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False Imprisonment

A person commits false imprisonment only when they act restraint on another person, which restricts their movement within an area without legal authority.

When a person’s right to freedom is restrained intentionally by another person without any legal right or justification, the offence is of wrongful confinement defined under Section 340 of the IPC. Unlawful imprisonment is defined under Section 339 to Section 348.

For example, if an armed robber yells at the bank and asks customers to get down on the floor and threatens to shoot, customers are being held against their will so customers can claim their damages, and the criminal will be charged with the crime of false imprisonment. 

False imprisonment 

False imprisonment is the imprisonment of an individual by a law enforcement officer or a civilian, an activity committed without lawful authority. Even though we call it false arrest, it is only a part of false imprisonment. False arrest and false detention are named differently, but they are basically indistinguishable and are hence held by the courts as a single tort.

Victims of false imprisonment can be compensated in three ways: habeas corpus, damages, and self-help. If a person is unlawfully imprisoned, they may be released from such confinement by the writ of habeas corpus. Being a tort, the vital rectification for false imprisonment is an action for damages for the physical or mental suffering the victim faces, loss of reputation for the victim, or even malicious intent of the accused. The victim can justly use force to escape captivity and not be charged for losses or damages.

Elements of false imprisonment

The following are some major false elements:

The Intention Factor 

The law of false imprisonment should usually be intentional. An average person is not liable for false imprisonment unless they do something with a motive of confinement. Based on the evidence presented before them, it is up to the judges to decide that the tort of false imprisonment is intentional.

Knowledge of the plaintiff

There is no need for the person alleged with false imprisonment to be aware of this freedom restriction; for example, if a person is confined in a room and the plaintiff knows it only on entry, the room has more than one entry. Even if they are not known to the plaintiff, the defendant will be liable. 

Willful detention

False imprisonment must be intentional. If you accidentally close the door when someone is on the other side, it will not be considered wrongful confinement as it falls under wrong detention. It involves physically restricting a person from leaving the physical room or any similar confinement.

Remedies of false imprisonment 

Action for loss

The basis of these damages involves injury, mental suffering, humiliation, injury to reputation, or physical suffering to the person. There is no such rule mainly for assessing the damage, and it is left to the court to decide. 

Nominal and compensatory damages

If there are exemplary damages, the plaintiff is entitled to have an equal amount for the loss, but the nominal award will be inadequate if there is more significant damage. 

Punitive exemplary and aggravated losses

The court will also award exemplary or punitive damages if the imprisonment has been affected by reckless design meant to injure and oppress.

Writ of habeas corpus

It is also considered a golden remedy by English law. This writ is a better means to release from immediate, unlawful detention. It can be used in several criminal cases of false imprisonment. 


If detained unlawfully, they may use self-help groups to save themselves from unlawful arrest involving reasonable force.

Defences of false imprisonment 

Valid arrest: If a person is being arrested under the law and has enough cause to arrest that person due to unlawful activities, it does not fall under false imprisonment. 

Consent to restraint: If a person is confined with their consent, but without the presence of any fraud, then they cannot claim to be a victim of imprisonment.

Probable cause: Establishing probable cause by action completely fails the false imprisonment or false arrest. It is known that the conceivable cause test for detention is not based on any actual crime; instead, it is objective-based on real crime on individuals.


When a person is intentionally restrained from exercising their freedom by another person (who does not have any legal right or justification), it can be called private or government detention. When the restraint is complete and has circumscribed limits, the offence is charged as wrongful confinement, defined under Section 340 of the IPC and unlawful imprisonment is defined under Section 339 to Section 348. 

False imprisonment may happen because of the defendant’s hostile intentions or maybe due to negligence, but the plaintiff suffers. False imprisonment violates article 21, including a person’s right to life and personal freedom.

 A falsely imprisoned person can take legal actions against the wrongdoer that violated their rights. If anyone is restraining your fundamental right, you can sue them in a court of law.

The remedies for false imprisonment include Action for loss, Nominal and compensatory damages, writ of habeas corpus, and self-help.


Frequently asked questions

Get answers to the most common queries related to the UPSC Examination Preparation.

What is false imprisonment?

Ans. It involves wrongfully putting a person into imprisonment or arresting th...Read full

What are the factors which constitute false imprisonment?

Ans. Three factors constitute false imprisonment: intention, knowledge of the ...Read full

What are the defences of the false arrest?

Ans. Defences of false arrest are valid arrest, consent to restraint, and prob...Read full

What are the remedies for false imprisonment?

Ans. The remedies for false imprisonment are action for loss, nominal and compensatory damages, writ of habeas corpu...Read full

Which article is violated by false imprisonment?

Ans. False imprisonment violates article 21, including a person’s right to life and personal freedom.