Criminal Trident Pack: IPC, CrPC and IEA by Sr. Adv. G.S Shukla and Adv. Raghav Arora
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  • Though many people consider Holi as a festival of happiness, many crimes occur on this day.
  • Year by year, the number of police distress calls are also increasing during Holi.
  • Due to intoxication because of alcohol and bhang, people end up committing serious crimes like murder, hurt and grievous hurt.
  • Offences against women such as outraging the modesty of women, rape, and murder especially increase.
  • Practise of gambling and illegal consumption of drugs even significantly rise and incidents of women being are tricked into intoxication by spiking of their food or drinks is common.


Holi, the festival of colours, which is an important part of the Indian culture has a dark side as well. We generally celebrate the festival with friends, family, and people that we love. Some people take advantage of this festive period and commit some heinous crimes going from drug consumption, excessive alcohol consumption, drunk driving, sexual advances towards women, assault, and many more. The rates of crimes committed during Holi have been increasing each year and the same has been a major concern as during the commission of the crimes public security is at stake. Police officials have used tactics by being disguised in public places such as parks, gardens, railway stations, common locations where these incidents commonly occur. They try their best to prevent the occurrence of crimes and maintain public security. The citizens also have to work with the police to make the festival of Holi safe and keep the values of the festival intact.

We will briefly discuss various offences that are committed during Holi and degrade the true essence of the festival.


In 2016, the Gurgaon police control centre had received more than 380 calls complaining about the sexual harassment meted to women on the streets during Holi. Several ladies complained to the police about guys messing with them on the streets or forcibly touching and applying colour on them. In 2017, it was reported that the top reason for which the Lucknow police had received distress calls during Holi was harassment of women.


Eve-teasing in common parlance can be understood as sexual harassment of women and girls in public places. When a man subjects a woman to obscene body language or shouts negative and sexual comments which are directed towards her or show her any obscene object or any picture, he is said to be eve-teasing the woman. The following acts mentioned in the Indian Penal Code fall within the ambit of Eve- teasing:

a. Singing, reciting, uttering an obscene song, ballad, words which annoy of others (Section 294)

b. Intruding upon the privacy of a woman through obscene gestures, indecent body language, and unpleasant words which were made with the intention of being heard by the woman towards whom theacts are directed (Section 509).

Holi, a Hindu festival in which participants "drench one another in coloured water, ingest intoxicants, and indulge in amorous play," has also been linked to a sexually charged milieu in which men get away with unwelcome sexual approaches toward women while playing Holi. During the Holi celebration, taunting ladies and tossing water balloons at them is encouraged and frequently practised which mostly results in eve-teasing. Under Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, eve-teasing is an offence and is punishable with imprisonment for one year or fine or even both.

Eve-teasingis reported to have occurred near schools and other educational institutes also. These crimes are generally done by perpetrators who pretend to be school students and enter the campuses then commit the offence of eve-teasing. In certain cases, the students encounter these perpetrators and report them to the police which helps the police officials to track them down. Campuses have increased their security by giving students identity cards to enter the campuses making it a little safer by preventing the perpetrators from entering these campuses.

Outraging the modesty of a women

‘Modesty’ refers to the dignity of a woman which is acquired by her since her birth. The Supreme court has referred to the modesty of a woman as her sex. The term ‘outraging’ means any harmful physical act against a woman. A person using assault or unlawful force against a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty or with the knowledge that he is likely to outrage her modesty is said to be committing an offence under Section 354 of the IPC. The two primary components for the constitution of the offence of outraging the modesty of the woman are:

(i) Assault on a woman or the use of illegal force against her.

(ii) The intent or awareness of the actor that he was committing the said offence.

In State of Punjab v Major Singh, AIR 1967 SC 63, the accused had abused the epithelial duct of a seven-and-a-half-year-old child. While the High Court of Patna and Haryana held that the child’s modesty could not be outraged, the Supreme Court had overruled the verdict. It was held that a girl child acquires her modesty from birth itself and the accused was held to be guilty. There are several provisos under section 354 of the IPC, which further specify and cover all aspects of the offence of outraging the modesty of a woman.

a) Section 354A: Sexual harassment is described as a man engaging in any of the following acts:

i. uninvited and explicit sexual overtures;

ii. a demand or request for sexual favours;

iii. showing pornography against the will of the woman;

iv. making sexually coloured remarks.

b) Section 354B: Assault is the use of illegal force against a woman with the goal of disrobing her, i.e., removing her clothing or forcing her to be naked. The intention of the male to outrage the modesty of the woman is the sine qua non for the constitution of the offence. The mala fide of the offender plays a pivotal role in convicting him.

c) Section 354C: Voyeurism is defined as a man seeing or photographing a woman engaged in a private act or in circumstances where she would not normally expect to be viewed by the perpetrator or by anyone else acting. Further, the distribution of any image obtained by the perpetrator in the course of the offence also constitutes the offence of Voyeurism.

