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Wrongful restraint and Wrongful Confinement

10 min read
Court process law insider

Nisman Parpia

Introduction

The right to freedom of movement throughout the territory of India is given to every citizen under the Constitution of India under articles 19 and 21. To safeguard an individual’s right to liberty against deprivation of another individual or a group, The Indian Penal Code lists penal sanctions in the case where one person violates the freedom of movement or personal liberty of another person. The word wrongful is defined as an act which is injurious, reckless, unjust, unlawful, unauthorized, and negligent amounting to civil wrong.

Section 339 and 340 of the Indian penal code defines wrongful restraint along with wrongful confinement respectively, although they appear to be the same, they are not and hence a proper understanding of these two offences is mandatory. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 makes both offences punishable under section 339 to 348.

Section 339 – Wrongful restraint

Any person who voluntarily obstructs or prevents any other person with an intention to prevent the other person from proceeding in any direction in which that person has full right and liberty to proceed is termed as wrongful restraint.

In simple words it means intentional blocking of someone’s right to move, however restraint of someone’s right physically is not the only factor constituting the restraint, threats to restrain the right of way to proceed also constitutes wrongful restrainment. Wrongful restraint takes away someone’s personal liberty and his or her freedom of movement.

Illustration

Seema is walking on a public Road having a right to pass. Mr. Rao obstructs her path despite having the knowledge that he does not have the right to stop her from passing. Because Seema was prevented from passing the road, Mr. Rao can be said to have wrongfully restrained Seema.

Exceptions

Obstruction of a private path over land or water which a person in good faith believes himself to have a lawful right to obstruct is not an offence.

Necessary ingredients

  • voluntarily and purposely obstructing a person from passing.
  • The obstruction or blockage is not in good faith.
  • The obstruction prevents the person from proceeding in any direction.
  • The person must have a right to move or proceed in the direction in which he wants to proceed.

Illustration: Miss Shah has a right to proceed in a path but is threatened by Mr. Desai to proceed. If she proceeds, Mr. Desai will leave his wild dog in front of Miss Shah. By doing this, Mr. Desai has wrongfully restrained Miss Shah’s path.

Objective/ aim of the section

The purpose of this section is ensuring that freedom of citizens is protected. If a person has a right to proceed or move forward in a particular direction, then law must ensure that such right is available to the person oh and also protect his life and personal liberty.

A person can also obstruct another person by-

  • Causing it to appear to that person that to go forward or proceed would be:
  • Impossible
  • Dangerous
  • Difficult
  • even by causing it to be impossible, difficult or dangerous for the other person to pass.

Illustration: Mr. T does not want Mrs H to pass by a particular street, in order to fulfill his intention he blocks the street with huge stones, showing that it is dangerous and impossible for Mrs H to pass.

It must be noted that in presence of assault is not required for wrongful restraint to take place, mere use of words to cause obstruction to any person is enough for the commission of this offence. to invoke this section and to prove the offence under this section, it is necessary for the complainant to prove his right of way over the land.

Punishment for wrongful restraint

The punishment against the wrongdoers under section 339 have been imposed in section 341 of the Indian penal code. The offence is cognizable, triable, bailable by any magistrate and compoundable by the person who has been restrained. The punishment includes-

  • imprisonment for a term extending to one month or
  • Fine extending to five hundred rupees.
  • Or both above punishments.

Case Laws

  • Case where the accused was guilty

In the case of Shobha Rani vs. The King[1] the landlord was accused of stopping his tenant from using the washroom. By preventing the tenant from using something that he had the legal right to use, the landlord had committed wrongful restraint under Section 339.

  • Case where the accused was not guilty

In the case of Shankarlal Sarma (Bhatra) vs State of Assam And Another[2] on 4 March 1975

Facts: There was one common Ejmali passage among a few brothers where their vehicles would come and go. There was also a garage where their vehicles were parked. The complainant had parked his Fiat car inside the garage. Shankarlal Sharma, the complainant’s elder brother (the petitioner) parked his car in front by blocking the passage. As a result of which, the complainant was obstructed to take out his car from there.

