False imprisonment primarily falls under the ambit of trespass to a person. Trespass to a person is wrong done to a person, a tort committed upon a Person .Eminent jurists have put forward the definitions of false Imprisonment as given below :

According to WINFIELD :” Infliction of bodily restraint which is not Expressly or impliedly authorized by the law”.

According to BLACK STONE :” Every confinement of the person is an Imprisonment ,whether it be in a common prison , or in a private house , Or in the stocks ,or even by forcibly detaining one in the public street”.

False imprisonment means total restraint Or deprivation of the liberty of a person without lawful justification . The Duration of the time is immaterial  it may be brief or over a great length of Time. Only the act of an unlawful arrest is enough to hold a person liable for

e.g., the situation where robbers break into a bank and by force ,take the banks

Customers and employees as hostage .

The essentials required to constitute the wrong are:

(1)  Restraint must be total or complete in nature .

(2)  Confinement must be take place without a lawful justification .

(3)  Knowledge of the plaintiff.


Imposition of total restraint is necessary on a person’s liberty to constitute false Imprisonment .by complete restraint , the objective highlighted upon is that the person detained must not have any means available to escape the same . He should not have the scope to get out of his place of arrest . If a man is

Prevented from going to a particular  direction but is allowed to go back.

There is no false imprisonment .

                                                   But under criminal law when, the restraint Is not total but it is only partial ,and a person is prevented merely from going To a particular direction where he has a right to go , it is ‘ wrongful restraint’ According to section 339 ,I.P.C. or when the restraint is total and a person is Prevented  from going  , out of certain limits the offence is that of  ‘Wrongful Confinement’ defined section 340, I.P.C.

  • If there are means of escape the restraint cannot be termed as total and that does not constitute false imprisonment.

CASE LAW: Bird v. Jones,(1845) 7 Q.B. 742

FACT –  Bird, wished to cross a section of a public road which was closed off due to a boat race. Two policemen, D, prevented him from passing in the direction he wished to go, but was allowed to go in the only other diction in which he could pass. He refused to go in that direction and stood in the same place. He raised an action against D for false imprisonment

ISSUE– Bird claimed that the exclusion from using a section of the public road which prohibited him from moving in one direction, despite all other directions remaining unobstructed, constituted false imprisonment.

JUDGEMENT– It was held that there was no false imprisonment as there was no total restraint on the plaintiff’s liberty’s there was still one direction which he could take, he could not be said to have been imprisoned as he was not confined and prevented from passing or leaving that place. He was at liberty to move off in another direction and no restraint or actual force was used against him.


CASE LAW :Ram Pyare Lal v. Om Prakash and Ors.,1977criLJ 1984,ILR 1977 Delhi 549

FACTThe plaintiff is a practicing Advocate since 1923. In 1948 a First Information Report  was lodged . The information was primarily directed against one Gurbax Singh and it appears that the plaintiff was suspected to be involved in the Case. Eventually, on 14th April, 1950 the plaintiff was discharged by a First Class Magistrate. Name of the plaintiff continued to be

 Om Prakash, defendant was in charge of  that police station arrest the plaintiff from the court .

ISSUE– The plaintiff instituted the suit on the allegations that he had been arrested unlawfully and falsely without any legal justification and that the defendants had committed the tort of false imprisonment.

JUDGEMENT -The court below has awarded to the plaintiff a sum of Rs. 12,500.00 being fifty per cent of the claim.

Defendant , did not care to verify the entries or the assertion of the plaintiff before causing his arrest, while the Police Officers could, if they so liked, keep a watch on movement of the plaintiff and arrest him if they were satisfied that he was really a proclaimed offender or he had not been discharged as was claimed by him. But the Officers persisted in immediately arresting the plaintiff and that too from the court premises soon after lunch. The Police Officer at the time of arrest observed that the plaintiff was a proclaimed offender. This itself would cause loss of reputation of the plaintiff, he was totally restraint by the act of the defendant.


The detention must not have a solid legal justification or any rational logic

Behind it, it should be entirely unlawful. If there is the presence of a reasonable

Cause for the detainment, then the arrest shall not amount to false imprisonment.

