In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court has
observed that the right to self-defence applies not only to “the defence of
one’s own body against any offence but also to defence of the body of any other
person”. The observation comes in the backdrop of a case of Tamil Nadu forest
ranger who had shot dead a sandalwood “smuggler” in 1988. The Supreme Court has
acquitted the forest ranger.
Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 96 to 106 states
the law relating to the right of private defence of person and property.
Section 96 of the IPC states that nothing is an offence, which is done in the
exercise of the right of private defence.
Section 97 states that a person has right to
defend: a) His own body, and the body of any other person, against any offence
affecting the human body and b) The property (movable or immovable), of himself
or of any other person against any act of theft, robbery, mischief or criminal
However the right of private defence is not an
absolute right and is subjected to restrictions contained in Section 99.
Section 99 states that the right in no case extends to the inflicting of more harm
than it is necessary for the purpose of defence.