Karnataka HC Deems Pepper Spray a 'Dangerous Weapon', Bars Its Use in Self-Defense

Karnataka HC Deems Pepper Spray a 'Dangerous Weapon', Bars Its Use in Self-Defense

The Karnataka High Court's recent ruling marks a significant moment as it categorizes pepper spray as a 'dangerous weapon.' Moreover, the court's decision clarifies that its use cannot be justified under the concept of private defense, as observed in the specific case under consideration.

Under the scrutiny of Justice M Nagaprasanna, the Karnataka High Court made this observation while refusing to dismiss a criminal case against a company director and his wife. They were accused of deploying pepper spray during a confrontation, purportedly in defense of their rights.

The court while dismissing the plea stated that “The 2nd petitioner (wife) could not have used pepper spray as private defence, as prima facie there was no imminent threat or danger posed to her life. Therefore, the case at hand would require investigation at the least."

Senior Advocate Sandesh J. Chouta, representing the director and his wife, argued that the use of pepper spray was a response to being compelled and was solely for self-defense. He contended that their actions were justified under Section 100 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Chouta also emphasized that they sustained injuries during the incident and pointed out that they had filed a complaint against the opposing party as well, suggesting the lack of merit in the criminal complaint filed against them.

However, the opposing party, represented by AAG S.A. Ahmed, held firm in their stance that pepper spray should be categorized as a deadly weapon according to Section 324 of the IPC. This classification, they argued, warranted the continuation of the criminal case.

Addressing this contention, the court noted that "There is no determination by any law being laid down in this country with regard to usage of pepper spray being a dangerous weapon. But, a Court in the United States of America in PEOPLE v.SANDEL 84 N.Y.S. 3d 340 (N.Y. Sup.Ct.2018) has held that noxious chemical sprays, like pepper sprays, are dangerous weapons."

Therefore, in light of the court's observations, it was decreed that the petition deserved to be rejected was thus rejected.

The court further clarified that the observations made are solely for the purpose of considering the case under Section 482 of the CrPC and would not bind any other proceedings against the petitioners.

Cause Title: C Nagesh Narayan v State of Karnataka [WP No 10923 of 2023

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