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What is right of Self Defence?

ANS: Exercising the right of private defence or what is also known as self defence is one of the exceptions that the law recognizes. By virtue of this, a person commits no offence, in some circumstances, even if he takes the life of another. This right is discussed below.

The right of private defence is a very valuable right recognized in all democratic and civilized societies. It says that every person has a right to defend himself and his property against any threat, danger or violence.

The law does not expect a person to behave like a coward when confronted with dangerous situations. Law requires people to rise to the occasion in such situations. It is perfectly justifiable to use force, if it is needed, to protect oneself from an unlawful attack.

It is the primary duty of the state to protect the life and property of its subjects. But no law, however vigilant it may be, can control each and every troublemaker in the country. Therefore law confers the right of private or self defence on people. Nothing is an offence which is done in private defence. (S.96 of IPC)


B, a lady is attacked by a drunken person who attempts to rape her. B, desperately trying to safeguard her modesty, gets hold of a knife and stabs her attacker who dies as a result. Here B is not guilty of any offence because she was only defending herself.

When does the right of private defence begin and how long it continues?

ANS: The right of private defence begins as soon as there is an imminent danger to your body or property and it continues as long as this danger exists.


K aims a strike at R with a thick stick. R somehow avoids the blow and gives K a spear blow. K dies. R has not committed any offence. All R has done is to protect himself since there was a reasonable fear in his mind that death or grievous hurt would be caused to him.

Is it an offence if a judge imposes death penalty upon an offender ?

ANS: Nothing is an offence, which is done by a Judge while acting judicially. It is a privilege conferred on the Judge. (S. 77 of IPC)

What is the role of Consent in Criminal Law ?

ANS: Consent plays a very important role in criminal law. Its presence or absence makes all the difference between innocence and crime. For example, if you have sexual intercourse with a girl of over 16 years, who gives her consent, there is no offence. But if the act is done without her consent, it would be rape. However it may be noted that consent is irrelevant when a person has sexual intercourse with a female under the age of 16 and such act amounts to rape even though her consent is given. It further makes no difference if the male was under a genuine mistake about the age of the female who gave her consent. Consent is defined in S. 90 of IPC.

Can a doctor perform an operation on his patient without his consent ?

ANS: Yes, if it is very urgent and if the patient is in no condition to give his consent. In cases of emergency or unconsciousness (of the patient), no consent is required and the doctor can do whatever is necessary to save the patient's life. However it is to be noted whatever the doctor does in such situations must be in the best interests of the patient.

In life-threatening situations, doctors are not required to consult with parents or guardians of minor patients. The normal rule is that a doctor must seek the permission or consent of the parent or guardian of a minor patient before performing any risky operation.

* Note: Causing miscarriage is an offence even if it is done with the consent of the woman or her guardian. But if it is done to save the life of the woman, it will not be an offence (S. 91 of IPC).

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