Issue: if any offence under Section 339 of the Indian Penal Code had been committed by the petitioner here.

Judgment: The court held that the Ejmali passage was a common passage to be used by the brothers and not a private passage. Therefore, the petitioner who parked his vehicle in the passage believed it to be done in good faith, he also had a lawful right to do so. Hence, they have not obstructed anyone’s private way or prevented anybody from passing. This comes under the exceptions of Section 339. Thus, he cannot be held guilty under wrongful restraint.

Section – 340 – Wrongful confinement

Confinement amounts to any action of restricting a person in a place within some boundaries, not allowing him or her to go beyond it. Wrongful confinement has been added in section 340 of the Indian penal code which states whoever wrongfully restrains a person, preventing him or her to move beyond a certain restricted limit or a territory is said to have committed offence of wrongful confinement under section 340. This includes full retainment as the person restricted or restrained is within a defined space or area.

Illustration: Veera places men with firearms and weapons in the entire building and tells Siya that they will shoot her if she tries to leave the building or escape. Here Veera has wrongfully confined Siya.

Ingredients:

  • The accused must wrongfully restraint the complainant without a proper and lawful justification.
  • The wrongful restraint should prevent the complainant from going beyond a particular area or a limit which he or she has the full right to proceed.
  • there should be absence of consent by the person for the confinement.

For example – when General Dyer entered the Jallianwala Bagh and blocked every exit for the people to escape, he wrongfully confined the people without their consent, without a lawful justification.

  • Temporary restraining cannot be counted as an offence under this section. in the case of State of Gujarat v. Keshav Lai Magnanbhai Gujoyan[3], the officials had visited the house of the accused to make some inquiry under the Money Lenders Act. The accused and family were restricted to go out of the house for some time, at the same time there was no apprehension of any use of force by the accused in case they attempted to get out, it was held that the accused did not commit the offence of wrongful confinement under Section 340 of the Indian Penal code.
  • There should be a desire by the complainant to proceed or to move forward.
  • Proof of physical obstruction is not necessary for wrongful confinement which has been discussed in the case above.

Exception

Wrongful confinement cannot be committed when a desire or wish to proceed has never existed, nor can a confinement be wrongful if it were consented to by the person affected, insistence by words of mouth or mere sitting around a person would not satisfy the requirements of the offense of wrongful confinement.

Punishment

Under section 342 of the Indian penal code, punishment for wrongful confinement includes imprisonment which may either extend to a year, a fine of Rs.1000 or both.

Case law

The case of Emperor vs Bandu Ebrahim And Anr.[4] on 11 September 1917

Facts of the case:

Accused No.1- pimp in the brothel, Accused No. 2 – brothel keeper in Bombay.

The complainant, Vithibai, was confined by the accused in the brothel. She was restrained to go anywhere. There were also guards at the door to prevent her along with other females from going out. The defence argued that Vithibai had voluntarily, given consent and submitted herself into prostitution, voluntarily came to Bombay with him.

After looking at the facts and evidence of the case, the court found that both the accused were guilty under Section 343 for wrongful confinement of the Indian Penal Code. And both will be sentenced for one-year rigorous imprisonment

Types of wrongful confinement

The punishment of the crime is decided in accordance with the period of confinement. Given below are different kinds of wrongful confinement depending on the duration and motive of the offender.

Section 343 states wrongfully confining a person for a period of three or more days. The punishment includes imprisonment of either a term which may extend to 2 years, or fine, or both.

Section 344 – Wrongfully confining a person for 10 days or more comes under section 344 of the Indian penal code with punishment including imprisonment for three years along with fine.

Section 345 – This section includes keeping a person in wrongful confinement after knowing that the writ to set him free has been duly issued. Here the imprisonment may extend to 2 years in addition to the term of imprisonment to which he or she is liable under any other section of this chapter.

