This article has been written by Meera Patel, a B.A. L.L.B student from the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Faculty of Law, Vadodara. This is an exhaustive article that covers everything you need to know about Section 341 of IPC.
Among all other rights we enjoy, we have the right to move freely in this country. According to Article 19(d) of the Constitution of India which states that “All the citizens have the right to move freely throughout the territory of India”. Not just free movement but we also enjoy personal liberty under Article 21. In easy words, the citizens of India get the freedom from physical restraint of the person by wrongful imprisonment. The Constitution provides various provisions if a person is deprived of personal liberty under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
This is an in-depth article that explains the meaning of wrongful restraint and elaborates on the penal sanctions in cases when a person violates the freedom of movement or personal liberty of another individual or group. Before we understand Section 341 and its provisions, we need to know what wrongful restraint and wrongful confinement are.
Wrongful restraint – Section 399 IPC
The word ‘wrongful’ according to law means unfair or injurious. In other words, ‘wrongful’ indicates unlawful activities which amount to a civil wrong. The word ‘restraint’ means that when a condition or situation is created through which an individual is wrongfully kept under control. As per Section 399 of the Indian Penal Code, wrongful restraint is defined as, “Whoever voluntarily obstructs any person to prevent that person from proceeding in any direction in which that person has a right to proceed, is said wrongfully to restrain that person.” This Section was constituted to secure an individual or a group from getting deprived of their guaranteed personal liberty.
To constitute the crime of committing wrongful restraint, the person who was deprived of their liberty must face an obstruction. Other than that, the person who faced the obstruction must feel that they are deprived or not given access to proceed towards the direction they desired to proceed in the first place. The last and main component which is required for it to be called a crime is that the victim must have the right to proceed towards the desired direction in the first place.
The main purpose behind constructing this Section is to ensure that an individual’s freedom is protected at any cost. We are eligible to move around the country in any direction we want and that is why the law must make sure that we get what we deserve. That is why even if someone experiences the slightest inconvenience in this context, it will be considered as wrongful restraint. By the term ‘slightest inconvenience’, the author means to say that the obstruction someone faces should not necessarily be physical and the presence of the accused party is not mandatory for it to be considered as an example of wrongful restraint under Section 399 of the Indian Penal Code. The reason behind this rule is that the act of assault isn’t the only way someone can obstruct an individual’s way as mere words can cause obstruction and that is why it may constitute a crime under this section.
An individual must prove their right to move on the land they were going towards before getting obstructed to invoke Section 399 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- Ashvini is walking towards the city garden and Jaykishan deliberately obstructs the path to make sure that Ashvini doesn’t reach the garden. In this case, Ashvini has the right to pass and go to the city public garden but as soon as Jaykishan blocks her path, it is determined that Jaykishan has wrongfully restrained her from passing.
- Piyush is helping his neighbor Komal fix her roof but couldn’t do it. Komal removed the ladder and threatened him that she will not give him the ladder back until he repairs her roof damage. This is a classic example of wrongful restraint as Komal detained Piyush on the roof of her house therefore Komal will be held liable for obstructing Piyush’s path.
Even though the meaning of wrongful restraint is defined clearly, some exceptions make Section 399 of the Indian Penal Code even more specific. The exception in this Section states that if a person in good faith (good faith being the keyword) feels that they need to obstruct someone’s pathway over land and/or water, then it will not amount to wrongful restraint.
- Ridhi was about to enter the ATM near her house but she was stopped by Shrey. They tried to stop her from entering the ATM as there was a snake trapped inside. In this example, Shrey tried to stop her with good faith therefore this will not constitute wrongful restraint.
Punishment for wrongful restraint – Section 341 IPC
As briefly mentioned above, Section 341 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the punishments that shall be used as remedies for wrongfully restraining an individual from moving towards a direction, place, etc provided the fact that the person has the right to go there. This section states, “Whoever wrongfully restrains any person shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may not extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.”
The word restraint means that the individual’s liberty has been compromised against his will and that’s what makes it different. Amongst many other reasons, a vital reason behind implementing this provision was because the Constitution of India believes the Right to Freedom of Movement of every individual in this country throughout the territory of India is crucial and that is the reason why our Constitution has catered to such rights by providing Article 19 and Article 21 as both these articles guarantee that every citizen of the country shall enjoy the Right to Personal Liberty.
