The SC has held that a mere reasonable apprehension of danger to life is enough to put the right of self-defence into operation and it is not necessary that there should be an actual commission of the offence in order to give rise to the right of private defence.
A SC bench made this observation in the case of Suresh Singhal vs. State wherein Suresh Singhal was accused of murder under section 304 of IPC. The court partly allowed the appeal by acquitting Singhal of the murder charges instead of convicting him under Section 304 IPC.
The court observed that the deceased and others were attempting to strangulate the appellant and it would have been unrealistic to expect the appellant to take defensive measures without crossing any law.
The court further stated that, a person who is in reasonable danger of losing his life or limb, may in exercise of self-defence, can cause any harm, even extending to death on his attacker either when the assault is attempted or upon being directly threatened.
The court was of the view that, though Suresh Singhal had exceeded the power given to him by law in order to defend himself, but the exercise of the right by him was in good faith and without any premeditation. Thus, in such a situation, it would be unrealistic to expect the appellant to calmly assess who would have the upper hand before exercising his right of private defence.


The SC ruling in the present matter is definitely justified that when a person has even the slightest fear of loss of life and limb, he can take any step in order to protect himself as well as his near and dear ones. In such circumstances, the mental faculty of a person cannot be expected to run in a judicious manner. Hence, this judgment will serve as a useful precedent in cases where a person’s right to self defence happens to be questioned.