Assault was defined in the case of A.C Cama vs H.F Morgan as “Any gesture calculated to excite in the party threatened a reasonable apprehension that the party threatening intends immediately to offer violence, or in the language of the Indian Penal Code, is ‘about to use criminal force’ to the person threatened, constitute, if coupled with a present ability to carry such intention in execution, an assault in law.”
Section 351 of the IPC mentions assault. It is punishable under Section 352 of the Indian Penal Code with imprisonment for up to three months or a fine of up to Rs. 500, or both.
There are four ingredients of assault:
1) Threat or an attempt to commit corporeal hurt: The assailant makes an attempt or threatens to cause physical harm to someone can be called an attempt to cause corporeal hurt.
Future threats are insufficient in nature in order to constitute the act of assault.
2) Intention: As explained in the case of Tuberville vs Savage, an act of assault consists of an act along with the intention to assault. Hence there has to be an unjustified and deliberate interference with the liberty of a person which leads to the person being caused harm.
3) Reasonable apprehension: The words apprehension and fear are usually confused with each other. Apprehension can be defined as the “awareness that an injury or offensive contact is imminent” as established in the case of Satna Majhi Vs. State of Assam
4) Apparent present ability: The evident ability of the assailant to cause corporeal hurt can be called apparent present ability. Not every threat is an assault as mentioned in the case of Stephen vs Myers as “there should be means of carrying the threat into effect.
EVOLUTION OF ASSAULT
READ V. COKER – The plaintiff was at the defendant’s business when the defendant asked him to leave, but the plaintiff refused. So the defendant and others in the business encircled the plaintiff, rolled up their sleeves, and threatened to break his neck if he didn’t leave. The court ruled that their acts and statements constituted an assault since the defendant reasonably believed something bad would happen to him if he did not leave the business.
BAVISETTI VENKATTA SURYA RAO V. NANDIPATI MUTTAYYA, The plaintiff owed the defendant a specific sum that he was unable to pay. In order to collect the sum, the defendant planned to go to the plaintiff’s residence and sell certain movables. The defendant hired a goldsmith to appraise the worth of gold in the plaintiff’s home, but the person standing nearby at the time of the assessment borrowed the amount from another to provide to the defendant, and when the defendant took the amount, the plaintiff sued him for assault. It was decided that because the defendants said and did nothing following the entrance of the Goldsmith, and the threat of use of force by the Goldsmith to the plaintiff was too remote a possibility to have put the plaintiff in dread of imminent or instant violence, there was no case.
ASSAULT BY MERE WORDS
R v. Constanza – A man was found guilty of assault leading to actual bodily injury to a female ex-colleague. For a time, the man followed the woman home from work, made several silent phone calls, wrote her letters, visited her house without her permission, and scrawled nasty comments on her door. Following these acts, she got two more letters containing threatening language. A doctor quickly diagnosed her with severe depression and anxiety as a result of her perceived dread created by the man’s behaviour and writings.
The Court ruled that even if no physical action is taken, words alone can constitute an assault if they lead the victim to fear immediate harm. Concerning the temporal component of the victim’s fear of violence, the Court decided that it is necessary to establish that the victim feared violence “at some time not excluding the immediate future” for the purposes of demonstrating an assault.
Lord Goff LJ defined battery as “A broader exception has been created … embracing all physical contact which is generally acceptable in the ordinary conduct of daily life. Hence battery can be defined as the actual infliction of unlawful force on another person”.
A Battery is an intentional and direct application of force to another person without their consent. It is defined as the intentional contact or application of force on other persons or things related to the person without his consent with the intent to harm the person. It is only considered when actual physical contact is made without the person’s consent with the intent to harm them. Therefore, assault is battery when it is turned into practise through the application of physical force.
ESSENTIALS OF BATTERY:
1) Intention: The intentions in criminal and civil battery are different. Criminal intent to cause an injury to a person is not required but the intention to perform an act which causes harm to a person is required to establish battery. In battery the intent is transferable, which means if a person is trying to hit another person without his consent but hits a different person that person is still liable for battery hence establishing the intention in battery is extremely essential.
2) Contact: Use of force or Contact is extremely necessary for establishing battery. It is not necessary to establish the contact must be physical or individual in nature even physical contact to with indirect ways it’s considered to be physical contact. Battery does not need body to body contact as an essential because battery can also be performed as a future event.
3) Harm : Physical, emotional and mental damage also is considered as damages for the completion of battery.
4) Lack of Consent: The victim must be unaware of the action which the accused as planned as battery is only committed when the victim is completely unaware of the physical contact which was going to be made.
5) No lawful justification : The complainant has to prove that the force used by the accused was unlawful and was not justifiable.
EVOLUTION OF BATTERY
In COLLINS V WILCOCK, When a police officer was questioning a lady, she grabbed her arm to prevent her from fleeing. The lady scratched the officer and was charged with assaulting a police officer while on duty. It was determined that the policewoman was operating outside of her authority since she lacked the authority to arrest the woman in that scenario and so was acting outside of her duties. Assaulting a police officer in the course of her duties was thus out of the question. It was also ruled that the police officer’s grasping constituted to violence because he lacked the authority to initiate an arrest.
The rationale was that in order to account for the reality of everyday life, a larger exception had to be developed. Consent is a broad defence against battery, and most ordinary physical interactions are not actionable since they are impliedly consented to by everyone who travels through society, exposing themselves to the danger of bodily contact. Although such instances are occasionally seen as examples of implicit consent, they are more commonly interpreted as part of a larger exception that includes any physical contact that is normally permitted in ordinary life. Furthermore, it is thought that expressing the broad underlying concept, subject to a broad exception, is more practical. In each situation, the test must be whether the circumstances of the physical contact have gone beyond generally accepted norms of behaviour; and the answer to that issue will decide whether the act may account for battery or not.
In WILKINSON V. DOWNTON Downton made a joke about plaintiff’s spouse being severely hurt in an accident, which resulted in Wilkinson experiencing major bodily effects, weeks of anguish, and medical treatment. The jury ruled in favour of the plaintiff and awarded her 100 pounds for deliberate infliction of mental shock as well as the cost of her train ticket to see her husband. There was no violence or assault, only a mental shock/distress action.
In SCHLOENDORFF V. SOCIETY OF NEW YORK HOSPITAL, plaintiff was admitted to NY Hospital for treatment of a stomach problem and was diagnosed with a fibroid tumour. For the same, surgery was advised. She adamantly declined but consented to examination under anesthesia during which the doctor conducted surgery to remove the tumour. Later, the plaintiff developed gangrene in her left arm, necessitating the amputation of several of her fingers, and she sued, blaming surgery. It was determined that the procedure to which the plaintiff did not agree constituted medical battery. This does not apply in emergency situations if the patient is unconscious and it is necessary to operate before consent can be acquired.
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