Ambiguity is a concept that makes it easier for us to establish a proper set of laws depending on the situation and that is why we can say that liberty is not absolute. It can be turned and twisted depending on the public interest and by simply following the legal procedure. In this case, when we talk about the compromise of an individual’s right to movement, lodging a complaint against the accused before a magistrate is the first step to take as per the legal procedure, keeping in mind the fact that the nature of the act is a prime factor that should be considered before lodging the complaint. The vital element that is necessary to inspect Section 341 of the Indian Penal Code is the keyword ‘obstruction’. Obstruction is necessary for it to be considered as an offense and it should be directly attributed to the person accused. The person who has been accused of committing this offense must know or have a reason for causing the obstruction or for restraining the person from moving.
The main reasons that are considered before constituting an act as an offense of wrongfully restraining someone should be that the act of restraining someone must be voluntary and that the act of restraining someone must be in good faith as mentioned above. Therefore, if an obstruction is made in good faith, the accused is said to have committed no crime.
Case laws related to Section 341 IPC
- In the case of Lalloo Pd v. Kedarnath Shukla (1962), the petitioner Lallu Prasad accused Dr. Shukla of entering his shop and accusing him of not paying the rent on time thus asking him to vacate the shop and on refusal to do so, Dr. Shukla took away the keys from the petitioner to lock the door. He locked the door and went his way to lodge a complaint against Mr. Lallu. Later on, it was found that Mr. Lallu broke the lock and put his lock on the door instead, therefore when he came to his shop the next day, Dr. Shukla was standing in front of the door with three men and threatened Mr. Lallu if he attempted to open the shop. According to the facts of the case, the defense put their argument forward by stating that he just went to the shop to ask for the due payment and due to the financial state of the complainant, he was not able to pay the rent so he voluntarily handed over the keys to Shukla.
As per the verdict, Shukla was not held liable for trespass as asking the tenant to vacate the space on non-payment of the due is legal but at the same time, the court also observed that Shukla did put a lock on the door of the shop therefore by locking the door he had restrained the petitioner to enter the shop thus found him guilty under Section 341 of IPC. he was charged with a fine of twenty rupees.
- In the case, Vijya Kumari v. S.M. Rao (1996), the Apex Court of India held the complainant who was a teacher licensee of a hostel has no right to keep living there even after the term of the license she holds expires and therefore she cannot claim to utilize the room and if she refuses to move out and cause obstruction and that will amount to wrongful restraint which is cognizable offense. This statement was supported with an argument that stated that any individual that wrongfully restrains a person to move towards a particular direction shall be held guilty under Section 341.
- As per the facts of the State v. Babulal and Ors.(2020), it was held that the defense was held guilty under Section 341 of IPC amongst various other Sections for hurling offensive and abusive words on his sister-in-law when they were on the terrace. Like mentioned above, verbal abuse may also invoke Section 341 of IPC as it is counted as restraining an individual.
- In the case of State v. Kishan Kumar & Anr.(2013), the defense Mr. Kishan Kumar and Mr. Pankaj Kumar were accused and later on acquitted for for voluntarily causing hurt by raping the prosecutrix, threatening to kill her if she would disclose the said act. They were also held guilty for wrongfully restraining her under Section 341 of IPC.
- As per the facts from the case State v. Nitin Arora & Anr.(2014), the accused Mr. Nitin Arora was accused of raping the prosecutrix inside his shop. He pulled her in the shop and shut it up before raping her. He also threatened to release the video on the internet if she disclosed the incident to anyone. He was accused and acquitted for various offenses and one of them included Section 341 of IPC for wrongfully restraining her in his shop.
How is wrongful confinement different from wrongful restraint
As per Section 340 of the Indian Penal Code, it is clearly stated that whoever restrains any person in such a manner as to prevent the person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits, is said ‘wrongfully to confine that person.’ Section 340 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines the meaning of wrongful confinement. As mentioned above, compared to the offense of wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement is a serious offense. Wrongful confinement states that a person is wrongfully restrained from proceeding beyond a limited area. To constitute the crime of wrongfully confining anyone, the person who deprives their victims of their private liberty needs to confine the person voluntarily. Coercion will not work in this case. Secondly, the person who committed the offense must prevent their victim from proceeding beyond the limit they have given to their victims.
To sum up, there is a small difference between wrongful restraint and wrongful confinement. The thin line that separates both from one another is that wrongful confinement means restricting someone from going somewhere by all directions whereas the other one means restricting someone’s movement by just one direction. The offense of wrongfully restraining anyone is bailable, cognizable and the offender can be put under trial by any magistrate. The punishment for wrongful restraint is mentioned under Section 341 and the Section states that the offender shall be subjected to pay a fine that may extend upto 500 rupees or face jail time which may extend upto a month or both.
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