Firstly, let’s try to understand what is meant by private defense here. It is nothing but a basic right which is based on the instinct of self-protection, every human being has this basic nature, law just recognizes it and makes an exception so that you are not punished while exercising your right. The exception that is given to you by law is to protect:
- Your own body
- Body of any other person
- Your property
- Property of any other person
But against what wrong, this Right of Private Defense is provided against what wrong?
Against any offence affecting the human body or against any act which falls under the definition of theft, robbery, mischief or criminal trespass or which is an attempt to commit the same. It is an exception in the sense that normally you are not allowed to hurt anyone but in case to protect yourself, another, your property or some else’s property, you can do so. This right is given by section 97 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. This law is based on the maxim that “necessity knows no law” and “it is the primary duty of man to first help himself”. The right of private defense begins as soon as the reasonable danger to body begins and continues till such danger or apprehension of danger continues.
But this right is not absolute, only available when a person can justify his situation. This is a preventive right and not punitive.
Sec 96. Explicitly provides that anything done in the exercise of right of private defense is not an offence.
How and where can you exercise the right of Private Defense?
There are some conditions that are necessary to exercise this right –
1. The accused should not have started the encounter.
2. There must have been a reasonable threat or apprehension of threat to life or limb.
3. The accused must not have left with another choice, there must have been no time to retreat or call police.
4. Finally, there must have been a necessity for taking a life.
In following situations, a person can exercise his right:
- Against a person of unsound mind (Sec.98, IPC).
2. Against following situations, where the right of private defense can also extend to causing of death (Sec. 100 IPC): –
- When there is a reasonable apprehension that the assault will result in death.
- When there is a reasonable apprehension that the assault will cause grievous hurt.
- An assault with an intention of committing rape.
- An assault with the intention of gratifying unnatural lust.
- An assault with the intention of kidnapping or abducting.
- When the assault was with an intention of wrongfully confining a person and the said person had reasons to apprehend that he will not have recourse to public authorities for release.
- An act of throwing or administering acid or an attempt to do so, provided that it causes reasonable apprehension that it is going to result in grievous hurt.
- This right also extends to causing of any harm other than death to the aggressor, if the offence is something different from what is mentioned in second point.
- This rise is also available when there is a threat to property for example robbery, mischief, house trespass, etc (Sec. 103, 104).
Thus, these were some situations in brief about how and where you can exercise your right of private defense but always remember that the defense of this right is only available when the harm inflicted is not more than what was necessary for your defense.