False imprisonment under the law of torts



False imprisonment happens when a person (who has no legal right or justification) deliberately prevents another person from exercising his or her liberty. Therefore, it is the total restraint of liberty of another person with such intention of the defendant and carried out without the consent of the plaintiff without any lawful exercise.

Factors that constitute false imprisonment are:

  1. The probable cause of imprisonment
  2. Plaintiff’s knowledge for imprisonment
  3. The intent of the defendant during the imprisonment and confinement period matters

Charges of False imprisonment can be against both private and government detention. The same may be done under criminal law, whether the restraint is absolute or partial. Where there is absolute restriction and the individual is prevented from leaving those limits, the offense is that of ‘wrong confinement,’ as specified in Section 340 of the IPC.

Under this, the Indian Penal Code punishes for wrongful imprisonment. Parts 339 to 348.

When it comes to police, evidence of false imprisonment is necessary to secure the writ of Habeas Corpus. It is not compulsory for the person to be placed behind the bars, but to be confined to an environment from which there is no possible means of escape, except the will of the person who has confined him.


There are certain criteria that are necessary to be fulfilled for the charges of false imprisonment to be applicable.

  1. Deliberate detention
  2. The factor of intent
  3. Plaintiff’s knowledge
  1. Deliberate detention: False imprisonment or restriction must be deliberate or intentional. Closing the door unintentionally when someone is on the other side is not unjust imprisonment or false incarceration. Wilful detention shall extend to deliberate restraint of any manner, including by physically restraining a person from leaving, physically locking him or her in a house, room, or other location, and by restraining him or her from leaving by force or intimidation.
  2. The factor of intent: Generally, the wrong of false imprisonment must be deliberate. An individual shall not be liable for false imprisonment unless his or her act is carried out with a view to enforcing a containment or knowing that such containment would result in substantial certainty. Malice is irrelevant to this wrong.  It is ordinarily up to the judges to decide, on the basis of the facts, as a matter of fact, the motive of the defendant in an action for false imprisonment.
  3. Plaintiff’s knowledge: There is no provision that the complainant, claiming false imprisonment, was aware of the limitation on his liberty at the time of his arrest. For instance, in the case of Meering v. Graham White Aviation, The claimant was asked to go to a room with two work policemen from the Aviation company. He asked why and stated he would leave if not told. When told it was on suspicion of theft he agreed to stay, and the work’s police stood outside until the metropolitan police arrived. Unknown to him they were asked to prevent him from leaving. It was held that an act that fulfills the requirement for false imprisonment, even if the claimant is unaware at the time, still counts. Meering was entitled to damages.

In the case of Herring v Boyle, it was held that such information was necessary, in which case the schoolmaster wrongly refused to allow the schoolboy to go with his mother until the mother had paid the sum that she believed was due to him. The discussion between the mother and the schoolmaster had taken place in the absence of the boy, and he was not aware of the restraint. It was believed that the refusal of the mother in the absence of the child, and without his being conscious of the restraint, does not amount to anything.


  1. Valid Arrest
  2. Consent to restraint
  3. Probable cause


  1. Valid Arrest: False arrest charges are not true if a person has been arrested on the grounds of lawful arrest or lawful arrest if they are likely to be considered to have committed a crime or committed wrongdoing. In addition, a person can be lawfully detained without justification for the arrest of a citizen for no reason.
  2. Consent to restraint: An individual who consents to be detained or detained without the presence of deception or intimidation or wrongdoing cannot subsequently claim to be a victim of false imprisonment. Voluntary consent to false imprisonment is also often a denial of false imprisonment.

In the case of Robinson v. Balmin New Ferry Company Ltd., the complainant decided to take a ferry across the channel. In order to get to the wharf from which the ferry would depart, he had to go through the turnstile, which was operated by the defendants. As the notices on each side made clear, the fee for using the turnstile was one penny.

The plaintiff gave the penny, went through the turnstile, and waited on the wharf for the ferry to arrive and pick him up. The plaintiff took the decision not to take the ferry and changed his plans. He wanted to go through the turnstile for which the defendants demanded payment resisted by saying that if he wanted to use the turnstile then he was supposed to pay one penny.

The plaintiff refused to pay the penny and the defendants didn’t allow him to use the turnstile. The plaintiff sued the defendant’s claim that they had falsely imprisoned him. The court dismissed his claim by stating that if he walked through the turnstile then he voluntarily agreed to take the risk, that if he would not pay a penny then he will not be allowed to go back, he would be imprisoned by the defendants.

  1. Probable cause: when the probable cause of the action is known, false imprisonment and false arrest will be absolutely undone. It is argued that the probable cause test for incarceration and arrest is objective, not on the basis of an individual’s particular offense, but on the basis of credible evidence or knowledge that will lead a person to take the normal precautions as an offender. A defendant in an action of false imprisonment or false arrest has established a probable cause of alleged tort from which he has no additional obligation to prove it. Even if probable cause exists, malicious intent will not support a claim.


False imprisonment may be due to deliberate intent or incompetence on the part of the defendant, but the claimant is the complainant, and thus when granting the award, one must bear in mind the place of confinement, the time of confinement, and the force used by the defendant. The above considerations would ensure that the aggrieved party is given equal justice.

False imprisonment also violates Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which requires the right to life and personal liberty. Any person who is wrongfully imprisoned can seek civil action against the wrongdoer for violating their constitutional rights. Pursuant to Article 21, we have a fundamental right to move freely, if an individual restricts a fundamental right, he can be sued by a court of law.

CHRIST UNIVERSITY 1st year student

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