Why Was A Manipuri Girl Arrested For Defending Herself From Molesters?

Posted on May 5, 2016 in Society

By Ningreikhan Wungkhai:

Indian policemen stand guard near the residence of Yakub Memon, in Mumbai, India, July 30, 2015. India hanged Yakub Memon on Thursday for his role in the country's deadliest bombings, which killed 257 people in Mumbai in 1993, after the Supreme Court threw out his final plea for a stay of execution. Memon was convicted as the "driving spirit" behind the serial blasts in India's financial capital Mumbai, then known as Bombay. He spent two decades in jail before going to the gallows on his 53rd birthday in a jail in the western city of Nagpur. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade - RTX1MCNL
Representation only. Credit: Reuters/Shailesh Andrade.

One Manipuri girl was again allegedly assaulted, thrashed and put behind bars. The scuffle broke out when a girl from Manipur and her friend were waiting for an autorickshaw at Kalina Santacruz, Mumbai, on May 1, 2016. She had reacted over three ruffians hurling indecent remarks at them for fun. The brave Manipuri girl then pounced on the group who were overpowering her friend with whom she was waiting for an autorickshaw after coming from a friend’s birthday party. The three accused were booked under IPC Sections 452, 323, 506, 504, 354 and 34. Of the three, two were taken into police custody.

However, what is very unlikely of the Mumbai police is that the girl was booked under Section 323 (hurt) of the IPC and restrained behind bars. What was the logic behind arresting the Manipuri girl when she was only defending herself and her friend from being thrashed more severely? Police officers were taught the IPC and CrPC while undergoing training at police academies. Shouldn’t a police officer be well versed with the IPC and CrPC? Why was the girl arrested for acting for self-defence? Every now and then, it seems that even the protectors of law simply do not want to protect people from the northeast. If the officers are found to be racially motivated, they are not fit to be police officers and should be suspended immediately to prevent possible offshoots of regional conflicts.

One can kill the attacker while defending oneself from getting killed on reasonable fear. The provision under Section 96 to 98 and 100 to 106 is controlled by Section 99 of the IPC. Section 96 of the IPC thus says that “nothing is an offence which is done in the exercise of the right of private defence”. Section 97 of the IPC guarantees the “right of private defense of the body and of property. —Every person has a right, subject to the restrictions contained in section 99, to defend—

First — His own body, and the body of any other person, against any offence affecting the human body;

Secondly —The property, whether movable or immovable, of himself or of any other person, against any act which is an offence falling under the definition of theft, robbery, mischief or criminal trespass, or which is an attempt to commit theft, rob­bery, mischief or criminal trespass.”

In the case of ‘Darshan Singh vs. State Of Punjab & Anr’, on January 15, 2010, a bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A. K. Ganguly laid down a 10-point guideline on the right to self-defence, under which a person cannot be accused of committing a crime even if he/she has inflicted mortal wounds on the aggressor:

(i) Self-preservation is the basic human instinct and is duly recognised by the criminal jurisprudence of all civilised countries. All free, democratic and civilised countries recognise the right of private defence within certain reasonable limits.

(ii) The right of private defence is available only to one who is suddenly confronted with the necessity of averting an impending danger and not of self-creation.

(iii) A mere reasonable apprehension is enough to put the right of self-defence into operation. In other words, it is not necessary that there should be an actual commission of the offence in order to give rise to the right of private defence. It is enough if the accused apprehended that such an offence is contemplated and it is likely to be committed if the right of private defence is not exercised.

(iv) The right of private defence commences as soon as a reasonable apprehension arises and it is co-terminus with the duration of such apprehension.

(v) It is unrealistic to expect a person under assault to modulate his defence step by step with any arithmetical exactitude.

(vi) In private defence the force used by the accused ought not to be wholly disproportionate or much greater than necessary for protection of the person or property.

(vii) It is well settled that even if the accused does not plead self-defence, it is open to consider such a plea if the same arises from the material on record.

(viii) The accused need not prove the existence of the right of private defence beyond reasonable doubt.

(ix) The Indian Penal Code confers the right of private defence only when that unlawful or wrongful act is an offence.

(x) A person who is in imminent and reasonable danger of losing his life or limb may in exercise of self-defence inflict any harm even extending to death on his assailant either when the assault is attempted or directly threatened.

What man cherishes most and is beholden to are personal rights and liberty, equality, right against exploitation, and the fundamental rights guaranteed by our constitution. However, what actually frightens people is the highhandedness of the some policing officers and security personnel which is equally intimidating as the idea of a ‘Jungle Raj’. Besides, the third report of the National Police Commission noted that indiscriminate arrests are one of the main sources of corruption in the police fraternity.

Justice M.N. Venkatachalliah in the ‘Joginder Kumar vs. State of U.P.’, 1994, remarked that “no arrest can be made because it is lawful for the police to do so. There must be reasonable justification in the opinion of the officer affecting the arrest that such arrest is necessary and justified.”

If a police officer, as the guardian of our law and protector of the citizens, fails to perform or is unaware of the law governing his obligations, the IPC and CrPC, under any circumstances should immediately relieved from office and duty.

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