An assault is an intentional and unlawful threat to cause bodily injury to another by force. In case of an assault, the plaintiff is under reasonable apprehension of receiving a physical injury inflicted on him by the defendant. An assault is committed even when there is no actual contact with the plaintiff. However, mere verbal threat will not amount to assault unless there is a presumption of immediate use of force.
A battery on the other hand is the intentional application of force against a person in opposition to his will. The use of force thus will be without any lawful justification. The quantum of force is immaterial in an event of battery even if it does not cause any actual harm. Even a minimum physical contact with another person in anger may constitute a battery. It can be mentioned here that assault and battery are intentional torts where the defendant actually intends to put the plaintiff under apprehension of physical injury, or intends to wrongfully touch the plaintiff.
Thus, to show a fist to a person may amount to assault, but inflicting the blow physically will result in a battery.
In most cases assault precedes battery.
b) False Imprisonment
False imprisonment can be defined as the intentional confinement of a person, without lawful justification, for an appreciable length of time, however short it might be. It is an act of the defendant, which causes unlawful confinement of the plaintiff. The length of time of confinement is of no relevance to constitute an offence of false imprisonment. Moreover, the place of detention may be the plaintiff’s own house or even a street, provided the restraint was total and legally unjustified. Further, physical confinement is also not necessary to constitute unlawful detention.
Remedies for False Imprisonment:
Habeas Corpus: The writ of Habeas Corpus is issued by the Supreme Court (vide Article 32) or by the High Courts (vide Article 226) to ensure the release of a person detained wrongfully
Self-Help: A person who is unlawfully detained may use ‘Self-Help’ to escape from such detention even by applying reasonable force.
Action for Damages: The person who has been detained unlawfully can bring an action for compensation in the form of damages.