SECTION 504 IPC - Indian Penal Code - Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace



IPC Section-504

Description of IPC Section 504

According to section 504 of Indian penal code, Whoever intentionally insults, and thereby gives provocation to any person, intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause him to break the public peace, or to commit any other offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

 

Offence : Insult intended to provoke breach of the peace


Punishment : 2 Years or Fine or Both


Cognizance : Non-Cognizable


Bail : Bailable


Triable : Any Magistrate





Section 504, I.P.C., contemplates an intentional insult to any person leading to provocation or at least intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause the person to whom the intentional insult is offered to break the public peace or to commit any other offence.
 
The provision clearly visualises that the intentional insult will further have in its background the intention or knowledge that such intentional insult would either provoke the person to whom it is offered, to break public peace or to commit any other offence.
 

What is Section 504 of IPC?

Section 504 IPC as defined in the code provides punishment to, “whoever intentionally insults, and thereby gives provocation to any person, intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause him to break the public peace, or to commit any other offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both”.
 
For a better understanding of sec 504 IPC, it is necessary to know what does the term ‘insult’ actually mean and how it become severe in nature that can even make a person liable for committing a criminal offence.
 
The objective of 504 IPC section is to prevent the intentional use of abusive language amounting to insult, giving rise to provocations causing the person against whom such words are used to commit breach of peace. In this section, it is showed how a person can provoke another to commit an offence that is criminal in nature and which can also harm the public peace at large.
 

What are the Essential Ingredients of Section 504 of IPC?

In our daily lives also, we hear a lot of words that are offensive in nature but somehow ignore to manage them, but in cases, if a person intentionally uses abusive or offensive words in order to humiliate a person or provoke him, he is said to commit an offence under the purview of sec. 504 Indian Penal Code. In order to establish an offence under this section, the following ingredients must be proved:

  • That the accused insulted some person intentionally.

  • That the intention of the person is such which is likely to give provocation to the person insulted.

  • The accused has the knowledge that such provocation would cause the person to break the public peace or under the influence of which, he can commit an offence.
     

What is ‘Insult’ as mentioned under Section 504?

To commit an offence under this section, insult is necessary. The term ‘insult’ means that the words used must be of such a nature that causes contempt to the dignity of a person or we can say, which causes a sense of humiliation to the person. These words even include the daily slangs people use in their daily lives as well such as- bastard, foolish and so on. To bring a case under this section, it would be necessary to decide whether the use of such words led to an intentional insult or not. A person cannot be held liable under this section unless insult was intended. Now the major question arises, how to determine whether the insult was intentional or not?
 
So, the answer to this question is, an intention of insult is a matter of facts and circumstances which differs from case to case and situation to situation. Nature of insult is more of a question of fact and not of law. Insult caused should give provocation to cause a breach of public peace. Say for an example- when the accused abused the complainant in such a manner which involves the chastity of his mother or sister, such an act falls under the ambit of IPC section 504. This was also held in the case of In re Karumuri Venkatratnam.
 
By reason of the expression of the abusive words in the background, atmosphere, and circumstances in which they are used, the act shows the breach of peace, which is considered as the determining test to bring a case within the extent of section 504 IPC. Further, it is also contended that every insult could not be classified as an intentional insult. Say for an instance, a mere lack of good manners and casual talks between friends does not constitute an offence under this section. In the same manner, use of abusive language not supported by intention also does not lead to a breach of peace and does not make it an offence.
 
In classifying whether the particular abusive language is covered under IPC 504 or not, the court has to find out what in ordinary circumstances would be the effect of the abusive language used, and what if the complainant used those words or did an act as a result of his cool temperament or in his sense of discipline. It is the ordinary general nature of the abusive language that is the test for considering whether the abusive language is an intentional insult likely to provoke the person insulted to commit a breach of peace and not the particular conduct or temperament of the complainant.
 
Each case of abusive language is to be decided on the facts and circumstances of that case, and there cannot be a general proposition that no one commits an offence under section 504 IPC if he merely uses abusive language against the complainant
 
Hence, the abuse that attracts section 504 IPC, must be accompanied with an intention to provoke a person intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause the latter to break the public peace, or commit some other offence.
 

What is the Trial Procedure in a case filed under Section 504?

