Rioting: An Overview


Chapter VIII of the Indian penal code, 1860 which is dealing with Of offences against the public tranquility. Under IPC, this chapter VIII consists of 22 sections (141- 160 including section 153A and 153B). In this article, we discussed about the section 147, 148, 150-160 of IPC. The offences of this chapter are generally known as group offences. And in this the most of the offences are disturb the public peace or public tranquility. The offences of this chapter are classified in four categories, they are:-

  • Unlawful assembly
  • Rioting
  • Promoting enmity between different classes
  • Affray

Section 147:- punishment for rioting.

Before discussing about section 147, the punishment for rioting, we have to discuss about the section 146 of IPC. Section 146 of the IPC says about the rioting. According to IPC, section 146 discussed about the offences of rioting and section 147 set as the punishment of the offence ‘rioting’. Rioting is acknowledged as a riot being basically an unlawful assembly in a scrupulous state of action, that action being go with by the exercise of force or violence. It is barely the use of force that differentiates rioting as of an unlawful assembly.

Ingredients of the rioting:-

  • There must be an unlawful assembly which is given in section 141.
  • The accused must be a member of such an unlawful assembly
  • Violence must be used by, the said unlawful assembly.
  • In the important case, Hazara Singh v. State of Punjab, the court held that the said violence must be used in prosecution of the common object of the said unlawful assembly.

In this section, the use of the force is a necessary condition to attract this section, as mere intention to use force does not suffice to hold a person liable for rioting.

According to IPC, if the common object of an assembly is not illegal then it is not a rioting, even if force is used by any member of that assembly. Acts done by some members outside the common objects are only chargeable against the actual perpetrator of those acts.

The essence of this offence lies in the use of force to achieve a common design. If a group of persons assembled for any lawful purpose suddenly quarrel with no previous design or intention then it is not a riot in the technical sense of the term. Similarly, it is not a riot when members of an audience in a public theatre to make a noise or sound in a performance of the movie but if the group of person come prepared to interrupt the performance by causing a disturbance, this would be rioting.

Section 147:- the punishment for rioting.

It prescribes punishment for rioting, which may extend to two years of imprisonment or fine or else both.

Section 148:- Rioting, armed with deadly weapon

This section discussed as an aggravated form of rioting as defined in section 147 under IPC. In this, when a person, being armed with a deadly weapon, or a weapon which is likely to cause death, commits rioting, he is subjected to enhanced punishment, which may extend to three years of punishment as an imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years or fine or else both.

Section 150:-the hiring or conniving at hiring, of persons to unite unlawful assembly.

According to section 150 of IPC, it enacts a specific offence, while under section 149, a person must be a member of an unlawful assembly and brings within its fold those who hire, engage and employ persons to join or become a member of assembly. The objects of this section are to bring within the reach of the law those who are originators and instigators of offences committed by others.

Thus where a person hires or engages another to join or to become a member of an unlawful assembly then he will be liable for the offence committed by any member.

Section 151:- the knowingly joining or the continuing in assembly of five or more persons subsequent to it has been commanded to disperse.

It means , a willful joining or continuing in an unlawful assembly of five or more than five persons which is likely to cause a disturbance of the public peace and after that it has been lawfully commanded to disperse and punishment to the extent of six months imprisonment or fine or else both. 

Section 152:- an assaulting or obstructing the public servant when suppressing riot, etc.:-

According to this section, if the person resists or attempts to resist a public servant in the discharge of his duty to disperse an unlawful assembly or to suppress a riot, or an affray then under the IPC, that person is liable to imprisonment which may extend to three years or fine or else both. 

Section 153:- Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot- if rioting be committed- if not committed.

To invoke this offence, then the aggravation recognized must be such as would be probable to the reason of rioting. It depends on the temper and feelings of the person subjected to provocation and the knowledge of this by the accused. The illegality of the act must be ascertained according to the general law governing the rights of the person and property.

The punishment of this act is imprisonment up to one year or fine or else both, if the offence of rioting is committed in consequence of such provocation and up to 6 months or fine or both , if the offence is not devoted.

In the case of Jasnami v Emperor, the court held that the mere fact that it might have hurt the religious sentiments of the hindus did not make the accused guilty in this case.

Section 153A:- the promoting enmity among dissimilar groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.

This section says about:-

  • The act of encourage hostility among dissimilar groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, habitation, language, community or any other grouping
  • Acts detrimental to the safeguarding of harmony among dissimilar groups or castes or communities, if the acts uneasiness the public serenity
  • Acts causing fear or alarm or a feeling of insecurity among members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or community by utilize of illegal force or violence beside them.

Section 153 AA: – its punishment is imprisonment for 6 months and fine of 2000.

Section 153 B: – the imputations assertions prejudicial to national integration.

According to IPC, to invoke this section :-

  1. The accused by words, either spoken or written or by sign or visible representations or otherwise:-
  • Made or published any imputation, that any class of persons by reason of their any religious, social cannot bear allegiance to the constitution
  • Asserted, counseled advised etc. that any class of persons by ground of religion, language, caste be denied citizenship or deprived of their citizenship rights
  • Made or asserted etc. that by reason of their being members of any social religious or others and such communication was likely to cause disharmony, feelings of enmity, hatred between them and others members of civilization.
  1. The above offences were committed in a place of public worship or others.

Section 154:- an owner or occupier of land on which an unlawful assembly is held.

In this, the owners or occupier of land or persons having or claiming an interest in land, criminally liable for intentional failure of their servants or managers in giving information to the public authorities.

  • Omission to give notice to the pblic authorities about the unlawful assembly or not.
  • Intentional failure to give information to the public authorities.
  • Abstention from taking adequate measures to suppress an unlawful assembly or not.

Section 155:- the liability of person for whose benefit riot is committed.

Section 155 of IPC fixes vicarious liability on the owners or occupiers of land or persons claiming interest in land for the acts or omission of their managers or agents, if a riot takes place or unlawful assembly is held in the interest of such class of persons. Its punishment up to the court according to the circumstances.

Section 156:- the liability of agent of owner or occupier for whose benefit riot is committed.

According to the IPC, to constitute an offence under this section it must be proved that

  • A riot was committed
  • The riot was committed for the benefit of the accused 
  • The accused had reason to believe that a riot was likely to be committed.
  • The accused did not take appropriate steps to prevent such riot.

Section 157:- Harbouring persons hired for an unlawful assembly.

In the case of Radharaman Shaha v. Emperor, held harbouring, receiving or assembling of persons hired etc. to join or become members of unlawful assembly, an offence.

For the conviction in this section:-

  • Persons must be hired
  • The accused must be aware of it
  • The accused must harbour, receive such persons to join or become members of an unlawful assembly.

Section 158:- being hired to take part in unlawful assembly or riot.

Section 158 is divided into two categories. In first, where the person hires or attempts to be hired himself as a member of an unlawful assembly, punishment may extend to 6 months of imprisonment or fine or both.

And second categories, if the accused is found armed with a deadly weapon, punishment may extend to imprisonment up to two years or fine or both.

Section 159:- affray

An affray is an offence against the public peace, because it is committed in a public place and is likely to cause general alarm and disturbance. There can be no affray in a personal place. A fight may be an assault or something more, but it is not an affray.


  • Fight between two or more persons
  • In a public place
  • The fight between must disturb the public peace.

Section 160:- punishment for committing affray

Section 160 gives the punishment up to one month imprisonment or fine up to 100 rupees or both for affray.


K.D. GUAR, THE INDIAN PENAL CODE [ As amended by the criminal law ( Amendment ) act, 2018]

Author: Madhvi Patidar

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