This CASE SUMMARY has been done by Divya K. (currently pursuing BBA LLB in Symbiosis Law School)
Table of Contents
The present case State of U.P. v Niyamat and Ors. is an essential judgement and deals with the right of private defence, reasonable apprehension of death or grievous hurt and arrest of a person without a warrant and when it is unlawful. It is the state’s responsibility to provide protection for the life and property of the citizens. However, it cannot allow a policeman to each and every person in the country. Therefore, the Indian penal code, 1860 provides a provision of self-preservation in way of the right to private defence. IPC provides citizens with the right to protect one’s own body and property against offences affecting the human body or property. But these private defences, are also subject to certain restrictions as laid down under section 99 of IPC. In the present case, the respondents tried to save a suspect who was arrested by two constables without any arrest warrant.In the due course, they used a certain amount of force against the constables. The question here is did the respondents had the right of private defence against public servants and can they use force to rescue a person who is unlawfully arrested or if they will be subjected to restrictions available against the right to private defence.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
In the present case, the two constables Gauri Shanker and Kanauji Lal arrested Dharampuri from Nidhauli Khurd. They started for Etah accompanied by the suspect Dharampuri in custody and Virendra Nath, the deceased. When the constables reached the field of Matadin adjoining Etah-Shikohabad road, the respondents came there armed with spears, pharsas and lathis to rescue Dharampuri from the custody of the constables. When the constables saw the respondents with the intention of scaring them away, the constable Gauri Shankar fired one shot from his private gun. They stopped for a while and the constables started moving forward. The respondents again started moving towards the constables and seeing this Gauri Shanker fired the second shot. The respondents asked the police constables to release Dharampuri. It is alleged by the prosecution that the respondents threatened to release the suspect and because of that constable, Gauri Shanker fired the third shot. hearing the noises, the witnesses and other people came with torches of light. The prosecution also alleged that the respondents tried to assault the constables and rescued the suspect. They tried to snatch the gun and at that time Virendra Nath intervened and he got assaulted and injured because of the rustle to snatch the gun and cartridges. As a result, the two constables got injured and Virendra Nath died.
The present case had the following issues:
- The constables arrested the suspect without a warrant. Is it a lawful arrest or not?
- Do the respondents, in this case, have the right of private defence against the constables?
- Whether the use of force to rescue people who are unlawfully arrested permissible or not?
In the present case, the court observes the provisions related to the right of private defence, restrictions on private defence mentioned under sections 97 and 99 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and arrest done without warrant mentioned under section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The court observed whether in cases where the arrests are done without a warrant and are deemed unlawful, the other person can use force against the person arresting to rescue the arrested individual. Apart from this, another important provision in this case section 97 which states that “every person has a right, subject to the restrictions contained in section 99, to defend his own body, and the body of any other person, against any offence affecting the human body.”
The court has decided in favour of the respondents, Niyamat and others and against the plaintiff, the state of Uttar Pradesh. The court observed the facts and decided the following things: i) the only purpose of the respondents going to the place of occurrence was to rescue the suspect and not to assault the constables or murder anyone, ii) the arrest of the suspect by the police was not justified and was illegal since there was no evidence that the suspect was involved in any cognizable offence or for causing reasonable suspicion which gives the right to the respondents to rescue the suspects from the custody, iii) the respondents reacted only after three shots were fired by the constable which caused reasonable apprehension in the minds of the respondents of grievous hurt or death, therefore that gives them the right to act in right of private defence, and iv) the respondents did not try to assault the informer and it was the informer who got involved in order to help the constables. Additionally, it cannot be said that the respondents were members of unlawful assembly or they were using unlawful force.
An appeal was filed that the respondents could have rescued the suspect in a lawful manner keeping in view section 99 of the IPC. They contended that the right of private defence was mentioned under section 97 because they could have taken a lawful approach towards rescuing the suspect instead of resorting to violence. The court decided in favour of the respondents and iterated that they had the right to private defence.
In the present case, there are three issues. Firstly, if the arrest of the suspect by the constables was lawful or not. As per the facts, it is evident that there was no evidence of the involvement of the suspect in a cognizable offence. Therefore, the arrest of the suspect without a warrant by the constables was unjustified and unlawful. Secondly, if the right of private defence was available in this case or not. the fire shots by constables gave rise to a reasonable apprehension of death or grievous hurt and this entitles them to be benefited from the right to private defence. Section 99 gets attracted only when there is no reasonable apprehension but, in this case, the respondents were subjected to fear of death or grievous death so the said section will not apply. Thirdly, if the respondents had the right to use force to rescue the suspect. the fact that the arrest was unjustified and unlawful gives them the right to use force while rescuing the suspect.
The present case, State of Uttar Pradesh v Niyamat and others is an eye-opener with respect to the application of sections 97 and 99 under the Indian Penal Code. The judgement by the court iterated that the citizens have the right to act in private defence to protect their own body or others against any offence affecting the human body. And the restrictions mentioned under section 99 will be attracted only if there is no reasonable apprehension of grievous hurt or death.
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 41, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 99, No.- 9, Acts of Parliament, 1860 (India).
 Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 97, No.- 9, Acts of Parliament, 1860 (India).