Assault & Battery are used by the people in their everyday life and still are not aware of the two term’s existence. Remember in your school / college days when you would tell your friend that you will punch him but never did OR when you told you were so angry at him that without even a waring you actually punched him? Well, what if I tell that there was assault & battery used without even having the knowledge of it! The interesting fact is that the former is called ‘Assault’ and the latter one is called ‘Battery’.
A threat or an attempt to hurt another person coupled with an apparent physical ability and intention to do the act. Thus, one person threatens to lift up his cane or weapon or fist at another person or strike at him with a stick, his fist, or any other weapon, within striking distance, but miss him. The intention as well as the act makes an assault. The action is said to be complete when the defendant creates an apprehension in the mind of the plaintiff that he is going to commit an act against the plaintiff. For example; presenting a loaded pistol at any one. The victim must reasonably believe that defendant will hurt them, this creates an apprehension or a fear in the mind of a person that something bad or unpleasant may happen. So, if a person has an intention to cause apprehension of imminent harm and succeeds in that, then he said to have committed assault. Assault is also defined under section 351 of the Indian Penal Code as “Whoever makes any gesture, or any preparation intending or knowing it to be likely that such gesture or preparation will cause any person present to apprehend that he who makes that gesture or preparation is about to use criminal force to that person, is said to commit an assault”. In the case of Bavisetti Venkat Surya Rao v. Nandipati Muthayya, the plaintiff owed a certain amount to the defendant which he was unable to pay, so, the defendant in order to collect the amount thought of selling some movables from the plaintiff’s house. A goldsmith to evaluate the value of gold was also called by the defendant. The court held that the defendants only called the goldsmith and evaluated the gold and did nothing, they were not liable for assault.
The aggrieved party can always bring an action to claim damages. If the aggrieved party faces any kind of emotional pain or any kind of mental distress after the apprehension, then, no special request is needed to compensate for such kind of harm, but if the aggrieved party feels uncomfortable to do his job or he requires any kind of psychiatric care, then, the aggrieved party would be awarded both the past as well as future wages.
The intentional and direct application of any physical force by one person towards the other is known as battery. The actual striking of another person, or touching him in a rude, angry, revengeful manner is battery. The most important element in all criminal and civil offenses are intention. Under battery, Contact or use of force is necessary. It is on the part of the aggrieved party to prove that force was used unlawfully and without any justification. Battery starts where assault stops. Battery includes assault. For example; pulling away of a chair when someone is about to sit is an assault, but, the moment that person falls down, then it will be considered as battery. In the case of Stephens v. Myers, the plaintiff was the chairman of a parish meeting and a motion was made that the defendant should be turned out as he was very harsh and loud. The defendant replied that he would rather pull the chairman out and immediately advanced with his fist clenched towards him. The defendant was however stopped by the churchwarden, who sat next to the chairman. According to the witness, it seemed to them that the defendant had an intention to strike the chairman. It was held that for a battery to be claimed, it requires an actual contact with the body of another person by taking a person by the collar etc. since, the defendant had only closed his fist and was moving towards the plaintiff with the intention of hurting him, but was stopped mid-way, it was held for an assault.
Just like assault, the aggrieved party can bring an action for damages. The compensation can be awarded in case of mental distress. The aggrieved party may also be provided with restitutionary remedy where they can reach back to their original position. In case of battery, the aggrieved party can even obtain a temporary restraining order where the other party cannot contact the victim.
In a nutshell, it can be concluded that Assault is the attempt to commit battery, whereas the latter includes intentional application of force by one person to another unlawfully. The main aim of battery is to harm a person physically whereas in case of assault, the main aim is to instill fear in the person. Assault is considered to be an “attempted battery” whereas battery is incomplete without physical harm. According to me, from the above discussions, it can be said that assault by itself can produce psychological damage. In today’s time, when every second person is short-tempered, it is very important that the assault does not become battery otherwise, it will be very difficult to defend oneself and prove innocent. There must be separate laws governing assault & battery along with punishments just like in IPC so that people are made aware of it and take some steps to not commit such ‘crime’.
 Samyukta P. Menon- Battery, Assault and Right of Defence under Torts, Battery, Assault and Right of Defence under Torts – LexForti, visited on 28-07-2021 at 13:38hrs.
 AIR 1964 AP 382.
 (1830) 4 C & P 349 : 34 RR 811.
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