Self Defence in Pakistan

The right of self-defense in Pakistan (or private defense in Pakistan) gives every citizen not only the right to defend themselves but others, as well as their property. The right to self-defence in Pakistan is given to everyone, but to what extent? and in which circumstances?

In this article, we will discuss the laws around self-defence (known in Pakistani Law as the right of Private defence), and how far it extends, as well as what criminal lawyers in Pakistan consider when pleading grounds of self-defense.

Right to Private Defence and Self Defence in Pakistan (Self Defense and Private Defense in Pakistan)
The Holy Quran Quote – Chapter 22 (Surat Al-Hajj, The Pilgrimage) Verse 39:- “Permission to fight back is hereby granted to those being fought, for they have been wronged. And Allah is truly Most Capable of helping them prevail.

No man is expected, when he is attacked by criminals, to flee away

1972 PCrLJ 661

Right to Private Defence in Pakistan

Private Defense and Self Defence, by virtue of nature, would be considered to be the “last resort” right for anyone to exercise. This right is available when no other option is available for an individual to safeguard themselves or their property.

Where imminent danger to life is anticipated, one can even be acquitted for murder, but these are exceptional circumstances, which would be tried in a court of law. A consideration factor in such instances would be the use of reasonable force.

Right of Private Defence in section 97 provides that every person has a right to defend his own body and the body of any other person against any offence affecting the human body and also any moveable or immoveable property belonging to himself or any other person, against any act of theft, robbery, mischief or criminal trespass or an attempt to do so.

2004 PCrLJ 942

Private Defence to prevent crime

If a crime is being committed, we all have the right to conduct a citizen’s arrest, providing that we can execute this in a safe manner. Remember, your safety is of paramount importance, so when faced with this decision, always ensure to be aware of your surroundings and situation.

When detaining an individual alleged to of committing a crime, it is vital that he/she/they are handed over to the relevant authorities as soon as possible. Any injuries sustained by the alleged culprits during this detainment may be covered as an act of Private defense.

Once the right of self defense is established, same cannot be defeated lightly but at the same time the force used must be in proportion to the injury averted, and must not be implied for the gratification of vindictiveness or malicious feelings

1992 SCMR 1983

Self Defence laws in Pakistan

This law is covered in Pakistan’s Penal Code, under sections dafa 96-106. These laws allow people to protect themselves, other people, and protect their property.

Private defense can only be claimed by the respondent to an incident, and not by the individual;/s instigating the action/s that lead to an issue where self-defense became necessary.

Where the plea of self-defense is pressed into service it is to be shown as to who was the aggressor, by whom the fight was initiated by and whether the party by whom the plea of self-defence is introduced sustained any injury from the hands of the aggressor and in retaliation what was the degree of violence used

PLD 2002 SC 92

Prevention of injury and assault

When people are involved in a physical altercation, the legal fact-finding goes into the instigation of the assault. Therefore, when an individual feels like they, or someone else, is about to get injured, they may take action to control the situation, but not to go beyond controlling the situation.

For example, if an unarmed individual becomes violent, the law would consider the action of physically detaining the said individual reasonable. If, however, excessive force is deemed to have been used (by assaulting the individual) then grounds of private defence would be hard to justify.

Right of private defense of the body would extend to the voluntary causing of death [homocide] of assailant, if assailant would launch an assault, which could give reasonable cause to the apprehension that grevious hurt would be the consequence of such an assault

2014 YLR 1060

Use of reasonable force

As such, there is no accurate or fixed way of measuring the use of reasonable force. In cases where Private Defense or Self Defence is pleaded, circumstantial evidence would be taken into account.

Reasonable force would be deemed to be the amount of force needed (or required) to neutralize the threat of harm. In the event of an assault or detaining a thief, it would be difficult to justify homicide, until and unless a case of an imminent threat to life could be established.

Right of private defence can be used as a shield to ward off unwarranted attack to person or property, to avert any attack, but cannot be used as a device for provoking an attack. Right of defense is a preventive measure only and cannot be adopted for retaliation.

2000 YLR 2976

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