CASE LAW: Bhim Singh vs. State of Jammu and Kashmir, AIR 1986 SC 494

FACTSThe petitioner, MLA of J&K was to participate in the Assembly meeting. His opponents in order to prevent him from attending the Assembly session got him arrested wrongfully with the help of some executives and police. The Magistrate also granted remand to police without compliance of the mandatory requirement of production of the accused in the Magistrate’s Court before remanding him to police custody. He was released after the Assembly session got over.

JUDGEMENT The Supreme Court held the State liable for wrongful arrest and detention of the petitioner and ordered a compensation of Rs. 50,000 to be paid to the petitioner. His detention was unlawful and his right to attend the assembly was infringing by the act of defendant .

CASE LAW:  Rudal shah v. state of Bihar, A.I.R. 1983 SC 1086

FACTThe petitioner was acquittal by court in 1986 but was released from

The jail in 1982, 14 years thereafter.

ISSUEThe state claimed that the detention was for medical treatment of the petitioner.

JUDGEMENTThe plea was rejected an ancillary relief in  writ of habeas corpus by the petitioner a sum of Rs. 35,000 was granted as a compensation by the supreme court .

CASE LAW: Garikipati Ramayya v. Araza Biksham ,AIR 1979 AP 31

FACT- The plaintiffs are ryots of Penumalli village. The defendant’s son Purushottam is the Sarpanch of the village and the plaintiffs belonged to the opposition party of the Gram Panchayat. The defendant owns a rice mill. Mill caught fire and was burnt on the   1997.the defendant brought the Sub inspector and  got the plaintiffs arrested and taken to Police Station and confined in the station lock up. The defendant gave a report written by his son alleging that he saw the plaintiff in his mill promises instigating and aiding one Adapa Biksham to set fire to the mill.

                                   The plaintiffs moved for bail, but the defendant opposed the applicator and the bail was refused they were however released on bail. They were however released on bail by orders of the Sessions Judge. 

ISSUE- charge sheet was laid only against Adapa Biksham. Thus the defendants caused the arrest and wrongful confinement and imprisonment maliciously and without any lawful excuse or justification.

JUDGEMENT – It was said that it is sufficient if he proves that false imprisonment was caused by the defendant and if the act of the defendant did not establish sufficient justification. Plaintiff suffered disgrace humiliation, physical discomfort and mental suffering due the mere circumstance that the defendant gave a false report to police. So he held Liable for the false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.


This essential is deciphered in two possible ways and differs from case to

 Case. In some cases, the judges have held that the person detained or

Wrongfully arrested must have the knowledge of the same. If he does not know

That he has been held wrongfully during the tenure of his arrest, it shall not

Amount to false Imprisonment.

CASE LAW : Herring vs. Boyle, (1884) 91 Cr. M. And R. 377.

FACTA schoolmaster wrongfully refused to permit a school boy to go with his mother unless the mother paid an amount alleged to be due from him. The conversation between the mother and schoolmaster was held in the absence of the boy.

JUDGEMENTThe case was held not to be a case of false imprisonment as the boy was not cognizant of his restraint that is he did not know or was not aware of the fact that he was under detention.

CASE LAW : Meering v. Grahame-white Aviation Co., (1920) 121 L. T. 44

FACTplaintiff, an employee of the defendant company on the suspicion of stealing goods was made to wait in the waiting room. The reason given to him was that he would be investigated about the theft of goods that have happened in the Office. The police which came later arrested the man. On his release, he filed a suit for false imprisonment against the defendant.

JUDGEMENT False imprisonment was held in spite of the fact that the plaintiff was aware of his arrest unlike in the above case. According to Atkin, L. J. It appears to me that a person could be imprisoned without his knowledge. A person can be imprisoned while he is asleep, while he is in a state of darkness, while he is unconscious and while he is lunatic


The defendant in order to negate the imposition of liability for causing false

Imprisonment must prove before the Court that the confinement done by him

Another was not unlawful or unjustified. Substantive reasons must be provided

To establish the imprisonment. The following are some of the defaces that are

Available to the defendant against to prevent liability under this tort:-

1. Volenti nonfit injuria:

Consent of the opposite party is also an effective defence in the case of false

Imprisonment. This statement signifies that if the plaintiff gives his own consent

Freely without any external influence to the curtailment of his own liberty, the

 Defendant causing it shall not be held liable for the tort of false imprisonment.

