Right to Private Defence

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The general maxim "necessity recognizes no law" and "it is the main obligation of man to first aid himself" serve as the foundation for the right of self-defence. Self-preservation is a human trait that, in all practical terms, he shares with every other creature. The first rule of criminal law is self-help. The right to private defence is a significant one, and it is primarily preventive rather than punitive in character. If state assistance is not available, it is nonetheless accessible despite hostility. The right of private defence is purely preventive and not punitive or retributive. Every person in India has the legal right to self-defence of body and property under the penal code outlined nation governing the right to private defence of person and property outlined in Sections 96 to 106. Private defence is a right for everyone.


What is Private defence? 

Every person in India has the right to engage in private self-defence against any external force that can cause them harm or injury. Private defence is the use of otherwise illegal means to defend oneself, another person, or one's property, or to stop any additional crimes from happening. 

The rules governing every Indian citizen's right to private defence are stated in Sections 96 to 106 of the IPC of 1860. Any unlawful conduct undertaken by anyone when acting in self-defence is not regarded as a crime, and as a result, no right to private defence may be claimed in exchange. 

The right is independent of the resistance's real wrongdoing. If the anxiety is genuine and reasonable, whether it is incorrect or not depends only on the illegal or seemingly unlawful nature of the act attempted. 

The right to private defence is a legally protected defensive right that is only available to people, Because this right might be used to defend oneself against an offence, any actions taken to exercise it cannot benefit the attacker. To use the right of self-defence, only a credible apprehension is required. The right to a private defence may be invoked without the offence having been committed in its entirety.

In the case of Kamparsare v. Putappa, it was determined that the bystander did not violate any laws when he chased and beat a youngster who was producing a dust cloud in the roadway. He used his right to self-defence by doing so.

Section 97 of the Indian penal code states, right of private defence of the body and of Property: The right to private defence may only be exercised to the degree that it is necessary under this Section. 

It must only be required to defend against aggression. There must be a legitimate fear of danger posed by hostility coming from the aggressor. 

The right to private defence is split into two parts in this section; the first portion deals with the right to protect one's person and the second part with the right to protect one's property.

While a trespasser is actively trying to enter the property but hasn't yet succeeded in doing so, the true owner has every right to remove him or her. However, if the trespasser has already succeeded in gaining possession and the genuine owner is aware of this, the true owner loses this right. The law stipulates that under these situations, the legitimate owner must evict the trespasser by using the legal remedies at their disposal. Although he is allowed to demonstrate that this right is established or may be upheld based on the prosecution's evidence, the accused is nonetheless responsible for proving his right to a private defence.

Can you use your right of self-defence to defend yourself against someone who is mentally ill? 

Section 98, even though any crime committed by a lunatic is not a crime in the eyes of the law, this will not impair your right to a private defence. We are aware that a person who is mentally ill is not subject to punishment for any crime. 

Private defence against public servant:

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.

this states that even if a public servant acting in good faith and the course of his employment directs an action that does not strictly comply with the law, there is no right of private defence against an action that does not reasonably give rise to fear of death or great bodily harm.

Private defence and ability to kill:

Section 100, the right to self-defence of the body includes the ability to kill

The following four requirements must be met to use the provisions of section 100, I.P.C: 

  • The individual using their right of private defence must not be at fault for causing the encounter; 
  • There must be an immediate danger to life or serious bodily damage; and
  • There must be no feasible or safe way to flee via retreat; The death must have been necessary.

As held by Supreme Court in Mohinder Pal Jolly v. State of Punjab explains section 101, When factory workers flung brickbats and the owner of the plant shot one of them with a revolver, killing the worker, it was determined that this section did not apply to him because there was no reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. Thus, the right of private defence of the body extends, subject to the limitations indicated in Section 99, to the voluntary infliction of any harm on the aggressor other than death if the offence does not fall under any of the categories listed in the previous preceding section.

How can the right to private defence be evaluated?

There isn't a strict formula to determine whether a person's act qualifies for private defence or not. It is determined by the particular set of circumstances under which the person acted. The court is willing to consider the plea if the circumstances demonstrate that the right to private defence has been properly exercised. When thinking about the act of private defence, the considerations mentioned below must be kept in mind, 

  • Whether or not there was enough time to contact the public authorities or police. 
  • Whether the damage was greater than what was required or not. 
  • Whether it was necessary to take such action
  • Whether or not the accused was the aggressor
  • If there was a credible fear of death, severe injury, or damage to one's person or property.

Private defence and property: 

Under the following conditions, the right of private property defence includes the ability to damage or kill an attacker.

  1. Robbery Night-time 
  2. Housebreaking
  3. Causing fire damage to a structure, tent, or vessel used for human habitation or the custody of property.
  4. Theft, vandalism, or house trespassing that reasonably raises the possibility of death or severe injury.

When does justice start, and how long does it last?

When there is a legitimate fear that there is a threat to the property, the right to private defence kicks in. however, if there is a legitimate fear of harm, one should continue to:

  • Theft is committed until the property has been recovered, the criminal has managed to flee with it, or aid from the authorities has been received.
  • Robbery is considered to be ongoing as long as the criminal continues to threaten or cause the fear of immediate death, immediate injury, or immediate personal restraint for any person.
  • Criminal trespass or mischief is committed as long as the perpetrator continues to do so.
  • If a house is broken into at night and no one is home. 


After reviewing the facts of the case and convincing the court that the right to private defence was warranted, anyone who acts in self-defence out of a realistic fear of harm will be punished.


Every citizen has a useful tool in the form of the right to self-defence. This right is in response to the threat and imminence of an attack, not as an act of retaliation. However, individuals may abuse this right. Finding out whether this right has been exercised in good faith or not is exceedingly difficult for the court to do.

The right to private defence is limited to avoiding doing more harm than is required for defence. The facts and circumstances must be taken into account to assess the level of force that was required to be applied.

1. What is the right to private defence?
2. When is the right to private defence available?