June 19, 2024

By Nimish Ranjan & Sahil

The researchers are first-year law students at National Law University Odisha.

Wikimedia Commons

·False Imprisonment

We already know what the word ‘imprisonment’ stands for.  It literally means to confine a person to a closed space. But have you ever visited a prison to see how prisoners are kept there? You probably had seen the walls surrounding that place and a cage-like gate on the threshold that confines them to remain at the same place for a period of a time and restrains them from moving anywhere outside. So here arrives one question that what false imprisonment actually is.

False Imprisonment is a demonstration culpable under criminal law just as under tort law. Under tort law, it is delegated a deliberate misdeed. When a person presents a demonstration of limitation on someone else that confines that person to a specific area, that person is committing false detainment. The offender tries to bind without the plaintiff’s consent as well as without the rule or power of law. A demonstration of restriction can be an actual obstruction or a boundary (like a locked entryway), the utilization of actual power to control, an inability to deliver, or an invalid utilization of lawful power. A region can possibly be limited assuming opportunity of development which is restricted from every way or directions possible. Assuming if there is a sensible method to get out from that space, then we can say that the region isn’t limited. Be that as it may, assuming the method for getting away from will bring about the danger of actual damage to the prisoner, then at that point, the region is limited. Further, taking steps to hurt the prisoner’s family thinking that the prisoner or the victim will escape or leave would likewise bring about the space being limited. Dangers of a quick actual and threatening power may likewise be adequate to be demonstrations of limitation. A simple danger to detain won’t fit the way to determine false imprisonment. Usually while deciding if a danger was a factor to false imprisonment, the court will check out whether the offended party had a threat of being injured or not.

·Right To Liberty

The Right to Liberty is amongst the most crucial and significant rights that someone can have. The state of being free of harsh constraints imposed by authorities on one’s way of life, behavior, or political ideas within society is defined as liberty. Because it affects the most basic parts of a person’s bodily freedom, it is regarded as one of the most basic human rights. “The right to liberty can be dated back to the English Magna Charta (1215) and the United States Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789).”[1] Regardless of the fact that the Magna Charta only guaranteed rights to a select group of people, primarily feudal noblemen, it stipulated that arrest or detention be legal and protected the individual from the ruler’s injustices. The right to personal liberty, as defined by international human rights treaties, does not provide complete freedom from imprisonment or arrest. Deprivation of liberty is a legal instrument that the government can employ to establish control over those within its jurisdiction. The right to liberty, on the other hand, ensures that any arrest or detention is not arbitrary or unlawful.


·False Imprisonment

One thing to keep in mind is that the officials are bound by law or legitimate authority and can be an offender sometimes. An illustration of an invalid utilization of legitimate authority is the confinement or capture of an individual without a warrant, with an illicit or malicious warrant, or with a warrant unlawfully executed. In as much as the individual is denied of his own freedom, the amount of time confined is unimportant. The essential elements to constitute a False Imprisonment are: 1) Deliberate detention, 2) Without consent, 3) Knowledge of the Plaintiff’s confinement and 4) Without authority of law.

The retailer’s advantage safeguard is one of the agreed-upon safeguards against fraudulent detention. In this case, the offended party was retained by a respondent storekeeper after the litigant agreed that the offended party had taken or was attempting to take anything from the respondent. For this case, the principle of retailer’s advantage mentions that, a businessperson litigant who plausibly believes that the offended party has taken or is making an attempt to take something from the respondent businessperson may keep the offended party in a plausible manner for a reasonable period of time to scrutinize.

In India section 340 talks about false imprisonment as a wrongful confinement which states that

Whoever wrongfully restrains any person in such a manner as to prevent that person from proceedings beyond certain circumscribing limits, is said ‘wrongfully to confine’ that person.”[2]

At the same place false imprisonment is regarded as a very severe form of human rights violation. Although, there are certain remedies available. Talking in an Indian context, there are some remedies available for the plaintiff to use like action for damages, nominal, compensatory, punitive, exemplary, or aggravated damages, writ of habeas corpus etc. The victim can escape the place where he has been detained without any unlawful justification too. The condition here to determine would be the use proportionate force.

