Right of Private Defence
In a general sense, defence means to protect from something. The right of private defence under the Indian Penal Code is a defence which a person exercises to protect one’s or other’s body and property.

The defence is available as a shield to protect and not to commute offence in the name of defence. This right is available to a person only when he has no other option than protecting himself or herself. It is not an absolute right. It also has some restrictions and limitations.

Right of Private Defence – Section 96 of IPC

If a person commits an offence in the exercise of the right of private defence, then it is not an offence under the Indian Penal Code. But the harm should not be more than which is necessary for the purpose of protecting body and property.

Bare Act PDFs

What is reasonable shall be taken into consideration by the court. What amount of harm is necessary for the right of private defence has nowhere been scaled or measured.

Private Defence of Body and Property

Except the restrictions contained in section 99 of the Indian Penal Code, a person can defend his own body, and other’s body and also his property and other’s property. Property may be movable or immovable.

Restrictions under Section 99 IPC

There are some acts to which a person do not have the right of private defence. They are:

A. There is no right of private defence against the public servant who is acting in good faith until and unless there is an apprehension of death or grievous hurt by his actions. For Example, a police officer.
Explanation I– But a person can exercise his right of private defence against a public servant when he is not aware of or has no reason to believe that he is a public servant.

B. There is no right to private defence against the act which has been done in compliance of the directions given by a public servant until and unless there is an apprehension of death or grievous hurt by his actions.
Explanation II– But a person can exercise his right of private defence against a person who is doing an act on the directions of the public servant, when he is not aware of or has reason to believe that the person is acting on directions by the authority.

C. A person does not get the right of private defence where he has the time to approach or seek help from the public authorities.

D. A person is not authorized to exercise the right of private defence more than which is required. A person may cause reasonable harm which is necessary for defence.

When Private Defence Extends to Cause Death

It is a rule that a person exercising the right of private defence is allowed to inflict reasonable harm to protect body or property. But there are certain occasions when this right extends to causing of death. They are:

1. In the case of Body

Section 100 IPC

A. When a person is assaulted in such a manner that it creates apprehension in the mind of a person that if he does not exercise his right of private defence, then death will be the consequence of such assault.

B. When a person is assaulted in such a manner that it creates apprehension in the mind of a person that if he does not exercise his right of private defence, then grievous hurt will be the consequence of such assault.

C. When a person is assaulted with the intention of getting raped.

D. When a person is assaulted with the intention of unnatural lust (unnatural sexual desire).

E. When a person is assaulted by being kidnapped or abducted.

F. When a person is assaulted of being wrongfully confined and creates apprehension in the mind of a person that he would not able to recourse to public authorities after that.

G. When a person has the apprehension that acid is about to be administered or thrown on him or her and if he or she does not exercise the right of private defence, grievous hurt will be the consequence.

2. In the case of Property

Section 103 IPC

Except for the restrictions mentioned under section 99, a person has the right to extend his right of private defence to cause death when:

A. The person attempts or commits the offence of robbery; or

B. The person who attempts or commits housebreaking or house-trespass after sunset and before sunrise; or

C. The person attempts to destroy or destroy/diminishes (mischief) any building, tent or vessel used for human dwelling by fire; or

D. The person attempts or commits theft, mischief, or house-trespass and causes apprehension in the mind of other that if the right of private defence is not exercised, death or grievous hurt will be the consequence.

Notes:

  1. The right of private defence of a person continues till the danger to body or property continues.
  2. A person has the same right of private defence against an unsound mind person or an intoxicated person like a normal prudent man.
General exceptions are given under Chapter IV of the Indian Penal Code from section 76 to section 106. These cover various defences that an accused can plead for offences committed by him under the Code or any special or local law. An analysis of these sections indicates that they deal with situations that make the presence of mens rea opposing.
At WritingLaw, we have covered all the essential IPC General Exceptions with dedicated posts. Here are the links. Take a look.
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