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An Analysis of Constituents of false imprisonment

Authored By- Hemangee Sharma

Keywords- Section 339,340,348 of IPC, Article 21 of Indian Constitution, Plaintiff, Defendant.


False imprisonment can be stated as an act of the defendant which causes unlawful confinement of the plaintiff. Some factors can be used to constitute false imprisonment; first, knowledge of the plaintiff for imprisonment, second, defendant's intention while causing imprisonment, lastly time limit of confinement matters. The article here talks in detail about the analysis of constituents of false imprisonment that what is false imprisonment, its constituents.

What is False Imprisonment

Wrongful imprisonment occurs when a person (who does not have the legal right or justification) intentionally restricts another person from exercising his freedom. When someone intentionally restricts another person’s freedom, he can be found liable for false imprisonment in civil and criminal courts. The factors which constitute false imprisonment are:

1) The probable cause of imprisonment.

2) Plaintiff’s knowledge for imprisonment.

3) The intent of the defendant during imprisonment and confinement period matters.

This is applicable to both private as well as government detention. Legal code constitutes whether the restraint is total or partial, an equivalent is actionable. When the restraint is total and the person is prevented from going out of certain circumscribed limits, the offense is that of ‘wrongful confinement’ as defined in Section 340[i] of IPC. Under Section 339[ii] to 348[iii], the Indian Penal Code punishes wrongful imprisonment. When it comes to the police, proving false imprisonment is sufficient to obtain the writ of Habeas Corpus. It is not mandatory that the person should be put behind bars, but he should be confined in an area from which there are no possible ways of escaping except the person’s will who has confined him. Depending on the laws of a particular jurisdiction, wrongful imprisonment can also be a crime, as well as an intentional tort.

Elements of false imprisonment

Wilful detention

False imprisonment or restraint must be intentional or wilful. Accidentally closing the door when someone is on the other side is not wrongful confinement or false imprisonment. Wilful detention applies to intentional restraint in any form, including physically restraining a person from exiting, physically locking him in a building, room, or from other places, and restraining him from leaving through force or intimidation.

The intention factor

Generally, the tort of imprisonment must be intentional. A person is not liable for false imprisonment unless his or her act is done for the purpose of imposing confinement or with the knowledge that such confinement, to a substantial certainty, will result from it. for this tort, malice is irrelevant. It is ordinarily upon the judges to determine from the evidence, as a question of fact, the intention of the defendant in an action for false imprisonment.

Knowledge of the plaintiff

The detention of another person would have been wrong. There is no requirement that the plaintiff claiming another person for imprisonment was conscious of his restraint on his freedom at the time of his confinement.[iv]

Defences of false imprisonment

The most common defence for imprisonment is that the lack of 1 or more of the above. For example, if the victim agrees to imprisonment, then wrongful imprisonment did not occur. However, there are other defences that can be used to defend a false imprisonment claim. Below are common defences of false imprisonment claims:

Valid Arrest

False arrest claims are not valid if a person was detained due to lawful arrest or due to arrest under the law if they have probable cause to consider a person to have committed a felony, or engaged in wrongdoing. In addition, an individual is often legally detained for arresting a citizen without reason.

Consent to Restraint

A person who consents to be restrained or confined without the presence of fraud or coercion or misconduct cannot subsequently claim to be a victim of imprisonment. Therefore, voluntary consent to imprisonment is usually a defence to imprisonment.[v]


There are main remedies for false imprisonment, which can be classified as follows:

Action for loss

Damages in false imprisonment are those that follow from detention. A person injured by conduct, either knowingly or negligently, is entitled to compensatory damages and has no duty to lessen the gravity of such damages. There is no legal rule for the assessment of damages and it is left entirely to the court. The basis of the damage includes injury and physical pain to the person, mental suffering and humiliation, loss of time earnings and interruptions in occupations, a decrease in medical expenses, injury to reputation, etc.

Nominal and compensatory damages

The general rule in an individual personal tort action is that the plaintiff is entitled to recover an amount that would be just and equitable, justifying an award for exemplary damages in the absence of circumstances.

Punitive, exemplary and aggravated losses

If imprisonment is recklessly affected, extortion, dishonour, libel, and malicious manner, the jury may go beyond the compensation rule and cause exemplary and punitive damages to the defendant as punishment.


False imprisonment maybe because of malicious intent of the defendant or by negligence but the sufferer is the plaintiff, hence while awarding the compensation one must keep in mind about the place of confinement, time of confinement, and force used by the defendant. The above-mentioned considerations will confirm that the aggrieved person gets fair justice.[vi]

False imprisonment also violates Article 21[vii] of the Indian Constitution which includes the right to life and personal liberty. Any person who is wrongfully imprisoned can take legal action against the wrongdoer for the violation of their fundamental right. Under Article 21 we have the fundamental right to move freely, if any person is restraining the fundamental right then he can be sued in a court of law.

References [i] [ii] [iii] [iv] Meering v. Graham White Aviation (1919) 122 LT 44 [v] Robinson vs. Balmin New Ferry Company Ltd [1910] AC 295 [vi] Bhim Singh vs. State of Jammu and Kashmir AIR 1986 SC 494 [vii]