Rioting and Affray- offences against public peace and tranquility
This article draws the comparison between the offences contained in chapter VIII of IPC. For further clarity on any point, you may write to our top lawyers in tricity.
The offences against the public tranquility are included in Chapter VIII of IPC.
An Affray is said to be committed when two or more person start fighting or indulge into a scuffle in a public place which eventually causes disturbance to public peace and tranquility. There cannot be affray till the second party does not resist it and/or respond to the assault by the first party. An affray cannot be committed in a private place. Affray is a cognizable and bailable offence and is non-compoundable and is triable by the magistrate.
The legal provision for affray is entailed Section 159 IPC. The said section reads as under:
“When two or more persons, by fighting in a public place, disturb the public peace, they are said to “commit an affray”.”
There are three important elements to constitute affray are (i) Two or more persons should fight, (ii) in a public place, (iii) disturbing the public peace.
- Two or more persons should fight: There cannot be affray if a single person commits the damage to the public property or threatens the public peace. For an affray to be committed, there must be actual fight wherein there is exchange of blows between two or more persons. Mere verbal abuse and threats or usage of harsh words by two parties in public place does not amount to affray.
- The conflict must be in a Public place: A public place for this purpose is a place which has no boundary walls and is open to the public access for amusement or recreational activities. In the words of Blackstone “Affray is the fighting of two or more persons in some public place, to be error of His Majesty’s subjects for if the fighting be in private it is no affray but an assault.”
- Must disturb the public peace: For affray to be constituted the fight between two people in a public place must disturb the public peace and tranquility.
The Punishment for affray is mentioned in Section 160 IPC. The said section reads as follows:
“Whoever commits an affray shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to one hundred rupees, or with both.”
The offences related rioting and its punishment are entailed in section 146 and 147 IPC respectively whereas section 148 IPC deals with the much serious form of rioting wherein there is apprehension of death. As per the section 146 IPC, rioting is said to be committed when more than 5 persons assemble unlawfully and engage in acts of force or violence in the pursuance of a common goal. To understand the concept of unlawful assembly it must be understood that:
- there should be a group of 5 or more persons
- they must assemble in pursuance of common goal
- Must engage in acts of force or violence which is unlawful in nature.
Even being part of the unlawful assembly wherein the mob commits such acts shall also attract the punitive provisions for the same offence. In other words, only being part of that very mob is enough to be charged with rioting. Section 146 IPC reads as under:
“Whenever force or violence is used by an unlawful assembly, or by any member thereof, in prosecution of the common object of such assembly, every member of such assembly is guilty of the offence of rioting.”
The term force is used in reference to the force used against the persons and may extend to things or property whereas violence is much wider term. Rioting is bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable offence and can be tried by any Magistrate. The punishment for rioting is mentioned in Section 147 IPC. The said section reads as follows:
“Whoever is guilty of the offense 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.”
It is to be noted that above provision is in accordance when the rioting is not with deadly weapon or there is no threat to life of person. The punishment changes when there is threat to life. Provisions for such are contained in Section 148 IPC. The said section reads as under:
- 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 three years, or with fine, or with both.”
It must be noted here, that the penalty as prescribed under this section is more severe for the reason that the member of such unlawful assembly is armed with a weapon which leads to the apprehension of causing death. However, in the event a person is not armed with a deadly weapon but armed with something which does not cause the threat to life, the provisions of this section cannot be attracted.
Thus, bare perusal of both the offences makes it clear that although they are part of the same chapter in IPC, there are though both the offences fall under the same Chapter, but there exist substantial differences between the two, rioting being more serious offence than affray. There is requirement of five or more persons to constitute rioting whereas in affray requires two or more persons. Unlawful assembly is an essential ingredient of rioting only wherein each member is made liable. In rioting the use of force and violence is against the public at large whereas affray requires the fight between two or more individuals which disturbs public peace and tranquility and the liability is on the individuals actually engaging in fight . As compared to Affray where offence has to be committed in public place, a riot can be committed in private or public place.
The best lawyers of the law firm provide legal assistance to the individual clients who require legal know-how to deal with such matters.