to Fight Back
By Maxwell Pereira
right of self-defence is something we have believed in as enshrined
in our Constitution, and confirmed by our Criminal Justice Administration
System. In fact in Delhi, the police department has been encouraging
citizens to be conscious of safety requirements to protect themselves
and to protect their own including their homes. Each time a brave
one exhibits courage to stand up to an intruder, a night burglar
or a robber, the police recognize their initiative, presence of
mind and courage to confront or help apprehend the anti-social,
by rewarding the individual - as an example for others to emulate.
this 'right of self defence' is currently a matter of major debate
in England, whose very people helped us write and codify our present
laws. A recent Sunday edition of The Telegraph reports that over
ten thousand of its readers have demanded the right to defend
their homes, sharing harrowing stories and experiences of their
own. 'Why should the victims be reasonable?'
screams a headline,
whose readers want their Prime Minister to change the law to give
householders the unqualified right to use force against intruders.
By implication, one concludes there is a bias in the existing
law and/or its application, in favour of the intruder!
a particular burglary in Okenhampton the householder faced arrest
for causing grievous bodily harm after lashing out at an intruding
burglar at night and breaking his leg, because the burglar had
not actually removed any property except a quantity of banknotes
which he, the householder, could not prove were his! Even though
the case got thrown out of court on a technicality, the memory
of how close he was to a period of incarceration merely for defending
what was his own still haunts the house owner.
from Essex, a retired detective of the Metropolitan Police, wails
in anguish how he was arrested and charged for assault after he
caught some teenagers tearing down trees in his garden for a bonfire
behind his wooden shed, merely for holding one of the boys by
third explains how the usual niceties of society stand suspended
when one is suddenly brought face-to-face with violent individuals
with criminal intent. "Why on earth should it be incumbent
upon victims of crime to behave reasonably in the face of wholly
unreasonable circumstances?" asks another from Bedfordshire.
'"The United States has got it right" he states, "if
someone comes into a home uninvited, they do so at their peril
and not at the homeowner's". He accuses the lawmakers in
the UK of being 'so obtuse' as to be practically offering the
burglar immunity by putting the onus on the victim.
widow in her eighties from Kent writes that she is appalled and
sickened by the pictures of old ladies who have been burgled,
beaten up and in some cases, murdered. Not wanting to invite such
fate for herself, she unequivocally declares about keeping a weapon
in her bedroom. For yet another in Warwickshire, "It is an
absolute disgrace for hard-working folk to suffer the indignation
of an arrest for defending their lifetime's possessions while
being removed by some half-wit who can't be bothered to find a
job". For her the government would have more credibility
if it spent as much time tackling crime as it did debating whether
some men and women in red coats on horses should pursue a fox!
Wiltshire writes another that as long ago as the time of the 1689
Bill of Rights, it was recognized that a contract between citizen
and state whereby the state would protect the citizen from personal
assault at all times, was impossible to honour. That the situation
now is no different.
to sum up public reaction is one from Suffolk who is eager to
hear arguments against the proposition. He observes amidst a great
deal of name-calling, the defeatist argument that the proposed
measures will cause criminals to be more violent - a counsel of
despair - and fanciful speculations about householders arming
themselves. And he notes the lofty condescension of the 'liberal
elite' that the law is perfectly adequate.
the opposition for fanning the campaign for their own selfish
ends, an MP from the ruling party however reasserts two basic
principles: That in the public domain people should be expected
to go about their business without being arbitrarily attacked
by anyone else; and that this stance should not operate within
one's home. If people violate the privacy of one's home, then
their right to expect protection from the law is negated by their
own very act.
it is a long-retired police officer joining the fray, who tells
how far a person could go to protect his home. He points out that
Common Law has always supported the principle that one could not
retreat further than the bounds of one's home. To Victorian legislators
the protection of the dwelling and its occupants was paramount,
particularly in respect of the nighttime offence of burglary.
He clarifies that Section 31 of the Offences against the Person
Act 1861, made it an offence to set any spring-gun, 'man-trap'
or other 'engine', with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm,
except when set or placed from sunset to sunrise, in a dwelling
house for the protection thereof. He hoped that the current debate
would result in some Victorian attitudes being adopted, leaving
burglars and the like in no doubt about the serious consequences
of their actions.
29.12.2004: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002.
You can interact with the author at http://
www.maxwellperira.com and email@example.com
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