The trial procedure in a case filed under Section 504 is similar to any other criminal case. The same has been explained below from the initial stages of filing a complaint till the court gives the final judgment:
 
1. FIR, Remand and Bail
The first step in the procedure is to file an FIR after which the accused is arrested. Whenever an accused is arrested for any offense and police cannot complete the investigation within 24 hours then such person is produced before a magistrate for seeking an extension of custody. The magistrate can grant police custody to the accused which shall not be more than 15 days in the whole considering the application. However, if the magistrate does not seem convinced then the accused is taken to magisterial custody. However, the magistrate under section 167 (2) (a) may authorize the detention of the accused person, otherwise in custody of police beyond the period of fifteen days; if he is satisfied that adequate grounds exist in doing so. However, no magistrate shall authorize custody for more than-

  1. Ninety days, where the investigation is of an offense punishable with death, imprisonment for 10 years or imprisonment for a term not less than ten years.

  2. Sixty days, where the investigation is of any other offense.

  3. On the expiry of the 90 days or 60 days, the accused can be granted bail by applying for a grant of bail, within the provisions of section 436, 436 and 439 of Cr.P.C.

 
2. Final Report by Police u/s 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code
The police after completing the investigation have to file a final report under section 173 of the CrPC. This is the conclusion of the investigation and the evidence collected by the Investigation Agency. If the evidence collected against the accused is deficient then the police may file a report under section 169 of the Cr.P.C and release the accused on executing a bond and undertaking for appearing the Magistrate empowered to take cognizance.
The final report will be of 2 types:

  1. Closure Report.

  2. Charge sheet/ Final report

 
3. Closure Report
A closure report is filed when the police have no evidence to prove that the alleged offense has been committed by an accused. After the closure report is filed the magistrate has 4 options.

  1. Accept the report and close the case.

  2. Direct the investigating agency to investigate the matter further, if he/ she thinks there is still some gap in the investigation.

  3. Issue notice as he is the only person who can challenge the closure report.

  4. May reject the closure report and take cognizance under section 190 of Cr.PC and under section 204 of Cr P.C issue summons to the accused and direct his appearance to the magistrate.
     

4. Charge Sheet
A charge sheet includes the elements of the offense in a prescribed form, and it also contains the complete investigation of the Police authorities and the charges slapped against the accused. It includes facts, in brief, all statements recorded under section 161, 164, a copy of the FIR, list of witnesses, list of seizure and other documental evidence. According to Chap 6 of the CrP.C, on the filing of the charge sheet, the accused may be issued summons by the magistrate to appear before him on a given date. On the filing of the charge sheet, the Magistrate takes cognizance of the matter under section 190 of the Cr.P.C. The court can reject the charge sheet and discharge the accused or can accept it and frame the charges and, post the case for trial.
 
5. Plea of Guilty Or Not Guilty By Accused
If the accused pleads guilty, the court shall record the plea and may convict him. If the accused pleads not guilty then the case is posted for trial.
 
6. Opening Statement by Prosecution
The case is opened by the Prosecutor, who will have to explain the court about the charges put on the accused in the charge sheet. The accused at any time can file an application under section 227 for discharging him for the charges levied on the ground that the charges against him are false and are not strong or sufficient enough to proceed against him in the trial.
 
7. Evidence Produced by the Prosecution
Witnesses from both sides are examined. The stages of evidence include Examination of Chief, Cross Examination and Re-examination. To produce the guilt of the accused, the prosecution is required to produce evidence. The evidence needs to be supported with statements from witnesses. This process is called "examination in chief". The magistrate has the power to issue summons to any person as a witness or orders him to produce any document. (Session trial- section 233, warrant trial- section 242 and summons trial-section 254).
 
8. Statement of the Accused
After the evidence of the prosecution, the statement of the accused is recorded under section 313 of Cr.P.C. An oath is not administered during the recording of the statement. The accused then says his/her facts and circumstances of the case. Anything recorded during the statement can be used against him or her at any later stage.
 
9. Defense Witness
The defense after the statement of accused produces oral and documentary evidence. This is under section 233 for sessions trial, sections 243 for warrant trial, section 254 (2) for summons trial). In India the defense is generally not required to give any defense evidence as the burden of proof is on the prosecution.
 
10. Final Arguments
Final arguments are presented by the Public Prosecutor and the defense counsel. According to section 314 of Cr.P.C, any party to a proceeding may, as soon as may be, after the close of his evidence, address concise oral arguments, and may, before he concludes the oral arguments, if any, submit a memorandum to the Court setting forth concisely and under distinct headings, the arguments in support of his case and every such memorandum shall form part of the record.
A copy of every such memorandum shall be simultaneously furnished to the opposite party.
 
11. Judgment
After hearing all the arguments, the judge decides whether to convict the accused or acquit him. This is known as judgment. (Session trial- Section 235, warrant trial- section 248 and summon trial- section 255). If the accused is convicted, then both sides give their arguments on the punishment. This usually done if the punishment is life imprisonment or capital punishment.
 
