SECTION 97 IPC - Indian Penal Code - Right of private defence of the body and of property


Description of IPC Section 97

According to section 97 of Indian penal code, Every person has a right, subject to the restrictions contained in section 99, to defend:

  1. His own body, and the body of any other person, against any offence affecting the human body;
  2. The property, whether movable or immovable, of himself or of any other person, against any act which is an offence falling under the definition of theft, robbery, mischief or criminal trespass, or which is an attempt to commit theft, robbery, mischief or criminal trespass.

Section 97- Right to Private Defence of the Body and of Property

In case you are being attacked by someone you cannot wait for the law to protect you, it is your first duty to help yourself. Although the primary duty of the State is to protect life and property of the people, however, it is impossible for the state at the same time to keep a track of each and every person within its boundaries. There may be situations in which the State cannot help a person immediately when his life or property is in danger, therefore, this section has been incorporated under the Indian Penal Code by the lawmakers to provide the right to private defence of body and property.

The section broadly specifies the crimes against which the right to private defence can be exercised. It divides the right to private defence in two parts out of which the first part deals with the right to private defence of a person against himself or another person and the second part deals with the right to private defence of a person against his own or another person’s property. It gives any person the right to defend himself or any other person from an attack against his body or property.

The right to defend the body exists for any offence against the human body such as assault, hurt, grievous hurt, kidnapping, wrongful confinement, etc., whereas, the right to defend one’s property exists against an act that is either theft, robbery, mischief, or criminal trespass or an attempt to commit any of these offences. However, it is important to note that the right exists only against an act that is considered to be an offence and not against an act which is not an offence under the Indian Penal Code.

This is why a person who is committing an offence against the body or property of another person cannot claim the right to private defence if the victim gets the better of him while defending himself. For example, a policeman handcuffing a person on a belief that the person is a thief, has a right to do so and the act of handcuffing will not amount to an offence as the person is an offender and does not have the right to claim any protection under Section 97 of IPC.

This section also limits the exercise of the right to private defence to the extent of absolute necessity. In other words, the act of defending oneself shall not be more than necessary for defending aggression. The victim must have a reasonable apprehension of danger from the offender in order to claim protection under this section.

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