Legal IQ


Right of private defence cannot be said to be an offence in return. The right of self-defence under Section 96 is not absolute but is clearly qualified by Section 99 which says that the right in no case extends to the inflicting of more harm than it is necessary for the purpose of defence. It is well settled that in a free fight, no right of private defence is available to either party and each individual is responsible for his own acts. While it is true that law does not expect from the person, whose life is placed in danger, to weigh, with nice precision, the extent and the degrees of the force which he employs in his defence, it also does not countenance that the person claiming such a right should resort to force which is out of all proportion to the injuries received or threatened and far in excess of the requirement of the case. The onus of proving the right of private defence is upon the person who wants to plead it. But an accused may be acquitted on the plea of the right of private defence even though he has not specifically pleaded it.

Courts are empowered to exempt in such cases. It must be borne in mind that the burden of proving an exception is on the accused. The right of private defence, as the name suggests, is an act of defence and not of an offence. Consequently, it cannot be allowed to be used as a shield to justify an aggression. This requires a very careful weighing of the facts and circumstances of each case to decide as to whether the accused had in fact acted under this right. Assumptions without any reasonable basis on the part of the accused about the possibility of an attack do not entitle him to exercise this right. It was held in a case that the distance between the aggressor and the target may have a bearing on the question whether the gesture amounted to assault. No precise yardstick can be provided to fix such a distance, since it depends upon the situation, the weapon used, the background and the degree of the thirst to attack etc.

25.1. Workers of a factory threw brickbats and the factory owner by a shot from his revolver caused the death of a worker. The right to private defence is

a. Available to the Owner because he had a reasonable apprehension of danger to his life
b. Not available to the owner because the amount of force he used was out of proportion to the injuries received or threatened.
c. Available to the Owner because the he weighed the injuries the workers might cause.
d. None of the above.

Answer: b

25.2. 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. One kid dies due to fire from A’s gun. A is

a. Is guilty of murder
b. Is not guilty of murder
c. Will be granted the right to self defence
d. Will not be granted the right to self defence

Answer: c

25.3. A was passing by the street when he found that Z was trying to grope B, fearing that Z will rape B, A started running towards them. Z saw this and started running from the scene since A had a baseball stick in his hand. A kept running after Z and finally after getting his hands on him he thrashed him so badly that Z was admitted to Hospital.

Will right to self-defence be available to A?

a. No, since the Z had already left B and started running so he was not an danger anymore.
b. Yes, beating Z was necessary because he would have groped somebody else after sometime
c. No, since right to private defence cannot be allowed to be used as a shield to justify an act of aggression.
d. Yes, because the A’s act was based on reasonable assumption of future activities of Z.

Answer: c

25.4. Assume in the above case, “ if instead of running, Z would have taken out a revolver and threatened A to leave the place or get killed. Would the action of A justified?

a. Yes
b. No
c. May be may not be
d. None of the above

Answer: a

25.5. The accused, five in number, went out on a moonlit night armed with clubs, and assaulted a man who was cutting rice in their field. The man received six distinct fractures of the skull-bones besides other wounds and died on the spot. Is right to private defence against their property available to them?

a. Yes, since the victim was cutting rice in their field, they have the right to retaliated.
b. No, since they knew that the person is cutting rice in the field, it was an act of aggression and not defence.
c. Yes, since the accused very carefully weighed the situation before doing anything
d. No, since the right to private defence is not against the property.

Answer: b

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