Introduction : 

         Self help is the first rule of criminal law. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 has given the right of private defence of body and property to every Individual. Section 96 to 106 of Indian Penal Code states the law relating to the right of Private Defence of person and property.  
   
           It is primary duty of the State to protect life and property of citizens. But the fact is that State  cannot watch each and every activity of the citizens. There may be situations in which the State cannot help person immediately when his life or property is in danger.  In view of this Indian Penal Code has given the right of private defence of body and property of every individual.

 Right of Private Defence 

          In the words of Bentham, "The Right of Private Defence is absolutely necessary for the protection of ones life, liberty and property. "

           Section 96 to 106 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 states the law relating to the right of Private Defence of person and property. These provisions under the Indian Penal Code gives authority to a man to use necessary force against wrong doer for the purpose of protecting ones own body and property and also another's body and property when immediate aid from the state machinery is not readily available  and in so doing he is not answerable in law for his deeds.

The law of private defence is based on two main principles -

      (a) Everyone has right to defend his own body and property and anothers body and property.

     (b) The Right of Private Defence is not applicable in those cases where accused himself is an aggressive party.  

1) Things done in private defence (Section 96) :

         Nothing is an offence which is done in the exercise of the right of private defence.


2) Right of private defence of the body and of property (Section 97) : 

         Every person has a right, subject to the restrictions contained in Section 99, to defend -

     First -

            His own body, and the body of any other person, against any offence affecting the human body;

    Secondly -
 
              The property, whether movable or immovable, of himself or of any other person, against any act which is an offence falling under the definition of theft, robbery, mischief or criminal trespass, or which is an attempt to commit theft, robbery, mischief or criminal trespass.

             Section 97 of Indian Penal Code divides the right of private defence into two parts. first part deals with the right of private defence of person and second part with the right of private defence of property. The rights of defends is not only to the defence of own body or property but also extend to defending the body and property of any other person. Even a stranger can also defend the person or property of another person and vice versa.



3) Right of private defence against the act of a person of unsound mind, etc. (Section 98) :

              When an act which would otherwise be a certain offence, is not that offence, by reason of the youth, the want of maturity of understanding, the unsoundness of mind or the intoxication of the person doing that act, or by reason of any misconception on the part of that person, every person has the same right of private defence against that act which he would have if the act were that offence.

      Illustrations

                 (a) Z, under the influence of madness, attempts to kill A; Z is guilty of no offence. But A has the same right of private defence which he would have if Z were sane.

                  (b) A enters by night a house which he is legally entitled to enter. Z, in good faith, taking A for a house-breaker, attacks A. Here Z, by attacking A under this misconception, commits no offence. But A has the same right of private defence against Z, which he would have if Z were not acting under that misconception.

Scope : 

      Section 98 of Indian Penal Code assumes that the right to private defence from its very nature admits of no exception since it is the right of preservation of one's life and property as also another's life and property against the world at large. The right of defence of the body exists against all attackers, whether with or without mens rea.

   Right of private defence is available against -

  (i) Minor;

  (ii) Person of unsound Mind;

  (iii) Intoxicated Person

  (iv) Person  having no maturity of understanding

   (v) Person acting under misconception.


4) Acts against which there is no right of private defence (Section 99) : 

     There is no right of private defence against an act which does not reasonably cause the apprehension of death or of grievous hurt, if done, or attempted to be done, by a public servant acting in good faith under colour of his office, though that act may not be strictly justifiable by law.

   There is no right of private defence against an act which does not reasonably cause the apprehension of death or of grievous hurt, if done, 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.

 There is no right of private defence in cases in which there is time to have recourse to protection of the public authorities.

Extent to which the right may be exercised -

       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.

Explanation 1 -

         A person is not deprived of the right of private defence against an act done, or attempted to be done, by a public servant, as such, unless he knows or has reason to believe, that the person doing the act is such public servant.



Explanation 2 -

         A person is not deprived of the right of private defence against an act done, or attempted to be done, by the direction of a public servant, unless he knows, or has reason to believe, that the person doing the act is acting by such direction, or unless such person states the authority under which he acts, or if he has authority in writing, unless he produces such authority, if demanded.

According to Section 99 of Indian Penal Code there is no right of Private defence -

i) against the acts of a public servant acting in good faith and;

ii) against the acts of the those acting under the authority or direction of a public servant.

iii) where there is sufficient time for recourse to public authorities; and

iv) The quantum of harm of that may be caused shall in no case be in excesses.