After hearing the arguments on the sentence, the court finally decides what should be the punishment for the accused. Various theories of punishment are considered like the reformative theory of punishment and deterrent theory of punishment. Age, background, and history of the accused are also considered while giving the judgment.
 

What is the Procedure to Appeal in a case filed under Section 504 of IPC?

With the exception of the statutory arrangements set out in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or any other law which is in power, an appeal can't lie from any judgment of a criminal court. Accordingly, there is no vested right to appeal as, for example, even the main appeal will be exposed to statutory limitations. The legitimization behind this standard is that the courts which adjudge a case are equipped enough with the assumption that the trial has been led reasonably. In any case, according to the stipulation, the party has a privilege to appeal against any judgment passed by the Court under exceptional conditions involving a judgment of acquittal, conviction for lesser offense or lacking remuneration.
 
By and large, same arrangements of rules and procedures are utilized to administer the appeals in the Sessions Courts and High Courts (highest court of appeal in a state and appreciates more powers in issues where appeal is maintainable). The highest court of appeal in the nation is the Supreme Court and henceforth, it appreciates the broadest powers in the instances of appeals. Its forces are generally administered by the arrangements set down in, Indian Constitution, and the Supreme Court (Enlargement of Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction), 1970.
 
The accused is given the option to appeal to the Supreme Court against the judgment of the High Court if the High Court has turned around a request for his acquittal on appeal by indicting him, in this way, condemning him to detainment forever or for a very long time or more, or till death. Understanding the significance of a criminal appeal being made to the Supreme Court, a similar law has additionally been set down in Article 134(1) of the Indian Constitution under the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court (Enlargement of Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, 1970, has likewise been passed by the council in consonance with Article 134(2) of the Indian Constitution to present extra powers on the Supreme Court to engage and hear appeals from the High Court under specific conditions.
 
A comparative option to appeal has been allowed to one or all charged persons if more than one person have been sentenced in a trial and such request has been passed by the court. Nonetheless, there are sure conditions under which no appeal will lie. These arrangements have been set down under Section 265G, Section 375 and Section 376 of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
 

How to get Bail if charged under Section 504 of IPC?

In order to apply for bail when accused under Section 504 of the IPC, the accused will have to submit an application for bail in the court. The court will then send the summons to the other party and will fix a date for the hearing. On the date of hearing, the court will hear arguments from both sides and would give a decision based on the facts and circumstances of the case.
 
In case the accused has an apprehension of an arrest under Section 504 of the IPC, he or she can also file an application for anticipatory bail with the help of a criminal lawyer. The lawyer will file the anticipatory bail application in the requisite court having the authority to adjudge the particular criminal matter along with a vakalatnama. The court will then notify a public prosecutor about the anticipatory bail application and would ask him to file objections, if any. Thereafter, the court will appoint a date of hearing and after hearing the final arguments of both the parties would give a judgment based on the facts and circumstances of the case.
 

Testiomonials

  1. “My neighbour reported a fake case under Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code over a heated argument we had. He made it look like as if I was trying to intimidate him in relation to an unresolved issue that was going on for more than 7 years. However, whenever the court date was due he never appeared and there was also not enough evidence for him to prove the said allegations. With the help of our expert criminal lawyer we were able to get an ex parte order in our favour.”

-Anshul Chugh
 

  1. “I am a 23 year old student, my family was having some issue with the neighours as they were constantly abusing us for having a public water connection pipeline taken through their property. We wrote a formal written complaint to the local police station, however, they continued it and this time more aggressively. When I went to their house to talk to the head of the family, his 21 year old son got physical with me and we had a little fight. No serious hurt was caused to both of us and the same was also witnessed by the crowd. This time both families went to the police station and the son filed a non-cognizable offence report under IPC Sections 323 and 504 against me. We also went on to file the same case against him under IPC Sections 323 and 504 as a counter case. We both had medical test after that and went home. Upon proper examination by the Court, it was concluded that the act was initiated by the neighbour’s son and the relief was granted in our favour.”

-Chandan Bhatia
 

  1. “My wife filed a fake case under Domestic Violence Act and Sections 504, 506 of the Indian Penal Code. She has been in an affair since before marriage and I got to know about it later when I accidentally overheard her while she was talking on phone with her boyfriend. When I confronted her she started accusing us of fake things and threatened me and my brother of filing a case of domestic violence and dowry against us. We immediately consulted a lawyer from Lawrato.com who advised us to file a counter claim stating the true facts. When examined by the court during hearings it was discovered that she had filed a fake case against us. Thus, we were acquitted by the court and she was in turn penalized for filing a fake case.”

