According to articles 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution, every person has the right to travel freely throughout the country. The Indian Penal Code outlines criminal penalties for anyone who violates another person’s right to freedom of movement or personal liberty in order to protect that person’s right to liberty from being taken away from them by another person or group. A wrongful conduct is one that results in a civil wrong that is harmful, careless, unjust, illegal, unauthorised, or irresponsible.

unlawful confinement and unlawful restraint are each defined in Sections 339 and 340 of the Indian Penal Code, respectively. Despite their apparent similarity, these two offences must be understood properly. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 makes both offences punishable under section 339 to 348

Wrongful restraint

According to Section 339 of the Indian Penal Code; “Whoever voluntarily obstructs any person so as to prevent that person from proceeding in any direction in which that person has a right to proceed, is said wrongfully to restrain that person.”The clause also specifies an exception, according to which obstruction of a private route over land or water by someone who honestly believes they have a legal right to do so is not considered unjust restraint.

Necessary ingredients

  • voluntarily and purposely obstructing a person from passing.
  • The obstruction or blockage is not in good faith.
  • The obstruction prevents the person from proceeding in any direction.
  • The person must have a right to move or proceed in the direction in which he wants to proceed.

Punishment for wrongful restraint

The punishment against the wrongdoers under section 339 have been imposed in section 341 of the Indian penal code. The offence is cognizable, triable, bailable by any magistrate and compoundable by the person who has been restrained. The punishment includes-

  • imprisonment for a term extending to one month or
  • Fine extending to five hundred rupees.
  • Or both above punishments.

Case where the accused was guilty

In the case of Shobha Rani vs. The King  the landlord was accused of stopping his tenant from using the washroom. By preventing the tenant from using something that he had the legal right to use, the landlord had committed wrongful restraint under Section 339.

Case where the accused was not guilty

In the case of Shankarlal Sarma (Bhatra) vs State of Assam And Another  on 4 March 1975

Facts: There was one common Ejmali passage among a few brothers where their vehicles would come and go. There was also a garage where their vehicles were parked. The complainant had parked his Fiat car inside the garage. Shankarlal Sharma, the complainant’s elder brother (the petitioner) parked his car in front by blocking the passage. As a result of which, the complainant was obstructed to take out his car from there.

Issue: if any offence under Section 339 of the Indian Penal Code had been committed by the petitioner here.

Judgment: The court held that the Ejmali passage was a common passage to be used by the brothers and not a private passage. Therefore, the petitioner who parked his vehicle in the passage believed it to be done in good faith, he also had a lawful right to do so. Hence, they have not obstructed anyone’s private way or prevented anybody from passing. This comes under the exceptions of Section 339. Thus, he cannot be held guilty under wrongful restraint.

Wrongful Confinement

According to Section 340 of the Indian Penal Code;“Whoever wrongfully restrains any person in such a manner as to prevent that person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits is said to have committed the offence of wrongful confinement.”


Wrongful confinement cannot be committed when a desire or wish to proceed has never existed, nor can a confinement be wrongful if it were consented to by the person affected, insistence by words of mouth or mere sitting around a person would not satisfy the requirements of the offense of wrongful confinement.


Under section 342 of the Indian penal code, punishment for wrongful confinement includes imprisonment which may either extend to a year, a fine of Rs.1000 or both.

Case law

The case of Emperor vs Bandu Ebrahim And Anr. on 11 September 1917

Facts of the case:

Accused No.1- pimp in the brothel, Accused No. 2 – brothel keeper in Bombay.

The complainant, Vithibai, was confined by the accused in the brothel. She was restrained to go anywhere. There were also guards at the door to prevent her along with other females from going out. The defence argued that Vithibai had voluntarily, given consent and submitted herself into prostitution, voluntarily came to Bombay with him.

After looking at the facts and evidence of the case, the court found that both the accused were guilty under Section 343 for wrongful confinement of the Indian Penal Code. And both will be sentenced for one-year rigorous imprisonment

Type of Wrongful Confinement:

There are six types of wrongful confinement as mentioned in the Indian Penal Code:

  1. Wrongful confinement for three or more days – Section 343
  2. Wrongful confinement for ten or more days – Section 344
  3. Wrongful confinement of person who’s liberation writ has been issued – Section 345
  4. Wrongful confinement in secret – Section 346
  5. Wrongful confinement to extort property, or restrain illegal act- Section 347
  6. Wrongful confinement to extort confession, or compel restoration of property – Section 348.

Wrongful confinement is a serious offense as it violates the Right to Liberty under the Right of movement, and since the Right to Liberty is a fundamental right, it is considered to be a harsh offense.

Where wrongful restraint can be comprehended as restraint of life, which confirms restriction on an individual’s movement, wrongful confinement can be understood as a circle as it includes several types.

Adv. Khanak Sharma(D/1710/2023)

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