Self-defence and the law: India

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When facing unlawful aggression

Respect law, but don’t be coward’

Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN

From the archives of The Times of India 2007, 2009

New Delhi: At a time when terror threatens our way of life, the Supreme Court has taken a proactive view of ‘self-defence’, saying the law doesn’t require citizens to be cowards when facing unlawful aggression.

Calling running in the face of danger degrading to the human spirit, a three-judge SC Bench laid down a 10-point guideline on the right to selfdefence, under which a person cannot be accused of a crime even if he inflicts mortal wounds on the aggressor. P 9

Self-defence includes defence of kin: SC

The Times of India, Jun 17 2016

Dhananjay Mahapatra

In a significant judgment that expands the boundaries of the right to self-defence, the Supreme Court has ruled that a person would be right in taking the law into his hands if he witnessed his parents or relatives being assaulted. The landmark ruling came in the case of two persons who had been convicted by the trial court for assaulting some of their neighbours in the villagers. The Rajasthan high court upheld their conviction and sentenced them to two years' rigorous imprisonment. But the Supreme Court bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh found the facts to be a little different: It was true that the two convicts had assaulted others, but police failed to point out why the two had resorted to assault and how they had so many injury marks on their bodies, the SC reasoned while acquitting the two of all charges. The SC said the two had taken the law into their hands on witnessing their parents being attacked and this was why they , too, sustained injuries as they tried to protect them. In fact, the assault on their parents using both blunt and sharp objects was so severe that their father later succumbed to his injuries.

Importantly , the bench said: “The appellants can legitimately claim right to use force once they saw their parents being assaulted.“ Justice Singh, writing the judgment for the bench, noticed another important factor that was not highlighted by the prosecution and which led to the conviction of the duo.

Interestingly , Haryana DGP KP Singh last month created a flutter by saying the common man had the right to even kill another person attempting to rape a woman or murder someone.

The SC said that the HC drew correct inferences but proceeded to convict the appellants on the misconceived ground that both parties had withheld the origin and genesis of the conflict and it cannot be determined as to which party was the aggressor. The bench said: “Once a court comes to a finding that the prosecution has suppressed the genesis and origin of the occurrence and also failed to explain the injuries on the person of the accused, including death of father of the appellants, the only course left open was to grant benefit of doubt to the appellants.“

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