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“Without the right to defend yourself and the right to possess the means to do it- all other supposed rights are so much hot air”

Self-help is the first rule of criminal law and is still remains a rule, though with the passage of time and meet the need of the changing society this law is much affected by the consideration of necessity, humanity and social order. Right of self-defense is based upon the law of nature. It is a natural instinct in man to defend himself and maintain the possession of that which belongs to him against unlawful aggression of others. Nature has equipped man with all those means which are essential to achieve this object. Law does not stand in way of natural right of self-defense which therefore exists in full force. Right of self-defense is the preventive right and can only exercised to protect oneself or other person from any apprehending danger. This right cannot be exercised in retaliation or to take revenge. In every civilized society is the duty of the state to provide protection of its citizen it is not possible for the state to provide protection to every person. An act done by person while exercising right of private defense would be fully justified and there will be no criminal liability of the individual who commits an offence under self -defense, it does not give right to any right of private defense in return. Self-defense is a defense based on justification and it can operate as a perfect or imperfect defense depending on the circumstances. Let us analyze some examples with case study.

Example 1:

The person A who is a widowed mother of 20 year old young girl informed police when she and her daughter were alone in home during that night an unknown person illegally entered their home and tried to rape her daughter, in an attempt to protect her daughter she attacked the person with an axe due to which he died on the spot.

Example 2:

Z returning to his village for an annual fare on that night Y came into Z shop and abused him verbally. On returning to home Z and its members attacked Y and stabbed him to death.

In the above cases the right to private defense is applicable on the first example section 100 of IPC clearly says when the right of private defense of the body extends to causing death for eg: An assault with the intention of committing rape, An assault with the intention of gratifying unnatural lust, An assault with the intention of kidnapping or abducting, An assault with the intention or wrongfully confining a person, An act of throwing or administering acid or an attempt to throw acid on these circumstances the right to private defense is applicable. By analyzing the example 2 here Z and its members voluntarily tried to cause death of the assailant and pleading the right to self defense is not applicable here. In modern days the need of right to private defense has been increased in an alarming rate. One such example is Two men were stabbed to death for a watsapp message alleging they are child traffickers on the circulation of the message an unknown men stabbed the person with an axe. Here the deceased failed to use his right to self-defense. Even in the cases of mob lynching, acid attacks, communal riots, panchayat clashes, fake messages, rape, kidnapping, abducting, even a police officer wrongfully confining a person with an intention to kill him on these circumstance the detained person can use his right to self-defense. To prove the court, that right to self-defense is exercised the following conditions need to be proved

  • The person who is use his right to self-defense must be free from fault in bringing the encounter

  • There must be an danger to his life or body

  • There must be no safe or reasonable mode to escape

  • There must be an necessity or a valid reason for taking the life.

In Deo Ishwar Shinde vs. State to Maharashtra it was held that accused would be justified in eyes of law if in self-defense or to protect himself, accused takes the knife out of the possession of the deceased and in that state of mind inflicts multiple injuries on the deceased to avail further attack by the deceased. Thus the accused was entitled to right of private defense of body so as to cause death. In another case of Nabia bai vs. State of M.P the facts are, one day while accused, her mother and sisters were busy in weeding crop deceased attacked upon them with knife accused and her sisters were unarmed therefore to protect herself and her mother and sisters accused snatched the knife from the hand of deceased and caused serious injuries on deceased. Court held that the accused is not guilty of any offence as she acted in right of private defense of body and body of another person

Supreme Court stated that following are the circumstance in which right of private defense extends to causing death of the aggressor

  • Number of injuries sustained by the accused support the plea of private defense taken by accused that there was reasonable apprehension that assault would result in death.

  • If the deceased is unarmed and accused causes serious injuries to him here the act of the accused will not be justified as he does not have right to private defense to cause serious injuries to an unarmed aggressor.

  • Two constables who were part of an anti-dacoity squad started arguing with each other and raised their rifles. The other members of the group intervene and deceased lowered his gun but accused fired three shots. The plea of private defense of body was rejected by the court.

  • Supreme court held that blows given by lathi also apprehends danger to life if aimed at the vulnerable part of the body and accused would be justified to exercise private defense.

The right of private defense is based on the principle “necessity knows no law” and it is the primary duty of an individual to protect himself from any apprehending threat to his body or body of another person and sometimes this right extends to causing death of aggressor in self-defense. It can also be said that right of private defense is not merely a legal right but also a moral right because everyone having come into existence by natural process has a moral right to survive. Therefore law provides for right of private defense of person. However it is realized that with the changing needs of the society it is important that the laws should also get modified to meet the demand of people. Law of private defense is the most complicated part of Indian Penal Code.

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