What are general principals governing the exercise of right of private defence?

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General Principles governing the exercise of right of private defence are:

(a) No right of private defence is available against an act which is not in itself an offence under the code.

(b) The right of private defence commences as soon as reasonable apprehension of danger to the body commences and not before that. It continues till that apprehension continues and not after that.

(c) It is a defensive and not an offensive act. Person exercising the right of private defence should not inflict more harm than it is necessary for the purpose of defence. Thus the defensive act should not be disproportionate and incommensurate apprehension. However, it is hard to expect from a person exercising his right in an imminent and real danger to use a 'golden scale' to weigh the danger and to modulate his step accordingly.

(d) The right of private defence extends to the killing of assailant when there is a reasonable apprehension of the crimes enumerated in the six clauses of S. 100.

(e) The right of private defence is not available when there is a time to have recourse to the protection of public authorities. (Yogender Morarji's case AIR 1980(SC) 660)

Right of private defence continues only so long as apprehension of danger continues. There is no right to retaliate for the sake of retaliating. According to the judgment of Apex Court in State of U.P. vs. Ramswarup 1974 Cr L J 1035 (SC), once an attacker has started fleeing he cannot be shot.


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