UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY

ABSTRACT

If any assembly turns or can cause injury to property, person or public order then such type of assembly is termed as an “Unlawful Assembly”.

As stated in the famous case of “Moti Das v State of Bihar”[1] the Hon’ble Court held that the assembly which was lawfully started, but somehow became unlawful at that moment when the members of that assembly called other member to assault the victim and his co-workers and in the response to the invitation to all the members of that assembly they all started chasing the victim while he was running.

The term of Unlawful Assembly is clearly defined under Section 141 of Indian Penal Code,1860 as an assembly that have five or more than five persons who all have a common intention to perform any offence.

ESSENTIALS FOR UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY

As per the section 141, the minimum number of people to be there is 5 and they should have at least one or more common objects as mentioned in the points below to constitute an unlawful assembly. Any law in India does not declare any assemblage of men, immaterial to its strength as illegal, but its declared illegal only if they all have a common object to commit any offence or any illegal act.

As stated in the case of “Sheikh Yusuf v Emperor”[2] the court held that the word “object” resembles with the purpose to do a thing aimed at and the court added that the object should be common among the person who forms the association. Also in the case of “Bhanwar Singh v State of M.P.”[3] the common objective is dependent on two thing:

  1. If the object can be defined under those mentioned in section 141 of IPC.
  2. And the common object may or may not be pre decided. It may also be a decision taken by the crowd at the moment. 
  3. Also the nature of such common object has to take in consideration the nature of assembly, the behavior of the members, the nature of arms etc.

THE COMMON OBJECT SHOULD BE ONE OF THAT OBJECT THAT IS SPECIFIED IN THE SECTION

  1. TO OVERAWE GOVERNMENT BY CRIMINAL FORCE

The term “overawe” means to create a situation of fear in the mind of other individuals. This situation is when a public procession tends to overawe government with the use of force like that happened in the case of Stone pelters in Kashmir region to show their protest against the government

As stated in the case of “Durga Dass Sohanlal And Ors. vs The State of Punjab”[4] the accused was charged against unlawful assembly as he and some other people were responsible for pelting stones at police officers one duty.

2. TO REPEL AN EXECUTION OF ANY LEGAL PROCESS

Any type of resistance by any assembly against a legal process, for example the famous case of large number of people restraining arrest order of Baba Ram Rahim by court was an illegal act and all the assembly associated in this act where declared as unlawful assembly under Section 144 of Indian Penal Code.

3. TO COMMIT ANY OFFENCE

When an assembly of five or more person have a common object to perform an act which known to be prohibited by law or is considered an offence under the Indian Penal Code, then such assembly will be called as an Unlawful Assembly

As stated in the case of “Bala Seetharamaiah v. Perike S. Rao and Others”[5] the Hon’ble Court held all the accused guilty for unlawful assembly because they all had a common object that was the murder of Buddah Prasad.

4. FORCIBLE DISPOSSESSION OR POSSESSION OF PROPERTY

If in an any case criminal force is used by any assembly to deprive any individual from the enjoyment of his right to way or right to use of water or any other right that the person can enjoy and have the possession of or the criminal force is used to obtain the possession of any property or to impose such rights. All these acts are prohibited under the clause 4 of section 141 of Indian Penal Code.

5. TO FORCE ANYONE TO DO ILLEGAL ACTS

If any assembly forces anyone by using criminal force to perform or to be a part of any illegal act then that assembly would be declared as a unlawful assembly.

DISPERSAL OF AN UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY

Section 132 provides protection to persons to who had done any act in the persuasion of their power under section 129, 130 and 131.As per section 132(1), no prosecution shall lie against any person,for any act done pertaining to section 129, 130 and 131, in any Criminal Court except:

  1. with the prior permission of the Central Government where the person is an officer or member of the armed forces;
  2. with the prior permission of the State Government in any other case.

According to section 132(2) following persons shall be deemed have committed no offence:

  1. an Executive Magistrate or a police officer acting in good faith under any of the said section;
  2. a person acting in good faith in compliance with a requisition under section 129 or 130;
  3. the officer of the armed forces acting in good faith under section 131;
  4. the member of the armed forces doing any act in conformity with the order he is bound to obey.

Sections 129,130,131 and 132 of Crpc 1973 mentions the dispersal of unlawful assembly: 

Section 129 has mentioned the dispersal of assembly by the civil force:

Any Executive Magistrate or officer in charge of a police station or, in the absence of such officer in charge, any police officer, not below the rank of a sub-inspector, may, command any unlawful assembly or any assembly of five or more persons likely to cause a disturbance of the public peace, to disperse; and it shall thereupon be the duty, of the members of such assembly to disperse accordingly”.[6]

If, upon being so commanded, any such assembly does not disperse, or if, without being so commanded, it conducts itself in such a manner as to show a determination not to disperse, any Executive Magistrate or police officer referred to in sub-section (1), may proceed to disperse such assembly by force, and may require the assistance of any male person, not being an officer or member of the armed forces and acting as such, for the purpose of dispersing such assembly, and if necessary, arresting and confining the persons who form part of it, in order to disperse such assembly or that they may be punished according to law”.[7]

Section 130 states the use of armed forces to disperse the assembly.

(1)“If any such assembly cannot be otherwise dispersed, and if it is necessary for the public security that it should be dispersed, the Executive Magistrate of the highest rank who is present may cause it to be dispersed by the armed forces”.[8]

(2) “Such Magistrate may require any officer in command of any group of persons belonging to the armed forces to disperse the assembly with the help of the armed forces under his command, and to arrest and confine such persons forming part of it as the Magistrate may direct, or as it may be necessary to arrest and confine in order to disperse the assembly or to have them punished according to law”.[9]

(3)“Every such officer of the armed forces shall obey such requisition in such manner as he thinks fit, but in so doing he shall use as little force, and do as little injury to person and property, as may be consistent with dispersing the assembly and arresting and detaining such persons”.[10]

In the case, “Re-Ramlila Maidan Incident v Home Secretary And Ors,”[11] Personnel of the Rapid Action Force as well as the Central Reserve Police Force were called upon for dispersing the assembly of protestors gathered at Ramlila Maidan.

The power of Certain Armed officers is stated in section 131:

“When the public security is manifestly endangered by any such assembly and no Executive Magistrate can be communicated with, any commissioned or gazetted officer of the armed forces may disperse such assembly with the help of the armed forces under his command, and may arrest and confine any persons forming part of it, in order to disperse such assembly or that they may be punished according to law; but if, while he is acting under this section, it becomes practicable for him to communicate with an Executive Magistrate, he shall do so, and shall thenceforward obey the instructions of the Magistrate, as to whether he shall or shall not continue such action”.[12]


[1] AIR 1954 SC 657

[2] AIR 1946 Pat. 127

[3] AIR 2008 16 SC 657

[4] AIR 1960 P H 271

[5]  1997 CrLJ 1107

[6] Section 129 (1) of Criminal Procedure Code

[7] Section 129 (2) of Criminal Procedure Code

[8] Section 130 (1) of Criminal Procedure Code

[9] Section 130 (2) of Criminal Procedure Code

[10] Section 130 (3) of Criminal Procedure Code

[11] AIR 2012 5 SCC1

[12] Section 131 of Criminal Procedure Code

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