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Punishment for wrongful confinement (Section 342 of IPC)

Earlier, ‘wrongful confinement’ was called ‘false imprisonment’. According to Winfield, it means ‘the infliction of bodily restraint which is not expressly or impliedly authorised by law. However in IPC, ‘false imprisonment, was substituted by ‘wrongful confinement’-

Ingredients of Wrongful Confinement

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The essential elements of Wrongful Confinement are:

1) Wrongful restraint of a person or total restraint or complete deprivation of liberty without lawful justification.

2) Such restraint must prevent the person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits.

‘Wrongful confinement’ is a species of ‘Wrongful restraint. In wrongful restraint there is only a partial suspension of one’s liberty or locomotion, while in wrongful confinement there is a total suspension of liberty ‘beyond certain circumscribing limits’. Section 340 refers only to a confinement which is wrongful in the sense of its being ‘illegal’.

Confinement is a form of restraint in which a person is restrained from going beyond certain prescribed limits and it becomes ‘wrongful’ if the restraint is illegal and the person is prevented from going where he has a right to go.

To support a charge of wrongful confinement, proof of actual physical obstruction is not necessary. It is sufficient, if such an impression was produced on the mind of the victim as to create a reasonable apprehension that he was not free to depart and that he would be forthwith restrained, if he attempted to do so.

The mere threat of some future harm in case of departure will not be sufficient if the victim knows that it is open to him to go away and he refrains from doing so. But if the circumstances are such as to justify and create the belief that he cannot depart without being seized immediately, then it would amount to wrongful confinement.

The detention of the person wrongfully confined must be involuntary. He must be unwilling to remain within the circumscribed limits prescribed for him. If he submits, because he must, it is no willingness.

The offence of wrongful confinement is an offence affecting human body and cannot be said to have been committed if a person is not confined himself but the liberty of going in the conveyance in which he wishes to go or taking the article which he wishes to carry and without which he is not willing to proceed is denied to him.

Detention through the exercise of moral force, without the accompaniment of physical force or actual conflict, is sufficient to constitute wrongful confinement.

Malice is not an essential requirement in the offence of wrongful confinement.

The time during which a person is kept in wrongful confinement is immaterial, except with reference to the extent of punishment. Section 343 to 348 deal with aggravated cases of confinement.

Section 340 of the Code defines the offence of ‘wrongful confinement’ which is, as such, punishable under Section 342. Section 342 refers only to a confinement for less than three days only. After the confinement of 3 days, the penalty incurred for the offence is that provided in Section 343.

Section 343 again, is confined to the offence, the duration of which does not exceed ten days, after which a still higher penalty, as provided in Section 344, is incurred, Besides prolonged confinement, there are other circumstances of aggravation, such as confinement of a person for whose liberation a writ has been issued (Sec. 345), or confinement in secret (Sec. 346), or confinement for the purpose of extortion of property (Sec. 347), or a confession (Sec. 348) in which cases the aggravating factors are the same as enhance the penalty ordinarily incurred for causing hurt (Sections 300, 331). The procedure for redress in a case of wrongful confinement will be found set out under Section 342.

Illustrations of Wrongful Confinement:

The following are some of the illustrations of wrongful confinement:

1) In Jay Engineering Works v. State of West Bengal [AIR 1968 Cal. 407] a large number of labourers gheraoed the management staff without giving them freedom to move above and gherao (physical blockade of a target, either by encirclement intended to blockade the ingress or egress from and to a particular office, workplace, etc.) was held to be illegal amounting to the criminal offences of wrongful restraint and wrongful confinement.

2) In Behary Sing v. R [7 W.R. 3], it was held that police officers are empowered to arrest and detain persons in custody for a period of twenty-four hours and any detention beyond that period would, therefore, be necessarily illegal.

3) In State v. Balakrishnan [1992 Cr.LJ 1872 Mad.], the accused was a Police Officer and he arrested the relative of the complainant. The complainant went to Police Station and asked the accused what offence was committed by his relative. The accused ordered the complainant to stand in the corner of the Police Station till late night. He was not allowed to go and seek legal remedies.

The accused contended that the complainant was at liberty to go away from the Police Station. The Court held that the accused committed the offence of wrongful confinement as he used his authority in a wrongful manner.

4) In Shamlal Jairam v. Emperor [4 Bom. LR 79] a head constable detained some persons as suspects for several days. They were not fettered but they were made to stay in a circumscribed limit. Their meals were either brought to them or they were sent under escort to their houses for meals and were brought back. It was held that the head constable was guilty under Section 340.

5) In Bandu Ebrahim v. Ft [(1917) 20 Bom. LR 79] Â brought a woman who was his kept mistress, from Kolhapur, and kept her with C, a brothel-house-keeper in Bombay. On previous occasions also he had supplied women to be used as prostitutes. The woman was made to live as a prostitute in the house, the entrance to which was guarded, and a watch was kept over her movements. On certain occasions only she was allowed to go out under surveillance. Â and Ñ both were guilty under Section 340 of the Code.

6) In Nania Nanuram v. State of MP [1995 Cr.LJ 1870 (MP)] it was observed that where a person was forced to walk under duress in a particular direction, it amounted to an offence of wrongful confinement. An act by which a person is prevented from proceeding in a particular direction is an offence under the section.

Section 342 prescribes punishment for wrongful confinement, which may extend to imprisonment of either description for one year, or fine up to 500 rupees or with both.

This offence is cognizable, but summons should ordinarily issue in the first instance. It is bailable as well as compoundable, and is triable by any Magistrate.

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