exercise of the right of private defence are contained in Section 99 of the Penal Code. though the act may not be strictly justifiable by law.A person is not deprived of the right of private defence against an act done or attempted to be done. that the person doing the act is acting by such direction. From the above description it can be seen that it refers to acts of a public servant done on their own authority and acts done under the authority or direction of superior public official. Section 99 says :''There is no right of private defence against an act which does not reasonably cause the apprehension of death or of grievous hurt. . or unless such person states the authority under which he acts. unless he knows or has reason to believe. if done. by the direction of a public servant unless he knows. if demanded." Explanation I. The right of private defence in no case extends to the inflicting of more harm than it is necessary to inflict for the purpose of defence. or has reason to believe. that the person doing the act is such public servant. or if he has authority in writing unless he produces such authority. or attempted to be done by a public servant acting in good faith under the colour of his office. Explanation II. If read with the explanation it becomes clear that the person is deprived of the right of private defence against a public servant if19 . There is no right of private defence against an act which does not reasonably cause the apprehension of death or of grievous hurt. or attempted to be done. – A person is not deprived of the right of private defence against act done. by a public servant as such. or attempted to be done by the direction of a public servant acting in good faith under colour of his office though that direction may not be strictly justifiable by law. if done.

Section 99 did confer a discretion upon the employees of the Corporation who acted in good faith under the colour of their office. the law says he must not use force in such a 37 AIR 1974 SC 1158. In Kesho Ram v. The right of self-defence can. the right of private defence will not be available. however. “The right of self-help. 20 .Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation (a) the act is done in good faith. according to para 3 of Section 99 is that if there is time to have recourse to the protection of public authorities. the use of force is made punishable by the Indian Penal Code. even if sadly. Delhi Admn. or (ii) when the public servant does not act in good faith. or (iii) when the person exercising the right does not know or have reason to believe that the aggressor is a public servant or one acting under the authority or direction of a public servant. in the exercise of their powers. when it causes or is likely to cause damage to the person or property of another person must be restricted and recourse to public authorities must be insisted upon. when he could. No matter what the intention of that person may be. In these circumstances. for the protection of such property. The appellant contended that the recovery of• tax was illegal and requirements of notice of demand being absent he had a right of private defence. It was held that the Inspectors were acting honestly in exercise of the powers delegated to them and their attempt to recover the tax due by seizure of the animal was not entirely outside the law. and (c) there were reasonable grounds to establish the identity or authority of the public servant or any person acting under the authority or direction of a public servant. (b) the act was done under the colour of office. The first.. easily have recourse to the public authorities. He struck one of the officials on the nose with the result that it bled and was also fractured. be exercised(i) When the public servant reasonably causes apprehension of grievous hurt.37 the appellant obstructed the Inspectors and Peon of Municipal Corporation when they went to seize the buffalo belonging to the appellant in the discharge of their duty to realise the milk tax from him. There are two more restrictions on the right of private defence. All that could be said is that they had erred. If a person prefers to use force in order to protect property. There is no rigid rule regarding the extent to which the right may be exercised and due allowance is to be made where the right is over exercised in the heat of the moment.

The shops of the appellant and his brother were in the same building and the mob looted the shop of the brother and were beating the doors of the appellant's shop with lathis. it would be inappropriate to adopt tests of detached objectivity which would be so natural in a Court room for instance. and calmly determine with a composed mind as to what precise kind and severity of blow would be legally sufficient for effectively meeting the unlawful aggression i. 39 AIR 1973 SC 473. That is why in some judicial decisions it has been observed that the means which a threatened person adopts or the force which he uses should not be weighed in golden scales. A person facing danger cannot be expected to consider whether there is or not sufficient time to seek such protection. It was held that : When a blow is aimed at a vulnerable part like the head even by a lathi which may prove instantaneously fatal. The question whether there was sufficient time for seeking protection from public authorities is determined on facts and often presents difficulty.” In the case of Amjad Khan v.e. his death. So in dealing with the question as to whether more force was used than was necessary or than was justified by the prevailing circumstances. In such moments of excitement or disturbed mental equilibrium it is somewhat difficult to expect parties facing grave aggression to coolly weigh as if in golden scales. In Deo Narain v. 21 . it cannot be laid down as a sound proposition of law that in such 38 AIR 1952 SC 165. The country will be deluged with blood if an offender who could get relief by recourse to law is allowed to take the law into his own hands. and cases are not unknown in which such a blow by a lathi has actually proved instantaneously fatal.38 a riot broke out between the Sindhi and Mohammedan inhabitants of a locality.39the accused in return for a lathi blow had given a dangerous blow with considerable force with a spear on the chest of his assailant which caused When a blow is aimed at a vulnerable part like the head even by a lathi which may prove instantaneously fatal.P. and cases are not unknown in which such a blow by a lathi has actually proved instantaneously fatal. State.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation case. The appellant had reasonable grounds for apprehending death or grievous hurt to himself or his family and since effective and timely help was not available. State of U.. long after the incident has taken place. it cannot be laid down as a sound proposition of law that in such cases the victim is not justified in using his spear in defending himself. the right of private defence had accrued to him.

