A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said the injury which is inflicted by a person exercising the right should be commensurate with the injury with which he is threatened.
"Right of private defence cannot be used to do away with a wrong doer unless the person concerned has a reasonable cause to fear that otherwise death or grievous hurt might ensue in which case that person would have full measure of the right to private defence.
"The right given under (IPC) sections 96 to 98 and 100 to 106 is controlled by Section 99. To plead a right of private defence extending to voluntary causing of death, the accused must show that there were circumstances giving rise to reasonable grounds for apprehending that either death or grievous hurt would be caused to him," said Justice Radhakrishnan, writing the judgement for the bench.
The apex court gave the ruling while disposing of an appeal by one Arjun who had challenged his conviction by the trial court for a murder with the Bombay High Court affirming it.
"Section 99 of the IPC explains that the injury which is inflicted by a person exercising the right should be commensurate with the injury with which he is threatened.
"True, that the accused need not prove the existence of the right of private defence beyond reasonable doubt and it is enough for him to show as in a civil case that preponderance of probabilities is in favour of his plea," the court said.
New Delhi: A person can kill one under the right of self-defence only on reasonable apprehensions of threat to his own life from the offender, the Supreme Court has ruled.
First Published: Friday, June 15, 2012, 20:19