The right of private defence is codified in ss. 96 to 106, I.P.C. which have all to be read together in order to nave a proper grasp, of the scope and the limitations of this right. By enacting these sections, the authors of the Code wanted to except from the operation of its penal clauses classes of acts done in good faith for the purpose of repelling unlawful aggression.
1. No Plea of Private Defence against Private Defence
This right is available against an offence and, therefore, where an act is done in exercise of the right of private defence such act cannot give rise to any right of private defence in favour of the aggressor in return.
2. Cannot exceed the right of private Defence
This would seem to be so even if the person exercising the right of private defence has the better of his aggressor provided of course he does not exceed his right because the moment he exceeds it; he commits an offence.
3. No Right of Private Defence if there was time to contact police
There is also no right of private defence in cases where there is time to have recourse to the protection of public authorities. The right of private defence is essentially a defensive right circumscribed by the statute, available only when the circumstances clearly justify it.
It should not be allowed to be pleaded or availed of as a pretext for a vindictive, aggressive or retributive purpose.
Extension of Private Defence
According to S. 97 this right vests even in strangers for the defence of the body and property of other persons against offenses mentioned therein. the courts have, therefore, to be careful in seeing that no one on the mere pretext of the exercise of the right of private defence takes sides in a quarrel between two or more persons and inflicts injuries on the one or the other.
In a case when two parties are having a free fight without disclosing as to who is the initial aggressor it may be dangerous as a general rule to clothe either of them or his sympathiser with a right of private defence. If, however, one of them is shown to be committing an offence affecting human body then would of course seem to give rise to such right.
If there is no initial right of private defence then there can hardly be any question of exceeding that right.
In exercise of this right of private defence, any kind of hurt can be caused, but not death; and the other is that the use of force does not exceed the minimum required to save the person in whose defence the force is used.
Munney Khan vs State Of Madhya Pradesh, 1971 AIR 1491, 1971 SCR (1) 943