5) When the right of private defence of the body extends to causing death (Section100) : 

        The right of private defence of the body extends, under the restrictions mentioned in the last preceding section, to the voluntary causing of death or of any other harm to the assailant, if the offence which occasions the exercise of the right be of any of the descriptions hereinafter enumerated, namely :

    First - Such an assault as may reasonably cause the apprehension that death will otherwise be the consequence of such assault;

   Secondly - Such an assault as may reasonably cause the apprehension that grievous hurt will otherwise be the consequence of such assault; (See.. Difference between Hurt and Grievous Hurt )

     Thirdly - An assault with the intention of committing rape;

     Fourthly - An assault with the intention of gratifying unnatural lust;

     Fifthly - An assault with the intention of kidnapping or abducting;  (See... Kinds of Kidnapping)

    Sixthly - An assault with the intention of wrongfully confining a person, under circumstances which may reasonably cause him to apprehend that he will be unable to have recourse to the public authorities for his release.  (See.. Difference between wrongful Restraint and Wrongful Confinement )

    Seventhly - An act of throwing or administering acid or an attempt to throw or administer acid which may reasonably cause the apprehension that grievous hurt will otherwise be the consequence of such act.  [Inserted by Section 2 of ‘The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.]

Ingredients 

To invoke Section 100 of Indian Penal Code following four conditions must exist.

(1) The person exercising the right of private defence must be free from fault in bringing about encounter.

(2) There must be present an impeding peril to life or of great bodily harm, rape, unnatural lust,kidnapping or abduction, wrongful confinement etc.

(3) There must be no safe or reasonable mode of escape by retreat, and

(4) There must have been a necessity for taking the life.



6) When such right extends to causing any harm other than death (Section 101) : 

        If the offence be not of any of the descriptions enumerated in the last preceding section, the right of private defence of the body does not extend to the voluntary causing of death to the assailant, but does extend, under the restrictions mentioned in section 99, to the voluntary causing to the assailant of any harm other than death.

7) Commencement and continuance of the right of private defence of the body (Section 102) :

      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; and it continues as long as such apprehension of danger to the body continues.

8) When the right of private defence of property extends to causing death (Section 103) : 

      The right of private defence of property extends, under the restrictions mentioned in section 99, to the voluntary causing of death or of any other harm to the wrong-doer, if the offence, the committing of which, or the attempting to commit which, occasions the exercise of the right, be an offence of any of the descriptions hereinafter enumerated, namely -

     First -  Robbery ;

    Secondly - House-breaking by night;

    Thirdly - Mischief by fire committed on any building, tent or vessel, which building, tent or vessel is used as a human dwelling, or as a place for the custody of property;

    Fourthly -Theft, mischief, or house-trespass, under such circumstances as may reasonably cause apprehension that death or grievous hurt will be the consequence, if such right of private defence is not exercised.


9) When such right to causing any harm other than death (Section 104) : 

           If the offence, the committing of which, or the attempting to commit which occasions the exercise of the right of private defence, be theft, mischief, or criminal trespass, not of any of the descriptions enumerated in the last preceding section, that right does not extend to the voluntary causing of death, but does extend, subject to the restrictions mentioned in section 99, to the voluntary causing to the wrong-doer of any harm other than death.

10) Commencement and continuance of the right of private defence of property (Section 105)

           The right of private defence of property commences when a reasonable apprehension of danger to the property commences.
             The right of private defence of property against theft continues till the offender has effected his retreat with the property or either the assistance of the public authorities is obtained, or the property has been recovered.
            The right of private defence of property against robbery 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 or of instant personal restraint continues.
             The right of private defence of property against criminal trespass or mischief continues as long as the offender continues in the commission of criminal trespass or mischief.
              The right of private defence of property against house-breaking by night continues as long as the house-trespass which has been begun by such house-breaking continues.

11) Right of private defence against deadly assault when there is risk of harm to innocent person (Section 106) : 

              If in the exercise of the right of private defence against an assault which reasonably causes the apprehension of death, the defender be so situated that he cannot effectually exercise that right without risk of harm to an innocent person, his right of private defence extends to the running of that risk.

    Illustration : 

          A is attacked by a mob who attempt to murder him. He cannot effectually exercise his right of private defence without firing on the mob, and he cannot fire without risk of harming young children who are mingled with the mob. A commits no offence if by so firing he harms any of the children.


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