The term 'Wrongful Restraint' denotes a willful obstruction of any individual in order to keep that individual from proceeding towards any path in which that individual has to proceed.
According to section 339 of Indian Penal Code, 1860
"Whoever voluntarily obstructs any person so as to prevent that a person from proceeding in any direction in which that person has a right to proceed, is said wrongfully restrain that person".
The objective of section 339 of IPC:
-To protect the liberty of a person.
- Every person has the right to move.
-When the freedom of movement is obstructed by any other man it is an offense of wrongful restraint.
'P' intentionally builds a wall across a path in bad faith where he knows that 'Y' has a right to pass. As a result, 'Y' is prevented from passing the path. Here 'P' has wrongfully restrained 'Y's' right to proceed.
Ingredients of wrongful restraint include:
-Voluntary obstruction of a person.
-The obstruction must be such as to prevent that person from proceeding in any direction in which he has the right to proceed.
-The person concerned must have the right to proceed.
Physical force is not always necessary to obstruct any person. The offense of wrongful restraint can also be committed even by giving threats.
The obstruction of a private way over land or water in which a person in good faith believes himself to have a lawful right to obstruct and is not an offense.
Punishment for wrongful restraint is defined under section 341 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
"Whoever wrongfully restrains any person shall be punished 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".
Wrongful restraint is bailable, cognizable, compoundable offense.
Bailable offense - Police have the authority to release the accused on bail on getting the defined surety amount along with a filed bail at the concerned police station. The otherwise arrested person has to apply for bail before the magistrate or court.
Cognizable offense – Police have the authority to arrest the accused without a warrant and to start an investigation with or without permission of a court.
Compoundable offense – A compromise can be done between the accused and the victim, and trial can be avoided.
Emperor v. Haji Gulam Mahomed Azam on 1 October, 1918[i]
In this case, the accused was the owner of the house; he locked the house which was given on rent, and the tenant was prevented from going in a direction in which he had a right to go. The tenant was wrongfully restrained and had a right within Section 339 and 341 of IPC and
under the provision Section 9 of The Special Relief Act, the tenant has been given rights to protect his possession even against his own landlord.
Madhab Chandra Charchari v. Nalini Manna And Anr, 1963[ii]
The accused Nalini Manna while taking down some luggage from the top of the bus a bundle of Shal leaves accidentally fell on the conductor Madhav. Madhav expressed his annoyance by uttering some abuses against the helper Gunadhar who, Madhav thought, was responsible for dropping the Shal leaves, although it was the passenger to whom the Shal leaves belonged who had in fact been responsible for dropping the load of Shal leaves. In that quarrel accused Nalini Manna and Kalipada Kulavi and several other persons intervened and assaulted the conductor and the helper of the bus after restraining the bus with its passengers from proceeding towards its destination. When the bus had gone only a few yards the accused persons chased the bus in a motor-car and made the bus stop by obstructing its way by putting that motor-car in front of the bus and prevented it from proceeding on the way with the several passengers that were in it. The prosecution alleges that at this stage also the conductor was again assaulted and some damage was done to the bus itself by the accused persons. Only when the passengers on the bus showed their resentment at being wrongfully restrained that way from proceeding in the way they had a right to proceed, that the bus was allowed to continue its journey.
It was held that accused wrongfully restrained the bus and it was held that voluntarily obstructing vehicle in which a person is traveling it was held that respondents are guilty and were responsible for wrongful restraint of the passengers as also the crew of the bus within the definition in section 339 of the IPC.
Shobha Rani v. The King (1950-51 CrLj 668 Cal.)[iii]
In the case, the accused was the landlord of the complainant. The complainant was restricted from using the bathroom by the accused. The complainant had the right to use the bathroom which was violated by the accused and therefore the Court held that the complainant had committed the offense of wrongful restraint under section 339.
Wrongful restraint is not a very serious offense and is punishable with a lesser punishment.
Wrongful restraint is punishable because a person has his rights and Article 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution provide its citizens with the right to freedom of movement and guaranteed personal liberty.