The unarmed lady without attacking anybody had simply intervened in the melee to save her son. The right is essentially protective and it cannot be assessed as punitive. therefore. The other restriction laid down vide para 4 of Section 99 is that in no case more harm should be caused than is necessary. Shooting him at close range without warning would be covered by para 4 of Section 99. It is not. If the circumstances indicate that there was real apprehension to his body and life. Similarly. 22 .Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation cases the victim is not justified in using his spear in defending himself. if the deceased was unarmed and cutting crop under police protection. and calmly determine with a composed mind as to what precise kind and severity of blow would be legally sufficient for effectively meeting the unlawful aggression. it indicated his peaceful intention. It is entirely a question of fact in the circumstances of a case as to whether there has been excess of private defence within the meaning of the 4th clause of Section 99 of the IPC. The accused attacked and killed her and pleaded the right of self defence but court rejected his plea and upheld his conviction. In such moments of excitement or disturbed mental equilibrium it is somewhat difficult to expect parties facing grave aggression to coolly weigh as if in golden scales. justifiable to confine a man who was found ploughing his neighbour’s land. a person acting in a reasonable manner of self-defence cannot be said to exceed the right of private defence.

He is not entitled to claim any right of private defence in such situations. That is why it is not available to the aggressor who seeks an attack on him by his own aggressive attack. The free fight started at the spur of the moment and the accused pleaded that he joined the fight at a later stage in order to defend himself. then the accused is entitled to the benefits of this defence. Similarly neither party can claim the right in case of a free fight between two warring groups. it was held that the accused could not be denied the right of private defence nor could it be said that they exceeded the same. He can plead it even during the trial if he has not done so during the investigation. The accused is however. The burden of establishing the plea of private defence is on the accused and the burden can be discharged by showing preponderance of probabilities in favour of that plea on the basis of material on records. If there is material in evidence to indicate that in all probability the accused had used force in exercising the right of private defence. Where one person of accused party died but prosecution could not explain the injury on accused. The accused can inflict injuries or cause the death of the aggressor in 23 . The court ruled out his plea and held that he was not entitled to this right.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation CONCLUSION Right of private defence is thus preventive and neither punitive nor vindictive and also it should not be used maliciously. Courts are also required to take an overall view of the case and if a right of self-defence is made available from the evidence on record. then court can give the benefit of this right to him. not required to prove his case beyond all reasonable doubts. A person has a right of repelling an attack by use of such force as is necessary but he does not have the right to come prepared for a fight and then after attacking an unarmed victim claim the right of self-defence on being hit back by the victim or his associate. It is so because it is not possible to determine as to who is attacking and who is defending. The right can be used not only to defend his own person or property but that of others also. It is available in face of imminent dangers and can be used as a shield to protect a person and property within the prescribed limits. The burden of proving the defence is on the accused but if he fails to establish the same on a balance of probabilities yet totality of facts and circumstances are still in his favour.60 The accused can plead it at any stage. the right should not be construed narrowly as it has a social purpose. This right is available to the accused even if he does not plead it before the court.

No person can put live electric wire across the passage to latrine in order to prevent ingress of trespassers and if death of trespasser is caused due to electric shock. 24 . the accused cannot claim the right of private defence of property.Right Of Private Defence : Judicial Interpretation order to defend his own life.

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