CASE LAW :Herd v. Weardale Steel, Coal and Coke Co Ltd., (1915) A.C. 67

FACTThe plaintiff, a mine-worker descended a coal mine at 9:30am for work. He had a right to be lifted to the surface after his shift that would get over at 4pm. During work, he refused to do a certain task given to him and asked to be lifted at 11am. His employer declined to do so.

JUDGEMENTThough the plaintiff was detained inside the coal mine against his will, it did not amount to false imprisonment since by the contract of service, the plaintiff had given his consent to or agreed to abide by the conditions on which he could go out of the mine. Since his contract of service stated 4pm as the time when he would come out of the mine, he was not detained wrongfully.

CASE LAW :Burns vs. Johnston,(1917) 2 Ireland 137

FACTThe defendant refused to unlock the factory gates to allow the workman to leave before completion of his working hours

JUDGEMENTFalse imprisonment was not held as the workman had consented to the same.

2. Lawful imprisonment:

If it can be proved well beyond doubt, the burden of which falls on the

Defendant that the person was confined for a lawful cause, the complaint of

False imprisonment shall fail.

CASE LAW :Robinson Balmain vs. New Ferry Co. Ltd. , (1910) AC 295

FACT– The plaintiff entered the defendant’s wharf by paying entry fee in order to go across the river by one of the defendant’s boats. On returning there, he found that the boat had already left. He wanted to go out of the wharf. To go out, according to the rules, he was to pay again. The defendant did not permit him to go out until he paid the fee.

JUDGEMENT The defendants were not liable for false imprisonment as the reason for detaining him was lawful and the fee was also reasonable.

3. Partial Restraint:

If the restraint imposed was not complete or total restraint providing the  Plaintiff with the opportunity and scope to escape that is if restraint is partial in  Nature, false imprisonment will not come into effect.

CASE LAW: Bird v. Jones,(1845) 7 Q.B. 742

4. Contributory Negligence:

When the plaintiff commits any act which amounts to contributory negligence,  The defendant can plead the defence of contributory negligence.

5. Arrest by Public Authority:

Where the defendant apprehends any breach of peace or any disturbance of  Public tranquility from the plaintiff, he may be kept under preventive detention  By the public authorities. Police and other law enforcement agencies quite Often invoke this measure for maintenance of public peace.

                       Section 41(1) of the Criminal code of Procedure of India provides  That a police officer may arrest a person “who has been concerned in any  Cognizable offence, or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or Credible information has been received or a reasonable suspicion exists of

 Having been so concerned. In the interest of establishing peace in society,  Certain authorities are empowered to detain certain class of people to prevent  Danger to peace in the society in certain situations; it shall not lead to false  Imprisonment. 

                            The above statement highlights that if a person who as Observed by the defendant in all probability shall or is going to create public  Chaos or disturbance by way of his actions, the defendant is empowered t

 hold him under detainment. Charges of false imprisonment shall fail in this


CASE LAW: Dailison v. Lafrey, (1911) AC 29

FACTSThe plaintiff was arrested by the police for committing theft. According to the information received by the police, he was identified while committing theft.

JUDGEMENTThe plaintiff’s arrest was held lawful.

6. Assisting the Police:

Where the defendant was assisting the police in apprehending the offender and

 Arrests a person in order to prevent his escape. The defendant in this case aids

 The police and hence is not liable.

7. Judicial Authority:

An arrest or detention of a person by a judicial authority in exercise of its

 Judicial power is justified in law and the authority ordering the arrest shall

 Not be liable.The Judicial Officers Protection Act of 1850 states- No suit

 Will lie against a judicial officer for false imprisonment or for any other tort

 Or acts committed by him in his judicial capacity believing in good faith that

He was acting within his jurisdiction.

                                                   However, no arrest or detention should be

Ordered without a reasonable satisfaction reached by the Court after some

Preliminary inquiry as to the genuineness and bona fides of the

CASE LAW: Abdul Wahid vs. Tribhuwan Pati, AIR 1974 All 304

FACTSThe revenue officer arrested the plaintiff and took him to the Tahsil because he had not paid arrears of land revenue and detained him for some time.

