The right of private defense is absolutely necessary. The law does not require a person to behave like a rank coward and do nothing on certain occasions. However, law-abiding that person maybe he has to fight and stand on the ground. The right of self-defense must foster in the citizens of every free country.
When a person is attacked he should not run from the ground. His action will be justified in the eye of law if he holds the ground and counter-attack the assailants. While using the right of private defense, the injury which is inflicted must not out of proportion to the injury which was inflicted.
Right of Private Defense in Pakistan
The Pakistan penal code 1860 contains the whole law on self-defense in sections 96 to 106. According to PPC “nothing is an offense which is done in the exercise of defense.” This code does not define the right but it explains the extent, limitation, and conditions under which this right can be used.
The whole law can be summarized in the following way;
- This right is available for the defense of a person and for his property.
- This right can be exercised not only to protect one’s own person or property but also to protect any other person’s body or property.
- Acts of persons of unsound mind also come under this right.
- Acts done by public servants in the exercise of their duty are not subject to this right.
- There is no right of private defense when there is a time to recourse to the public authorities.
- The person does not have the right to extend more harm than necessary.
- When there is an apprehension of death, rape or unnatural offense, the person in danger can cause the death of that person showing threat.
- In private defense, any harm other than death can be caused.
- The right to defend the body starts when the threat arises and continues until the danger nullifies.
- During the robbery, housebreaking by night, mischief by fire death, anyone can cause death under this right.
These sections, in fact, justify a crime committed in self-defense. But this right is circumscribed by limitations and exceptions contained in the code.
Principles Governing Right of Private Defense
Some of the well-known principles governing the right of private defense are:
- When the accused person is in the process of exercising this right, he is not expected to weigh his action “in golden scales”
- Nor can he be expected to “modulate his defense step by step”
- It is not possible to keep the proper sequence and account of “action and counteraction”
- The attitude of “cool bystander” cannot be expected from a person who is fighting.
Circumstances for Reaching Correct Conclusion
While calculating the quantum of private defense there are some circumstances that should be considered for reaching a correct conclusion;
- Helpless physical state of the accused
- Position of the victim and accused
- The mental and physical capacity of the victim and accused
- Actual physical contact and action demonstrated during the occurrence
- Apprehension of danger
- Whether adoption of lesser means of defense was possible
- Background of both the parties
- Offense or defense offered by each party
Even if all these circumstances are taken into account still facts of each case differ. There can be various shades of the Right of private defense.