·Right To Liberty

“According to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which is the Protection of life and personal liberty, it states that ‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”[3]

Article 21 can only be invoked when a person is deprived of his or her life or personal liberty by the State, as defined in Article 12: “Unless the context otherwise requires, the State includes the Government and Parliament of India and the Government and Legislature of each of the States, as well as all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.”[4] In principle, any restriction of liberty is permissible only if it is carried out according to a procedure prescribed by domestic law and meets the following minimum requirements:

a) Any detained individual must be notified of the reasons for his/her arrest,

b) habeas corpus proceedings can be brought before a court by any individually detained (if the detention is found unlawful then the court must decide and order an immediate release of the individual),

c) any individual detained unlawfully has the right for to compensation, and

d) individuals arrested and detained should be presented before a judge on time, that is, within a few days. They have the right to a quick trial and to be released in exchange for bail or other assurances that they will appear at trial.

Several other rights have evolved over time from the right to life and liberty, such as the crucial ‘Right to Privacy,’ which encompasses a broader scope of protection of humans from exploitation, including the right to a private life free from external unnecessary interferences subject to due process of law, and being free from public view, among others.


·False Imprisonment

Herring v. Boyle[5]

It was alleged that the school master kept the plaintiff’s child in the school for a claim of the last term fees amount and restrained the victim to meet his mother who was the plaintiff here. It was also alleged that the kid was kept there during holidays. Here, the judge remarked that although the boy was forced to stay back in school, since the child was unaware of his confinement and wasn’t protesting against staying there. Hence, the plaintiff lost the suit in this case.

DK Basu v. State of West Bengal[6]

Facts: In this case, the petitioner wrote a letter to be treated as a writ petition case on behalf of the tortured prisoners in jail. In that the inconsistencies were highlighted regarding the arrest of people and the torture endured by them in the prison. Many people were falsely detained and confined.

Judgement: It was held that the arrests and detentions made by the police were arbitrary, inconsistent and against the procedural laws of the land. Peoples Fundamental Rights were being violated in this process namely Article 21 and Article 22 of the Indian Constitution. These articles mention the people’s right against unlawful detention and the right to be informed of their details as to why they are being arrested and detained. Thus, the judgment was given in the petitioners favor and police excesses on false imprisonment was made to put in check.

·Right To Liberty

Schwabe and M.G.  v. Germany (1st December 2011)[7]

In June 2007, two men were detained for more than five days to prevent them from protesting the G8 summit of heads of state and government. The G8 summit was hosted in Heiligendamm, Germany, near Rostock. The Court found that both Article 5 1 (right to liberty and security) and Article 11 (right to equal protection under the law) had been violated (freedom of assembly and association).

Justice K.S.Puttaswamy (Retired). vs Union of India and Ors., 2017.[8]

Brief facts: In 2012, Judge K.S. Puttaswamy (ex-high court judge) filed a petition in the Supreme Court before a bench consisting of nine-judges, questioning Aadhaar’s constitutionality on the grounds that it infringes on the right to privacy. It was established following a request from the Constitution Bench to determine whether or not the right to privacy was guaranteed as an independent fundamental right under the Indian constitution following previous Supreme Court decisions.

Judgement: According to the judgement, privacy would be an integral part of Part 3 of the Indian Constitution, which lays out people’s fundamental rights. The Supreme Court further stated that the state must find a careful balance between individual privacy and the legitimate objective at all costs, because basic rights cannot be granted or taken away by legislation, and all laws and activities must be constitutionally compliant. The Court also noted that privacy is not an absolute right, and that any invasion of privacy by a state or non-state actor must pass the triple test, which comprises 1) a legitimate objective, 2) proportionality, and 3) legality.


False Imprisonment and Right to Liberty go almost hand in hand and are not exclusive to each other. In the Law of Torts arena, this topic is very crucial in understanding the Rights conferred to the people in case they are falsely confined, imprisoned or locked. Any person who was falsely imprisoned should know what legal remedy that person has and enforce it. A person cannot be deprived to his/her right to liberty under any circumstances except for due process of law. They must be informed of their arrests with valid proof and evidences and cannot be arrested by any state authorities arbitrarily without any justification. A person can enforce his/her right to liberty in cases where they feel they are being unjustly deprived of their rights. Several progressive legislations and developments have been happening in this area for the benefit of the people so that no one’s right is lost due to malicious intentions of anybody be it private individuals/bodies/corporations or any public servant/authority. This area will also keep developing over the passage of time and the situation and assessment of cases will vary according to the specific conditions of that case and time.

[1] Icelandic Human Rights Centre.

[2] Indian Penal Code 1860, s 340.

[3] Constitution Of India, Art 21.

[4] Ibid, Art 12.

[5] Herring v Boyle 1834 Heinonline 1 C. M. & R. 377.

[6] D.K. Basu v State of W.B. AIR 1997 SC 610.

[7] Schwabe and M.G. v. Germany ECHR 269 (2011).

[8] Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 of 2012, (2017) 10 SCC 1.

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