Uttam Kamble had chronicled the history of upper-caste men sexually exploiting devadasi women during the Okali festival, which was synonymous with the festival of Holi. He had documented "sexual advances on Dalit women by the landlords andaristocrats during Holi festival, as well as incidences of their rape and molestation" were a common occurrence.


Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape as the offence where a man has sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent.Man is said to have committed rape against a woman when:

(i) He forcibly gains her consent by threatening her,

(ii) He gains her consent on the pretext of deception,

(iii) He has intercourse with a girl who is under 16 years of age.

In the case of Lalasa Devi, Lalasa Devi was raped when she was out in the field relieving herself, by an upper-caste man during the festival of Holi.

In the case of 5 Whether It Is To Be Circulated To ... vs State Of ... on 20 June 2014 (R/CR.A/928/2009,0) a man had raped a nine-year-old child and inflicted injuries in her private parts on the day of Holi when she had gone out to play. He hadalso threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the incident.

Domestic Violence

A total of 102 cases of domestic violence were reported over distress calls to Lucknow Police during Holi. Domestic violence is the cruel and inhumane treatment meted to a woman by her husband or relative of her husband.Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code provides that the offence of domestic violence would be penalized with imprisonment for a period of up to three years, along with a fine.



The cases of robbery also rise exponentially during the time of Holi. The target of the criminals is the victims who are either intoxicated or are in crowded places where the victim can easily rob them without their knowledge. In common parlance, robbery refers to the forced deprivation of a person's personal property. The presence of impending fear of violence is the most differentiating feature among robbery, theft, and extortion. Robbery is defined in Section 390 of the Indian Penal Code as the following:

  • The act of putting the victim in fear of death, grievous hurt or wrongful restraint while the commission of theft
  • While committing extortion, the offender puts a person in fear of death, wrongful restraint or grievous hurt which causes them to deliver the possession of the thing extorted.

Robbery is punishable under Section 392 of the Indian Penal Code of 1860 with rigorous imprisonment, which may be prolonged up to 10 years, as well as a fine.

Hurt & Grievous Hurt

During the celebration of Holi, people play with water and colours. Often accidents occur while throwing plastic balloons or bags filled with water which have short particles that can harm the eyes of the victim. These incidents, sometimes, even lead to partial blindness and other serious issues. Mumbai which uses the railway as a lifeline faces many incidents of search balloon related issues in areas such as Malad, Goregaon, Jogeshwari, Ghatkopar, Kurla, Sion, Bhandup and many more. These incidents depending upon the graveness of injury sustained by the victim constitute the offence of hurt and grievous hurt.

When any person inflicts bodily pain, disorder or disease which is harmful to any man or woman, they are said to have caused hurt. Under Section 319 of the IPC following are the essentials of hurt are:

  • Bodily Pain - According to Section 319 of the Indian Penal Code, anyone who causes bodily pain, disorder, or disease to someone is considered to be hurting them. There should be physical pain only as mental pain does not constitute hurt. As a result, injuring someone mentally or emotionally will no longer be considered "harm" under Section 319. However, it is not always necessary for any visible injury to occur at the suffering to be protected under this rule. The section only considers the infliction of bodily pain. The degree or severity of the aching or pain isnot a factor forthe determination of the constitution of the offence. The length of the soreness or agony is irrelevant. Pulling a girl’s hair also amounts to simple hurt.
  • Infirmity to another - A state of transitory intellectual impairment, hysteria, or dread would be considered sickness under the meaning of this phrase in the said section. It happens when an organ is unable to perform its routine functions. It can be provided through the ingestion of a harmful or dangerous chemical or the ingestion of alcohol administered by someone else.
  • Disease - When the illness or disease is transmitted from one person to another by touch, the offence of hurt is said to be committed. This concept, however, becomes unclear when a sexual disease is transmitted from one person to another.
  • Intention or Knowledge - When it comes to inflicting harm on another person, the mens rea of the accused is pivotal. Any bodily soreness caused can be covered by the 'damage' clause. When the death of the victim occurs, the accused may be held guilty of inflicting the most effective injury, even if the harm is not always severe and there is no intent to cause death or grave pain.