-Bharat Thakur
 

  1. “I am a UPSC exam aspirant and I got into verbal fight with one of my classmates from my coaching center who was trying to rag me. He and his friends started threatening me of beating me up when found alone outside of the coaching center. I got furious and immediately consulted a lawyer who advised me to file a case against them under IPC sections 504 and 506. I did as advised and upon investigation by police they were found guilty and punished by the Court.”

-Arunim Anand
 

Important Judgments relating to Section 504

1. Shrikhande vs. State of Maharashtra (2013)
In the case of Fiona Shrikhande vs. State of Maharashtra (2013), it was held that the intentional insult must be of such a degree that it should provoke a person to either break the public peace or indulge into the commission of any other offence. Merely abusing does not satisfy the ingredients of the offence.
 
2. Ramesh Kumar vs. Smt. Sushila Srivastava (1996)
In Ramesh Kumar vs. Smt. Sushila Srivastava (1996), the Rajasthan High Court held that the manner in which the accused addressed the complainant was prima facie such that it depicts that the person was insulted and provoked. The term ‘insult’ means to either treat with offensive disrespect or to offer an indignity to the person. The inference has to be drawn not solely from words but also from the tone and the manner in which they were spoken.
 
3. Abraham vs. State of Kerala (1960)
In the case of Abraham vs. State of Kerala (1960), it was clarified by the Kerala High Court that merely breaching good manners does not fall into the ambit of the section. The essential component of the offence is to figure out the intention of the offender.
 
4. Philip Rangel vs. Emperor (1931)
In Philip Rangel vs. Emperor (1931), the accused was a shareholder in a bank and had requisitioned a meeting for the shareholders. In the meeting, it was proposed that he should be expelled. The accused reacted to this by uttering abusive words. The Bombay High Court clarified that the words should amount to something more than ‘mere verbal abuse.’ The language cannot be held to amount to intentional insult if the Court arrives at the conclusion that there was no intention of the accused that the words should be ‘taken literally’ by those to whom it was addressed.
 
5. Ram Chandra Singh vs. Nabrang Rai Barma (1998)
The Orissa High Court in the case of Ram Chandra Singh vs. Nabrang Rai Barma (1998), the complainant stated that the accused had built a boundary wall over his roof. When the complainant protested, he was abused with filthy language. The Court held that whether mere abuse would amount to an offence under this section is dependent on various factors such as the status of the parties, the nature of abuse and several other factors. The Court held that such words are normally used by the parties in petty quarrels and hence did not amount to an offence under this provision.
 
6. Devi Ram vs. Mulakh Raj (1962)
It is not essential that there must be an actual breach of peace for the application of this section. The essential element is the intention of the offender to provoke the breach of the peace or he should have knowledge that his provocation is likely to cause the commission of an offence. This principle was observed in the case of Devi Ram vs. Mulakh Raj (1962).
 
7. Mohammed Ibrahim Maracayar vs. Ismail Maracayar (1949)
In Mohammed Ibrahim Maracayar vs. Ismail Maracayar (1949), a father who lived in Vellore wrote an insulting letter to his daughter and her husband. The Court held that the reaction of the person insulted does not have to be considered. An intentional insult which would lead to provocation and subsequent breach of the peace would render the offender liable under this section.
 

How can a Lawyer help you in a Case under Section 504?

Being charged with a crime, whether major or minor, is a serious matter. A person facing criminal charges risks severe penalties and consequences, such as jail time, having a criminal record, and loss of relationships and future job prospects, among other things. While some legal matters can be handled alone, a criminal arrest of any nature warrants the legal advice of a qualified criminal lawyer who can protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your case.
If you're facing criminal prosecution, a criminal lawyer can help you understand:

  • The nature of the charges filed;

  • Any available defenses;

  • What plea bargains are likely to be offered; and

  • What is expected after trial or conviction.

This is why it is important to have a criminal lawyer by your side to help you when charged with a crime as heinous as the one mentioned under section 504 of the Indian Penal Code.

FAQ's on IPC Section 504


What offence is defined under IPC 504?

IPC 504 Offence: Insult intended to provoke breach of the peace.


What is the punishment for IPC 504 Case?

The punishment for IPC 504 is 2 Years or Fine or Both.


Is IPC 504 cognizable offence or non-cognizable offence?

IPC 504 is a Non-Cognizable.


How to file/defend your case for IPC 504 offence?

Use LawRato for filing/defending your case under IPC 504 with the help of best criminal lawyers near you.


Is IPC 504 bailable or non-bailable offence?

IPC 504 is a Bailable offence.


In what court can IPC 504 be tried?

IPC 504 is tried in the court of Any Magistrate.


Legal Questions Answered by Top Lawyers on IPC 504


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