Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

Every man’s house is his refuge.




According to this maxim, everyone’s house is to him/her a castle and fortress as well as a defense against injury and violence, as for his repose. In simple terms, the law recognizes the sanctity of one’s home, giving the person living in it a right to defend it and also to use it as a defense.

Case Laws

In Peter Semayne v. Richard Gresham, referring to the above maxim, the court held that the extent of a sheriff’s power to break doors was discussed, and five points resolved, the first being that every man’s house ‘is to him as his castle,’ so that he is justified in killing another who breaks into his house to rob or murder him.

In Burdett v. Abbott, the court held that a sheriff to execute process may not break an outer door; neither may a bailiff to distrain for rent, though he may enter through an open window; or over a wall.

In India, the Supreme Court while in the landmark judgment on LGBT rights in India, while striking down some parts of Section 377 of IPC said that Section 377 amounts to the unreasonable restriction as it makes carnal intercourse between two consenting adults within their castle a criminal offense. Here the term castle is a reference to the house as per the maxim Domus Sua Cuique Est Tutissimum Refugium – A man’s house is his castle.

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