Section 346 – If any person wrongfully confines another person and keeps it a secret from other people (including public servant) to prevent them from knowing that the particular person is confined, he or she shall be punished with imprisonment up to 2 years in addition to another punishment to which he may be liable for such wrongful confinement.

Section 347 – This section states who ever wrongfully confines the person with an intention to extort any property, valuable security or money from that person or any other person interested in that person who has been confined, leading to some illegal action, shall be punished with imprisonment extending to 3 years and shall also be liable to pay fine.

In the case of Deep Chand v. State of Rajasthan[5], the victim being a son of a wealthy man was pressured to go with the accused who were masked. After following the demands of the accused, the victim was confined for 17 days until the amount demanded was received by the victim’s father. The victim was released but the confinement for 17 days amounted to the offence of wrongful confinement and wrongful restraint making the accused liable under section 347 along with other sections.

Section 348 – Any person who has confined any other individual wrongfully for the purpose of extorting from the person confined any form of confession or information leading to the misconduct, or for the purpose of constraining the person confined to restore or to cause the restoration of any property or valuable security or to satisfy any claim or demand, or to give important information leading to the restoration of any property or valuable security, shall be punished with imprisonment for three years, and shall also be liable to fine. For example- Raj wrongfully confining Sooraj into a vacated bungalow to extort a confession at gunpoint in accordance to the murder of his brother.

Comparison between Wrongful Restraint and Wrongful Confinement

  • Wrongful restraint is the wider and generic term including several types of restraints in it while wrongful confinement is a specific type of wrongful restraint.
  • Wrongful restraint prevents a person from going forward in the direction in which the person has a right and will proceed while confinement keeps a person with certain circumscribing limits.
  • Wrongful restraint has a lesser punishment including imprisonment or fine of Rs.500 or both while wrongful confinement is a more serious offence leading to imprisonment for one year or fine of Rs.1000 or both.
  • Wrongful restraint includes partial suspension of one’s liberty and freedom while confinement is total suspension of liberty which goes beyond circumscribing boundaries.
  • Wrongful restraint can be called a restraint in line meaning that it involves all sorts of restraints happening in a path or Road or any sort of movement in a straight line. Here the person has an option to move back, Left or even right as he/she has just been restrained from moving forward. For example – When Saloni was walking down the basement, Varun stopped her by standing in her way which wrongfully restrained her. Wrongful confinement is called confinement in the circle which means that it includes all sorts of restraints that occur in the circumscribed limit or boundaries such as restriction from leaving a room or building etc. For example – Meeta tying Yashvi to a pole in a room, completely restricting her movements and thereby wrongfully confining her.

Conclusion

The offence of wrongful confinement and wrongful restraint deals with violation of the right to liberty which has been provided to every citizen of India which is a fundamental right recognised under article 21 and article 19(1)(d) of our constitution of India. The above analysis, illustrations and comparison would make it easier for understanding the difference between both these offences. The offences may look similar but there is a huge difference between the commission, intention, punishment, and heinousness of them.

  1. Shobha Rani vs. The King (1950-51 CrLJ 668 Cal.),
  2. Shankarlal Sarma (Bhatra) vs State Of Assam And Anr. on 4 March 1975
  3. State of Gujarat v. Keshav Lai Magnanbhai Gujoyan 1993 CrLJ 248 Guj
  4. The case of Emperor vs Bandu Ebrahim And Anr. on 11 September 1917
  5. Deep Chand v. State of Rajasthan, (AIR 1961 SC 1527)

References

  1. Overview of Wrongful Restraint & Wrongful Confinement under IPC 
  2. Wrongful Restraint and Wrongful Confinement
  3. IPC 367,368,369,370,371 Indian Penal Code| Kidnapping 
  4. Wrongful Restraint and Wrongful Confinement
  5. Wrongful Restraint and Wrongful Confinement
  6. Section 339 The Indian Penal Code
  7. Overview of Wrongful Restraint & Wrongful Confinement under IPC

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