In any country, in any law holding a person against his/her will is not only a crime but is also morally wrong. In India, Wrongful Confinement and Wrongful Restraint are two crimes which are against the Human Body and these offences are punishable under the Indian Penal Code.
What is Wrongful Restraint?
The term “Wrongful restraint” means keeping a man out of a place where he wishes and has a right to be. According to Section 339 of Indian Penal Code, “Whoever voluntarily obstructs any person so as to prevent that person from proceeding in any direction in which that person has a right to proceed is said wrongfully to restrain that person.” Here, the restraint or the obstruction could be caused either physically or by oral threats.
However, if the obstructions of a private way over land or water which a person in good faith believes himself to have a lawful right to obstruct is not an offence within the meaning of this section.
The object of this section is to protect the freedom of a person to utilise his right to pass in his way. The offence of wrongful restraint is complete if one’s freedom of movement is suspended by an act of another done ‘voluntarily’ that is to say, done with that intention or with the knowledge or belief in its likelihood.
To further elaborate Wrongful Restraint, consider these illustrations:
- A obstructs a path along which Z has a right to pass. A not believing in good faith that he has a right to stop the path. Z is thereby prevented from passing. Thus A has wrongfully restrained Z.
- B threatens to set a savage dog at Z if Z goes along a path along which Z has a right to go. Z is thus prevented from going along that path. Thus, B has wrongfully restrained Z.
- A was on the roof of a house repairing the broken pipe and after completing the work wanted to come down. B, upon seeing this, removes the ladder and thereby detains A on the roof. Thus, B has wrongfully restrained A.
- A put up a tin sheet projection over B’s compound wall so as to hang over his paved courtyard at A height of about 7 feet above ground and the projection did not prevent any moving below it. Here, A did not commit wrongful restraint because the projection did not prevent anyone from moving below it.
The essential ingredients of Wrongful Restraint are:
- The offender obstructed the victim voluntarily
- The obstruction prevented the victim from going in a particular direction
- The victim had every right to go in that direction
The offence of Wrongful restraint is punishable under Section 341 of IPC. According to it, “Whoever wrongfully restrains any person shall be punished with simple imprisonment for term which may extend to one month, or with fine which may and to five hundred rupees or with both.” This offence is cognizable, bailable, and compoundable and is triable by any Magistrate.
Thus, the offence of Wrongful Restraint is not a serious offence as the punishment is a simple punishment.
What is Wrongful Confinement?
The term “Wrongful Confinement” means when a person is wrongfully restrained from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits. According to Section 340 of IPC, “Whoever wrongfully restrains any person in such a manner as to prevent that person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits, said wrongfully to confine that person.”
The essential ingredients of Wrongful Confinement are:
- The offender should have wrongfully confined the victim
- Such wrongful restraint was to prevent the victim from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits beyond which he/she has the right to proceed.
This offence is a form of Wrongful Restraint. To further elaborate Wrongful Confinement, consider these illustrations:
- A causes Z to go within a walled space, and locks Z in thus preventing him from proceeding in any direction beyond the circumscribing line of wall. Here,A has wrongfully confined Z.
- A places men with firearms at the outlets of a building, and tells Z that they will fire at Z if Z attempts to leave the building. Here, A has wrongfully confined Z.
- B forces C into his house and locks it from outside preventing C from leaving the place. Here, B has wrongfully confined C.
This offence is punishable under Section 342 of IPC. According to Section 342, “Whoever wrongfully confines any person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.”
Wrongful Confinement is a serious offence and is covered from Sections 340 to 348 of the Indian Penal Code. The Aggravated forms of this offence are:
- Section 343: Wrongful confinement for three or more days. The punishment is Imprisonment of either description upto 2 years or fine or both
- Section 344: Wrongful confinement for ten or more days.The punishment is Imprisonment of either description upto 3 years and fine
- Section 345: Wrongful confinement of a person knowing that a writ for his liberation has been issued. The Punishment is Imprisonment of either description upto 2 years in addition to any term of imprisonment provided by any other section
- Section 346: Wrongful confinement is secret so as to indicate, an intention that the confinement of such person may not be known to any person interested in that person or to any public servant. The Punishment is Imprisonment of either description upto 2 years in addition to any punishment provided for such wrongful confinement
- Section 347: Wrongful confinement for the purpose of extorting any property, valuable security, or constraining person to do anything illegal or to give any information which may facilitate the commission of an offence. The Punishment is Imprisonment of either description up to 3 years and fine.
- Section 348: Wrongful confinement for the purpose of extorting confession or information which may lead to the detection of an offence, or compelling restoration of any property or valuable security or the satisfaction of any claim or demand. The Punishment is Imprisonment of either description up to 3 years and fine.
This offence can be further elaborated with this case law:
- State vs Balakrishnan
In this case, the accused was a Police Officer. He arrested the relative of the complainant. He had taken his relative into the police custody and beaten. The complainant went to police station and asked the accused what offence his relative did. He was not allowed to go and seek legal remedies. Moreover, the accused ordered the complainant to stand in the corner of the police station upto late night. The accused contended that the complainant was at liberty to go away from the police station. The Court remarked that when a citizen enters into a police station, the police officers’ authority prevails in that jurisdiction and they entertain it with a ruddy manner. Court held that the accused committed the offence of wrongful confinement.
- What is the difference between Wrongful Confinement and Wrongful Restraint?
Despite some similarities, both these offences against human body are completely different offences due to the following differences:
- Form: The offence of Wrongful Confinement is a form of Wrongful Restraint.
- Holding a person: In Wrongful restraint the victim is prevented from proceeding-in a direction in which that he/she has a right to proceed however, in Wrongful confinement the victim is kept within certain circumscribing limits and he/she who is wrongfully confined cannot go out of circumscribing limits, even if he/she wishes to go.
- Seriousness of Offence: Wrongful restraint is not a very serious offence and is punishable with lesser punishment while wrongful confinement is a more serious offence and is punishable with severe punishment than wrongful restraint.
- Suspension of Liberty: In wrongful restraint, there is only a partial suspension of one’s liberty or locomotion and the person restrained is free to move anywhere other than to proceed in a partial direction while in wrongful confinement, there is total suspension of liberty beyond certain circumscribing limits.
- Punishment: In Wrongful Restraint, the accused is punished with imprisonment of one month, or fine or both while in Wrongful Confinement, the accused is punished with imprisonment up to one year, or fine or with both.
Wrongful Confinement and Wrongful Restraint are two crimes which are punishable under the Indian Penal Code. These offences are not only against the human body but also restrict the person from his Right to Freedom.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Sections 339-348)
- State Of Tamil Nadu and Ors vs V.S. Balakrishnan And Ors, 1994 SCR 739
- Right to Freedom, Article 19, Constitution of India