Section 340 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!
Within the circumscribing limits there may be a free and uncurtailed movement but not beyond that in any direction. The two illustrations given in the section show that the mode of confining may be different and is of no importance at all. The only thing that is of importance is that the wrongful restraint must be total, in all directions and not in some directions only.
In other words, the crime of wrongful confinement is that kind of wrongful restraint where the restraint is total and the victim is not allowed to proceed in any direction beyond a circumscribing limit. The language of this section shows that the crime of wrongful confinement is defined with the help of another crime, wrongful restraint.
There must be a total curtailment of liberty of movement, and if an escape route is open it cannot be a case of wrongful confinement. This crime is similar to the tort of false imprisonment. Proof of actual physical obstruction may not be essential to this offence but there must exist an impression in the mind of the victim that he was not free to depart from the place and if he ever attempted to do so, he would be restrained forthwith. The period of confinement is of no consequence as far as the question of liability is concerned; it may be relevant while awarding a sentence.
Where the accused lived in a town where reasonable medical facilities existed and he kept his own brother in heavy chains as he was subject to intermittent insanity, it was held that he was guilty of committing wrongful confinement. Where the accused police officer arrested and detained a person in a thana in spite of the production of a bail order from a court, this offence was held to have been committed.
Where the main accused brought his mistress from a place and gave her under the charge of the other accused with a view to force her into prostitution, and he had supplied women before also for this purpose, and the mistress was forced to live as a prostitute and was constantly under surveillance, it was held that both the accused had committed wrongful confinement.
Where a married woman left her husband’s home and came to stay with her parents and said so in course of a habeas corpus petition by the husband, the parents could not be held guilty of committing wrongful confinement. Where the accused, a police constable, detained some persons as suspects for several days during which they were fed with food being brought from outside or they were sent to their home under escort and brought back after meals, it was held that the offence of wrongful confinement had been committed even though they had never been fettered.
Where a police officer went to another town and after making diligent inquiries arrested the complainant in good faith in connection with a crime, he could not be held to be guilty of committing this offence as he was protected by section 76 of the Indian Penal Code.
Where a woman was physically lifted and taken to another place and kept there for the day, if was held that this offence had been committed. A woman was married to the first appellant but was turned out by the husband after a few days, and after a few years her father again married her to another man with whom she had been living for many years.
After the death of her father, the first husband managed to bring her by force with the help of others to show her as his wife with a view to usurp the land and other property which she inherited after her father’s death. The first appellant was held guilty under section 365, while the others were held liable for wrongful confinement under section 342 read with section 149. All were also held guilty of rioting as well as under section 452 for house- trespass read with section 149 of the Code.
Where certain officers visited the house of the accused for making some inquiry under the Money Lenders Act and they were not allowed to go out of the house for some time but there was no apprehension in their mind about use of force in case of attempt to go out, it was held that the accused had not committed the offence of wrongful confinement.
In Naniya Nanuram v. State of M.P. a person was forced to walk in a particular direction under duress. It was held that this amounts to wrongful confinement.