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False Imprisonment and Trespass to Land as a Tort

False Imprisonment as a Tort

False Imprisonment implies a total restraint on the liberty of another person without any lawful justification. The time of restraint does not matter in this case. The essentials of this tort are:

1. Total restraint on the liberty2. No Lawful justification for restraint.

Total Restraint:

Total Restraint means stopping a person from moving beyond a certain area and this constitutes as false imprisonment. Stopping one from going in a particular direction is not total restraint but in fact only partial restraint and hence does not amount to false imprisonment.

Unlawful detention:

It is mandatory that the detention/restraint must be unlawful. In Rudul Sah v. State of Bihar, the petitioner was acquitted by the court but released from jail 14 years thereafter. The state tried to justify the detention by pleading the detention was for medical treatment of the petitioner for his mental imbalance. The plea was rejected, and compensation was granted to the petitioner.

There are two instances where total restraint will not amount to False Imprisonment:

1. Means of Escape: If there is a viable means of escape to a person who is restrained, the act will not amount to false imprisonment. However, the means of escape must be such that it can be used by the restrained person. For example, a window too high with risk of falling will not count as means of escape.2. Lawful Detention: If the detention/restraint is done by the mandate of law it is lawful and therefore not false imprisonment. In the case of Robinson v. Balmain New Ferry Co Ltd, the plaintiff entered the defendants wharf with the idea to cross the river by one of the defendant’s ferry boats. But since the wait period was too long, he wished to exit but denied paying the exit changes which were lawfully displayed as rules on the notice board. The defendant would not allow exit until payment of charges. When a suit for false imprisonment was brought, it was rejected since the detention was considered lawful.

Remedies for False Imprisonment:

1. Action for damages: whenever the plaintiff has been wrongfully detained, he/she can always bring an action to claim damages.2. Self-help: While still under detention, a person can choose to use reasonable force to escape.3. Habeas corpus: it is a speedy remedy for procuring the release of a person wrongfully detained. This may be issued either by the supreme court under article 32 are by the high court under article 226 of the constitution.

Trespass to Land

Trespass to land means direct interference with the possession of land, without lawful justification. If the interference is indirect, then the act is nuisance. Direct interference means either physically entering the property or even using tangible objects to do so. Planting a tree on others’ land is trespass but if the person plants a tree over his land and the roots of the branches escape on the land of the neighbour then that will be nuisance. Trespass is a wrong against possession not ownership so even someone who is not true owner and just in possession can sue for trespass. It is actionable even without proving damages.

Trespass ab initio: It is when a person enters a property with some authority but then misuses that authority to do a wrongful act. In the case of Elias v. Pasmore, the defendants, certain police officers entered the plaintiff premises to make lawful arrest, but they removed certain documents without having any lawful authority for that which was therefore an act of misfeasance causing trespass ab initio.

Remedies for Trespass:

1. Re-entry: If a person’s possession has been disturbed by a trespasser, he has the right to use reasonable force to get a trespass vacated.2. Action for ejectment: S.6 of the specific relief act gives a speedy remedy to a person who has been dispossessed of immovable property.3. Action for mesne profit: a person who was wrongfully disposed of his land may also claim compensation for the loss which he has suffered during the period of dispossession.

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