The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is the primary legislation that throws light on the procedures for the administration o substantive criminal law in India. It provides the apparatus for the investigation of crime, apprehension of suspected criminals, collection of evidence, determination of guilt or innocence of the accused person and the determination of punishment of the guilty. It was commence in the year 1974 on April 1.
What is Section 144?
Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is the most sensible and is used very often. The Magistrates empowered are given out with great powers under this particular section generally to issue orders in acute cases of either nuisance or apprehended danger. Here “acute nuisance and apprehended anger” refers to the situations that either create or contain the ability to create an atmosphere of disruption among the people in a society or to cause danger to the public health, peace or safety. Under this section, authorities concerned are empowered to bar the assembly of five people or more in a specified jurisdiction or area which calls for the acuteness to imply the aforementioned section. Nonetheless, it is to be kept in mind that an order under this section can only be passed or issued by Magistrates of a specific class where in their esteemed opinion there would be ample grounds for proceeding under this section and an instant prevention or speedy remedy is advantageous, and an order u/s 144 of CrPC may be either directed towards any specific individual human being or to persons or a group who reside in a particular area or place or to the large public in general when patronizing or visiting a particular place or area.
Constitutionality of Section 144, CrPC
In the famous case of Madhu Likaye v. Sub Divisional Magistrate, Monghyr, Honorable Justice Hidayutallah contended that section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is not unconstitutional provided it is applied properly and the fact that the aforementioned section may be abused by someone like any other existing section does not give an ample ground or reason to strike it down as the provisions of the Code is properly understood are not in the overabundance of the limits mentioned in the Constitution for preventing the freedom guaranteed in it and that is precisely why the Honorable Court of Law held that section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is not unconstitutional but valid. Being the propriety of the order is open to challenges, it cannot be contended that with the reason of the wide magnitude of the power that section 144 gives out to certain magistrates, it places an unreasonable restriction on certain fundamental rights. The Communication of such vast powers on the Magistrate does not, amount to a contravention of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution of India.
What powers do the authorities have u/s 144?
When there are ample and need-of-the-hour situations is awaiting for Section 144 to be applied in order to provide immediate prevention and speedy remedy, the empowered Magistrates, may direct a person through writing an order, to abstain from doing a certain work; or to take certain order with regards to certain property in his possession or under his management.
An order u/s 144, CrPC may be passed ex-parte in cases of an emergency, or in cases where the situational circumstances do not admit of the serving in due time of a notice upon the person against whom the order is directed.
The order passed by such Magistrates does not apply restrictions only on movements but also includes forming of an unlawful assembly or transportation or handling of any weapons, arms, access to the internet etc., as per the requirement of the circumstances.
Either any Magistrate himself or by any Magistrate junior to him or by his predecessor-in-office revoke or make alterations in any order made under section 144 either on his own motion or by the application of any aggrieved person.
In a similar way, the State Governments may also revoke or make alterations to any order made by it on account of the extension of validity or duration of Section 144 under the provision to sub-section 4 of section 144 either on his own motion or by the application of any aggrieved person.
Duration of Section 144
An order by any Magistrate passed u/s 144, CrPC cannot remain in force for a period extending two months counted from the date of such an order being passed. However, upon the discretion of the State Government, the period of two months may be extended to the maximum time period of six months from the date of termination of the prior order.
Pretext for application of Section 144
The Pretext or grounds for any Magistrate to make such an order is either prevent or likely to prevent the following situations:
In a situation that illustrates to creates hatred or violence among the people residing in a society, for which the law and order; and peace are disturbed or is likely to be disturbed automatically, a Magistrate may pass an order u/s 144, CrPC to prevent such a situation or is likely to prevent such a situation.
Under this pretext, it is believed that the Magistrate must make sure that passing of such an order u/s 144 is as a matter of fact to prevent or is likely to prevent the disobedience of any former passed order like public orders, government orders, court orders etc, or to prevent or likely to prevent any such activities that are hampering the law and order; and peace in any circumstances.
Injury to any person who is employed lawfully
For section 144 to be applicable here, the injury must be caused or laid to the person who is engrossed in the performance of their assigned or designated duties under lawful employment.
Disturbance of Public Tranquility
Disturbance of Public Tranquility generally refers to a situation where any kind of activity or offence causes the disturbance of public orders and peace in society. The Magistrate before passing such an order must make sure that the situation is against the interests of the public at large and it is the need of the hour to impose section 144 keeping in mind the safety of the public by maintaining public tranquility.
Riots are the situation that causes civil unrest and generally portrays certain provoking behavior. The Magistrate before passing such an order must make sure that it is necessary to impose Section 144 otherwise there is no other way to prevent the force or violence and hatred used by the members who are involved in such an unlawful assembly.
Affray is more of a physical violence than verbal. The Magistrate must make sure it is necessary to impose section 144 to prevent the activities that are causing a sense of fear or terror among the people concerning bringing back peace among the members residing in society.
Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has turned out to be an impeccable provision in the legal history to help solve the situation in times of emergency, danger and times of nuisance. The most staggering fact about the said statute is that the orders issued under this section are pre-cognizant in nature which means certain reasonable restrictions can be applied upon specific actions or events, at times even before the occurrence of an event in order to prevent deadly or harmful events.
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