Chapter VIII of the Indian Penal Code from section 141-160 deals with ‘Offences against Public Tranquility.’ These kinds of offences are committed by the group of people sharing a common intention to disturb the peace and tranquility of an area thus affecting the whole society; such offences are considered to be both against the state, person and property.
These offences can be broadly divided into four parts:
- Unlawful Assembly
- Promoting enmity between different classes
The main reason that there is criminalization of unlawful assembly is to preserve public peace and order. The Indian Penal Code provides for vicarious liability to caution people from committing crimes in groups.
Section 141 states that the main basis of an unlawful assembly is the collective committing of an offence by 5 or more persons. The major ingredients of this section are that if there is an assembly of five persons or more and they have a common object, this common object must belong to one of the five criterias specified in this section.
These common objects are as follows:
- To use criminal force against any public servant, state or central government.
- To resist any legal proceeding.
- To commit any mischief or trespass on any property or person.
- To use criminal force against any person to deprive him of the enjoyment of any right.
- To use criminal force against a person and compelling him to do something which he is legally not bound to do.
Section 142 : being a member of an unlawful assembly
when a person joins an unlawful assembly with full knowledge of that fact that it is against the law, and then a person can be charged under this section.
Section 143 : Punishment
the punishment for being a member of an unlawful assembly. A person who is a part of an unlawful assembly shall be punishable with an imprisonment which may extend to 6 months, or with fine, or with both.
Note : The mere presence of a person in an assembly without any motive to infringe the peace in the surrounding is not punishable.
Section 146 : Rioting
This section defines the offence of rioting. It says that whenever an unlawful assembly uses force or violence in prosecution of the common object of such assembly, or whenever any member of an unlawful assembly uses force or violence in prosecution of the common object of such assembly, the law holds each member of such assembly guilty of the offence of rioting.
Use of force or violence distinguishes rioting from an unlawful assembly.
Section 147 : Punishment for Rioting
Whoever is guilty of rioting, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 148 : Rioting armed with deadly weapon
Whoever is guilty of rioting, being armed with a deadly weapon or with anything which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 3 years, or with fine, or with both.
Promoting enmity between classes
Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deals with the offence of promoting disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred between different groups on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
The offence is a cognizable offence, non-bailable non-compoundable and the punishment for the same may extend to 3 years, or with fine, or with both. However, the above mentioned offence if committed in a place of worship then punishment may exceed up to 5 years and fine.
Affray : Section 159 and 160
Section 159 : This term ‘affray’ refers to fighting in public which disturbs public order and peace. there must be two or more people involved in it. They commit affray.
It is non cognizable and bailable. Section 160 provides for the Punishment for affray this could be up to 1 month imprisonment or fine or both.