INDIAN KANOON SECTION 144 CrPC - Code of Criminal Procedure - Power to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger


  1. In cases where, in the opinion of a District Magistrate, a Sub-divisional Magistrate or any other Executive Magistrate specially empowered by the State Government in this behalf, there is sufficient ground for proceeding under this section and immediate prevention or speedy remedy is desirable, such Magistrate may, by a written order stating the material facts of the case and served in the manner provided by section 134, direct any person to abstain from a certain act or to take certain order with respect to certain property in his possession or under his management, if such Magistrate considers that such direction is likely to prevent, or tends to prevent, obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safely, or a disturbance of the public tranquility, or a riot, or an affray.
  2. An order under this section may, in cases of emergency or in cases where the circumstances do not admit of the serving in due lime of a notice upon the person against whom the order is directed, be passed Ex-parte.
  3. An order under this section may be directed to a particular individual, or to persons residing in a particular place or area, or to the public generally when frequenting or visiting a particular place or area.
  4. No order under this section shall remain in force for more than two months from the making thereof;
    Provided that, if the State Government considers it necessary so to do for preventing danger to human life, health or safety or for preventing a riot or any affray, it may, by notification, direct that an order made by a Magistrate under this section shall remain in force for such further period not exceeding six months from the date on which the order made by the Magistrate would have, but for such order, expired, as it may specify in the said notification.
  5. Any Magistrate may, either on his own motion or on the application of any person aggrieved, rescind or alter any order made under this section, by himself or any Magistrate subordinate to him or by his predecessor-in-office.
  6. The State Government may, either on its own motion or on the application of any person aggrieved, rescind or alter any order made by it under the proviso to Sub-Section (4).
  7. Where an application under Sub-Section (5), or Sub-Section (6) is received, the Magistrate, or the State Government, as the case may be, shall afford to the applicant an early opportunity of appearing before him or it, either in person or by pleader and showing cause against the order, and if the Magistrate or the State Government, as the case may be, rejects the application wholly or in part, he or it shall record in writing the reasons for so doing.

Section 144 of CrPC

The Constitution of India confers onto the citizens of India the right to assemble. However, there are situations when an assembly may turn unruly causing damage to not only property but also to life rendering the assembly as Unlawful. In situations like these the administration has powers to issue orders prohibiting the people to assemble at one place or organise any such events where five or more people's gathering can be expected. This power has been rendered to the administration under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

What is Section 144 of CrPC?

Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973 authorises the Executive Magistrate of any state or territory to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area. According to the law, every member of such 'unlawful assembly' can be booked for engaging in rioting.

Section 144 is imposed in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger of some event that has the potential to cause trouble or damage to human life or property. Section 144 of CrPC generally prohibits public gathering.

Section 144 has been used in the past to impose restrictions as a means to prevent protests that can lead to unrest or riots. The orders to impose Section 144 have been conferred to Executive Magistrate when there is an emergency situation.

What are the restrictions that can be imposed through an order under Section 144?

The administration is empowered under Section 144 to impose restrictions on the personal liberties of individuals. This means the fundamental right of peaceful assembly provided under Article 19 of the Constitution is curtailed by the administration if the executive magistrate finds the situation at any specified place presenting a potential to disturbance in law and order.

The restriction could be imposed in a specific locality or in the entire town. The defining aspect of imposing such a restriction is assessment of the situation by the district administration that it has the potential to cause unrest or danger to peace and tranquility in such an area due to certain disputes.

Prevention of a crime or riot is the duty of the administration. Power conferred under Section 144 is absolute in terms of maintaining law and order.

Once Section 144 of the CrPC is imposed in any area, all civilians are barred from carrying of weapons of any kind including lathis, sharp-edged metallic objects or firearms in public places. Police or other security personnel are the only ones allowed to carry weapons in areas placed under Section 144.

What are the actions that can be taken against someone disobeying an order under Section 144?

Whoever violates the prohibitory orders under Section 144 can be charged under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, i.e. Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant. If an order under Section 144 of the CrPC has been violated the police are authorized to exercise their powers under Section 188. However, the nature of the offence would decide the exercise of the provisions under the Act.

Under Section 188 (1), the police has the power to arrest and detain anybody for some time, any person who violates such order. The punishment under the section after trial can go up to one month of simple imprisonment, if the person is convicted of violating the order.

However, if a person arrested for violation of the order has a potential to threaten the law and order, or to endanger the lives of other people, the person arrested can be charged under Section 188 (2) of the Indian Penal Code. In such a case, the police has the power to detain the violator for a maximum of 24 hours before the violator has been let off on bail and can also be punished with up to six months of simple imprisonment if the person is convicted.

The sections are both cognizable and bailable, that means, the violation under Section 144 would necessitate arrest and a person charged under the Section can be released on bail. Moreover, a fine up to Rs. 1,000 can also be imposed on the person charged with violation of Section 144.

The police also have the powers to confiscate the vehicle of the violator. The period of confiscation of the vehicle can also be extended by the police if they deem fit. Furthermore, the police can also impound the driving license of the violator.

What is the difference between restriction order under Section 144 and curfew?

Restriction under Section 144 is different from curfew. In the areas where curfew is imposed, all public activity is barred. Civilian traffic is also stopped. Curfew warrants much graver situation posing bigger danger of rioting and violence.

As a matter of rule, Section 144 is imposed for two months but it can be withdrawn any moment the administration finds the situation has attained normalcy. The government may extend the duration of restriction imposed under Section 144 beyond two months but not exceeding six months in one stretch.

However, there are certain places which are highly sensitive have Section 144 imposed in the surrounding areas all the time. Parliament Building Complex and the Supreme Court of India are among such areas where Section 144 is always in force.

Click here to read more from the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc), 1973.

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