Can I kill Someone in Self Defense?

Killing people is wrong in every Country, every major religion. Even in 2000 B.C. Sumerian’s Code punishes any man who kills another man, But despite getting killed by someone or get severely injured you can defend yourself by a lethal force from harm is legal but there must be a ‘threat’ that can be verbal or made someone feel threatened to an extend so that you need to defend yourself which is what we call ‘Self Defense‘, Law has given the concept of a genre on private defense.

In early times, it was considered that one could defend himself by the method of running to a safe place, instead of killing or injuring the assailant. It was popularly known as the rule of retreat

What Self Defense is about?

Self-defense is generally defending yourself from any sort of threat or any counter-attack. but there has to be some reasonable application of getting hurt or injury. But on one point, the injury which is inflicted by that threatened person in exercising the right of private defense should match with that person getting threat. The court may conduct a test of reasonableness to that person’s reaction. The determination will be based largely on how a reasonable person would have behaved and acted in your place.

For example, If a person, physically weaker or a physically challenged person charging at you merely with his bare hands or with a stick or something and this was apparent to you. And you anticipating the attack pulled out your gun and shot him in self-defense. Such a reaction would probably not allow you the full benefit of the self-defense plea.

taking another example, If a person with no physically challenged issues charged at you. You punched him in the face. After which this person proceeded to run away from you. And while he ran away, you shot him in the back. Such a reaction would most likely not entitle you to any degree of benefit of the self-defense plea. if that person returned with a knife and stabbed you in your arm. Subsequent to which, you pulled out your gun and shot him in the leg to incapacitate him. But he died later because of the injury. You would probably be given the complete benefit of the self-defense plea.

What are the provisions related to Self Defense In India?

Section 96 to section 106 of the Indian Penal Code contain the provisions of self defense. You can read them here

According to Russell

Russell says ‘A man is justified in repelling force by force in defense of his person, habitation or property against one who manifestly, intends and endeavors by violence or surprise to commit a felony upon either,’. In these cases, he is not obliged to retreat but may pursue his adversary till he finds himself out of danger and if in a conflict between them he happens to kill him, such killing is justifiable.

Mayne’s propositions

According to Mayne the whole law of self-defence rests on the following four propositions:

(1) Society undertakes, and, in the great majority of cases, is able to protect private persons against unlawful attacks upon their person

(2) Where the aid of society can be obtained, it must be resorted to;

(3) Where the aid of society cannot be obtained, individual may do everything necessary to protect himself;

(4) The violence used must be in proportion to the injury to be averted and must not be employed for the gratification of vindictive or malicious feelings.

There is no right of private defense against the act of self-defense.

As the defense is largely governed and driven by the exact facts and circumstances in every case. There must be a proportionate force on self defense. For an example if one person tries to slap you, you don’t have a right of private defense to kill that person with a gun or a knife. You have to defend yourself by applying the same amount of force.

When the right of private defense is pleaded it must be reasonable and probable version satisfying the court that the harm caused by the accused Was necessary for either warding off the attack or for forestalling the further reasonable apprehension from the side of the accused.

The burden of establishing the plea of self-defense is on the accused and the burden stands discharged by showing preponderance of probabilities in favor of that plea on the basis of the material on record. In order to find whether the right of private defense is available or not the injuries received by the accused, the imminence of threat to his safety, the injuries caused by the accused and the circumstances whether the accused had time to have recourse to public authorities are all relevant factors to be considered. Thus running to the house, fetching a table, and assaulting the deceased is by no means a matter of course. These facts bear the stamp of a design to kill and take the case out of the purview of private defense.

It was also held that a specific plea of right of private defense by accused is not necessary. But if pleaded the burden of proof is on the accused and such burden stands discharged by showing preponderance of probability. The accused need not prove defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

Indian Penal Code, It is available only when circumstances clearly justify it. It cannot be pleaded or availed as a pretext for a vindictive, aggressive or retributive purpose of offence.

Relevant Cases.

Pammi v. State of M.P.

Chako v. State of Kerala

Rizan v. State of Chhatisgarh

Naveen Chandras v. State of Uttaranchal

Shajahan v. State of Kerala


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