WRONGFUL RESTRAINT AND WRONGFUL COMFINEMENT
Section 339 and 340 of Indian Penal Code define Wrongful Restraint and Wrongful Confinement respectively. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 makes wrongful restraint and wrongful confinement punishable under Section 339 to 348.
To understand wrongful restraint and confinement, we first need to understand the meaning of wrongful. In criminal law, wrongful is defined as an act which is injurious, heedless, reckless, unjust, unfair, unlawful and negligent. It includes any act which is unlawful or unauthorized or any other act of this nature which amounts to a civil wrong.
According to Section 339 of the Indian Penal Code;
“Whoever voluntarily obstructs any person so as 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.”
Further, the section also lays down an exception, which is that if a person in good faith believes himself to have a lawful right to obstruct and so obstruct a private way over land or water, then it does not amount to wrongful restraint.
To establish the offence of wrongful restraint the complainant must prove all the following essential:
That there was an obstruction;
That the obstruction prevented the complainant from proceeding in any direction;
That the person/complainant so proceeding must have a right to proceed in the direction concerned.
The objective of this section is to ensure that the freedom of a person is protected. When a person has a right to proceed in a particular direction then the law must ensure that such right is available to the person. Even if there is a slight unlawful obstruction, it is deemed to be wrongful restraint.
It is neither necessary that the obstruction caused must be physical nor is the presence of the accused essential for the restraint to be wrongful under this section.
The presence of assault is not required for the act to amount as wrongful restraint. Even use of mere words to cause obstruction to the path of a person may constitute as an offence under this section.
When a person obstructs another by-
Causing it to appear to that other person that to proceed would be;
Or by actually causing it to be impossible, difficult or dangerous for that other person to proceed
Lastly, it must be noted that in order to invoke this section and to prove the offence under this section, it is essential for the complainant to prove his right of way over the land.
Section 341 of the Indian Penal Code imposes punishment against the wrongdoer under Section 339 with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.
The classification of the offence under this section is that the offence is Cognizable, Bailable and Triable by any Magistrate, it is also compoundable by the person restrained or confined.
According to Section 340 of the Indian Penal Code;
“Whoever wrongfully restrains any person in such a manner as to prevent that person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits is said to have committed the offence of wrongful confinement.”
The essential ingredients of the offence of wrongful confinement are:
The accused should have wrongfully restrained the complainant (i.e. all ingredients of wrongful restraint must be present)
Such wrongful restraint was to prevent the complainant from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits beyond which he or she has the right to proceed.
Section 342 of the Indian Penal Code states that whoever wrongfully confines any person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both The classification of this offence is that it is cognizable, Bailable and Triable by any Magistrate. Further, it is Compoundable by the person confined with the permission of the court.