JUDGEMENTFalse imprisonment was observed as the revenue authorities had no power to arrest the plaintiff without a warrant. Hence, in absence of a warrant, the revenue authorities superseded their authority.



There are three main remedies that a plaintiff can avail of against the defendant

 In an action for the tort of false imprisonment.

1. Self Help:

By using reasonable and proportionate force, the plaintiff who is held under

Captivity can make attempts to free himself or herself. This is a type of extra-

Judicial remedy that is a sort of remedy that can be brought into use without

Approaching the Court of law. The use of unreasonable violence in the name of

Self-help shall not be held justified; it should be in accordance with the threat or

Force used by the defendant on the plaintiff.

2. Writ of Habeas Corpus:

This remedy, considered to be the most appropriate in this kind of a tort is a

Form of legal remedy. The plaintiff can seek for the issue of the writ of habeas

Corpus under Article 32 of the Supreme Court of India and Article 226 of the

High Court of India. This writ lays down that if a person has allegedly put under

Confinement a person unlawfully of without a just reason or falsely, that person

 Must produce before the court the imprisoned or detained person. Following

The presentation of the detained person in the Court, the Court shall decide

Whether the imprisonment is unlawful or not. If the arrest made is found to be

Unlawful and unreasonable, the defendant will be made liable for false


3. Action for Damages:

Damages as claimed under this tort are to be assessed only during the time of

Confinement. This means that damages caused to a person post the confinement

Period cannot be granted as a remedy, but for all the injuries and damages that a

Person has suffered while he was kept arrested unlawfully, the victim can plead

Grant of damages. A person who has been falsely imprisoned can claim

Damages which may include damage for mental


  • Nominal Damages:

In case of false imprisonment, where the events involve no any exceptional

Harm done, calls for grant of nominal damages especially in cases where the

Detained was unaware of his confinement.

  • Compensatory Damages:

In case of severe mental agony and sufferings like extreme fright, shame and

 Disgrace, the court awards the above.

  • Punitive Damages:

When false imprisonment is recklessly caused to violate human by Limiting or

Restricting the movement of people. This Method of making the Defendant

 Compensate higher is with an aim To deter further actions of this Kind.

  • Exemplary Damages:

Such damages are given when the false imprisonment caused is of an

Exceptional nature like when State’s authorities are the offenders. Presence of

 Malice is an important factor to decide whether punitive or exemplary damages

 Are to be awarded instead of nominal or compensatory damages. Hence, if the

 Facts of The Case can establish existence of malice or evil motive behind

 Imprisoning a Person falsely, damages of the punitive and exemplary kind shall

 Be awarded to the Plaintiff

CASE LAW: Sebastian Hongray v. Union Of India , 1984 SCR (3) 544

FACTIn the Sebastian Hongray case, two persons were taken into custody by the Army authority in Manipur, but were not produced in obedience to a writ of habeas corpus and it was alleged that those persons must have met an unnatural death while in army custody.

JUDGEMENTThe Supreme Court directed the Union of India to pay exemplary damages for the role of the army authorities in murdering the two persons.


After analyzing the constituents of false imprisonment, we come to a conclusion

 That- false imprisonment may be because of malicious intention of the

Defendant or by negligence, but the sufferer is the plaintiff, hence while

Awarding the compensation, the period of confinement, place of confinement

 And the force used by the defendant should be considered. These above

 Mentioned considerations will make sure that, the plaintiff or the aggrieved

 Party gets complete justice. False imprisonment shall be said to have occurred

 When a human being is detained by another in the absence of the former’s

 Consent or any prevailing authorization or justification in the eyes of law.

                               False imprisonment also can be related to the article 21 of  The Indian Constitution, which talks about Right to Life and Personal Liberty. Any person, who is wrongly imprisoned, can take legal action against  The wrongdoer for breach of Fundamental Rights. Personal Liberty gives  A fundamental right to every citizen of India to move freely.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.


Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at secondinnings.hr@gmail.com

In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.