There are special types of Hurt which are categorized as Grievous Hurt. Under Section 320 of the IPC, the following fall under the ambit of grievous hurt:

  1. Emasculation,
  2. Permanent injury to eyesight or either of the eye,
  3. Permanent deafness or injury to either of the eye,
  4. Privation of any member or joint (loss of limb),
  5. Impairing of Limb,
  6. Permanent disfiguration of the head or face,
  7. Fracture or dislocation of a bone or tooth,
  8. Any injury that puts the victim's life in jeopardy or renders him unable to carry on his normal activities for twenty days.


Murder is an act that is carried out with the goal of causing death and is defined under Section 300 of the IPC. The conduct is carried out with the goal of causing bodily injury which the criminal is aware will result in death. It is punishable under Section 302 of the IPCwith the imposition of capital punishment, life imprisonment or fine.

In the case of 5, Whether It Is To Be Circulated To ... vs State Of ... on 7 April 2014, (R/CR.A/333/2009, CAV), a man had killed his wife with an axe as he believed her to be cheating on him. He had taken her to an isolated location on the pretext of shopping for Holi and killed her. He was convicted for the offence of murder and punished accordingly.

In Arjun V. The State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi), 2015, on the day of Holi, the deceased and the accused had a disagreement, and later that day, the accused had stabbed and killed the deceased with the help of another accused. The trial court charged them with the offence of murder under Section 304 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

Noise Pollution

During the celebration of Holi, at parties, loud music is played which causes noise pollution. During Holiof 2017, Lucknow police stations had received 136 distress calls complaining against noise pollution.

Noise pollution comes under public nuisance under Section 268 of the IPC. A person is guilty of a public nuisance who does an act or is guilty of an illegal omission which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to the public or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right. A common nuisance cannot be excused on the ground that it causes some convenience or advantage.


Gambling leading to Hurt, Grievous Hurt, Assault

Gambling is the act of putting something of worth on an uncertain outcome in the hopes of winning something else of value.The Public Gambling Act of 1867 is a federal statute that forbids the operation or management of a public gambling establishment and bans gambling. A fine of Rs.200 or up to three months in prison is the penalty for breaching this law.

During Holi, gambling is done in private parties accompanied by alcohol drugs consumption and sale. These parties have been a hotspot for many cases waiting for hard drugs and extensive consumption of alcohol. These can lead to situations where people can get into possible fights which lead to assault.

Drugs& Alcohol Consumption

The consumption of drugs and liquor is done majorly during the festival of Holi and despite the government banning the legal sale of intoxicants, people purchase alcohol and drugs on Holi legally. With these, bhang is also consumed as a part of a festivity. Bhang is illegal yet it is sold in various shops in the name of the festival. Other than cases of consumption of intoxicants, there are cases in which females are unknowingly drugged by spiking their drinks. This makes them vulnerable as they are intoxicated by the drugs.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) was passed in India's Parliament, and it prohibits anyone from producing, manufacturing, cultivating, possessing, selling, purchasing, transporting, storing, or consuming any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. It also aims to ensure the quality of drugs manufactured, mandate the display of drug ingredients, and prevent drug abuse in society. Until 1985, cannabis and its derivatives (marijuana, hashish/charas, and bhang) were allowed to buy and use recreationally. Cannabis use was not recognised as a socially aberrant activity and was compared to alcohol use; ganja and charas were considered poor man's intoxicants, while the wealthy people drank bhang on Holi.

Drinking and Driving

As we know alcohol consumption leads to many drunk driving cases which are punishable by the law and are witnessed not only during Holi but on Diwali, New Year’s, etc. During Holi, in 2017, Lucknow police had reported up to 1,023 actions in three days. Accidents during Holi are usually caused due to drinking and driving.

Drinking and driving is an offence under section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 where it is provided that driving while inebriated or under the influence of narcotics is punishable with imprisonment for up to six months and/or a fine that extends up to two thousand rupees for the first offence.


Most of the offence that is committed on Holi like eve-teasing, gambling and consumption of intoxicants is not considered to be serious by the citizen. What is worse is that some even consider them as traditions and rituals that are necessary to be performed. Therefore, despite the efforts of the police, the crime rate is not descending. The citizens must not take part in these crimes and maintain law and order. They must look forward to celebrating the festival with family and loved ones and not use this celebration as an excuse to commit crimes. The government police officials work hard to prevent any of these crimes from occurring still with the help of the public more efficient prevention takes place. We should all remember that each of these crimes has certain repercussions and the perpetrators will be penalised by law and held accountable for the crimes that they commit. Hence the only thing that has to be kept in the mind is that we as citizens in a collective effort need to come together to maintain the true essence of the festival which was not to harm others or intrude on people’s personal space but to spread joy and promote a universal fraternity.

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