In Deo Narain vs State of UP case, the Supreme Court explained what constitutes Right of private defense. According to section 102 IPC, the right of private defense of the body begins as soon as a reasonable apprehension of danger to the body arises from an attempt or threat to commit the offence, though the offence may not have been committed, and such right continues so long apprehension of danger to the body continues. The threat, however, must reasonably give rise to the present and imminent, and not to remote, danger.
Justice I.D Dua, Justice Alagiriswami, and Justice Vaidyialingam.
- There was a clash between the appellant and complainant parties over a possession of certain land. In this fight, the appellant inflicted a fatal spear injury on the chest of the deceased party.
- The matter was taken to the Trial Court where the sessions Judge held that the possession of the disputed plots of land was undoubtedly with the accused persons and acquitted all the accused on the ground that the accused were exercising their right of private defense on the ground of a reasonable assumption that Deo Narain and Chanderdeo must have received injuries on their heads before they inflicted injuries on the members of the complainant’s party.
- Aggrieved by the order, the State appealed to the High Court where all the conclusions of the trial court were upheld. The High Court was of an opinion that the appellant Deo Narain had exceeded right while inflicting injury with the spear on the chest of Chandrama, deceased.
- Chandrama had received one lacerated wound on the right side of his skull and one incised wound on the left shoulder with a punctured wound 41″ deep on the right side of the chest.
- The last injury handled his death. This injury, according to the High Court, was given by-the appellant Deo Narain with his spear.
- The reasoning of the High Court in convicting the appellant is, broadly stated, that it was only if the complainant’s party had actually inflicted serious injury on the accused that the right of private defense could arise, justifying the causing of death.
- In the present case, as only two members of the party of the accused persons, Chanderdeo and Deo Narain, appellant, had received injuries which, though on the head, were not serious, it did not justify them in using their spears. On this reasoning, the High Court convicted the appellant of an offence under Section 304, I.P.C. and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for five years.
- Complainant appealed to the High Court where it was held that the appellant exceeded his right of private defence on the sole ground he had used his spear with greater force than was necessary, that he had given a dangerous blow with considerable force with a spear on the chest of the deceased though he had only received a superficial lathi blow on his head, and convicted him for an offence under Section 304 of IPC.
- Aggrieved with the order of the High court, appellant filed SLP in the Supreme Court of India.
ISSUES IN THE CASE
- Whether the petitioner exceeded the right of Private Defense?
- Whether the petitioner is justified in using the right of private defense by spear for injury caused by lathi?
The bench was of the opinion that,
- As soon as the appellant rationally held danger to his body, even from a real threat by the party of the complainant to assault him so that by force he can take possession of the plots in dispute, he got the right of private defence and to use acceptable force against the wrongful aggressor in the exercise of that right.
- The party of the complainant had purposely come to prevent or obstruct the possession of the accused persons and that this forcible obstruction and prevention was unlawful. The appellant could reasonably apprehend imminent and present danger to his body and to his companions. He was thus fully justified in using force to defend himself and also his companions against the apprehended danger, which was manifestly imminent.
- It cannot be laid down as a general rule that the use of a lathi as distinguished from the use of a spear must always be held to result only in milder injury, because a blow by lathi on the head may prove instantaneously fatal. Therefore, if a blow with a lathi is aimed at a vulnerable part like the head, it cannot be laid down as a sound proposition of law that in such cases the victim is not justified in using his spear in defending himself.
The honorable court allowed the appeal and acquitted the appellant holding that the appellant was not justified in using his spear is an equally misconceived aid cannot be supported under Section 100.
In this case, the Supreme Court explained what constitutes the Right of private defense. The principles laid down, in this case, are very relevant and are precedent for a plea of right of private defense. It clearly justifies the acts reasonably.
Found this case summary useful? Check out other landmark IPC Case summaries here >>> IPC Case Summaries
Check out our YouTube Channel for free legal videos >>> LAW PLANET YT