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  • Public gatherings are typically prohibited under Section 144 of CrPC.
  • Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code was routinely used by police forces around the country to quell large-scale public protests against the newly approved Citizenship Amendment Act.
  • The article gives to the roles, duties, and powers to District Magistrates to prevent such instances.


The Executive Magistrate of any state or territory can make an order prohibiting the assembly of four or more people in a certain place under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC). Those who participate in the 'illegal assembly' may be charged with rioting. After protests became violent between the Shiv Sena and BJP activists over the installation of a monument of Chhatrapati Shivaji at Ambedkar intersection in Bodhan, Telangana, Section 144 was enforced.


  • Public gatherings are typically prohibited under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973.
  • It empowers any state or territory's Executive Magistrate to make an order prohibiting the gathering of four or more individuals in a certain location.
  • Every member of such an "unlawful assembly" can be charged with rioting under the law. The maximum penalty for such an act is three years in prison.
  • Furthermore, hindering authorities from dispersing an unlawful gathering is a criminal offense.
  • Section 144 also prohibits the carrying of any weapon in the region where it has been enacted, and violators may be arrested.
  • Section 144 is used in emergency situations where there is a nuisance or a suspected threat of an incident that might create difficulties or harm to human life or property.
  • No order issued under Section 144 may be in effect for more than two months, although the state government may extend the validity for up to six months. If the situation returns to normal, it can be revoked at any moment.


  • The Executive magistrate must issue a written order that may be addressed to a specific individual, those dwelling in a certain location or region, or the general public while frequenting or visiting a specific location or area.
  • In an emergency, the magistrate can issue these orders without giving notice to the person who is the subject of the order.


The British Raj initially deployed Section 144 in 1861, and it quickly became a key instrument in the Freedom Struggle to quell any nationalist demonstrations. The usage of the section in Independent India, on the other hand, remains contentious, as nothing has changed.

In cases where a harmful incident is likely to occur, Section 144 is implemented. Despite its broad reach, it is most commonly used to restrict the gathering of one or more people. If there is an unauthorized assembly, those who are engaged will be charged with rioting. On behalf of the State Government, Section 144 authorizes a sub-divisional magistrate, district magistrate, or another executive magistrate to make an order to the general public or an individual in a specific location. The maximum penalty for rioting is three years in prison and/or a fine, according to Sections 141-149 of the Indian Penal Code. A member of an unlawful assembly can be held liable for the crimes committed by the group as a whole. Anyone who prevents an officer from carrying out his or her duty of dispersing an unlawful gathering shall face further penalties. Sections 20, 21, 22, 23, and 411of CrPC elaborately narrates the definitions and powers of the Executive magistrates.


A curfew is sometimes mistakenly considered to be the same as Section 144 of CRPC. Despite the fact that they are in sync, there are some basic disparities between them. A curfew is imposed in addition to Section 144, which shuts down all critical services save food shops, veggies, hospitals, banks, and ATMs.

The following are the distinctions between the two:

  • When the collector and police commissioner have the power, a curfew is imposed. Except for food stores, veggies, hospitals, banks, ATMs, and milk shops, all critical services are shut down in addition to section 144 of CRPC.
  • The nature of Section 144 of CRPC is typically prohibitive. It prohibits public gatherings but does not outrightly prohibit them.
  • A curfew, on the other hand, requires people to remain inside for a set amount of time. As a result, authorities may impose a curfew for a set length of time (However, the authorities can also extend the curfew if the need be).
  • Moving out during curfew requires prior consent from the local police.
  • Section 144 of CRPC prohibits public gatherings but not general gatherings, whereas a curfew requires individuals to remain indoors for a set length of time.
  • Under the curfew, schools, workplaces, marketplaces, and colleges are closed, but vital services remain open. The government also imposes traffic restrictions.


To begin with, the bulk of internet shutdowns in India are sanctioned by state governments, either for the entire state or for specific localities. A District Magistrate, a Subdivisional Magistrate, or any Executive Magistrate ordered by the state government issues the orders. Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973 is used to shut down the internet. This section's principal goal is to enact "temporary measures to safeguard public tranquilly." When implemented, one of its most regularly utilized rules prevents groups of four or more persons from congregating in a certain zone or area. The order is issued if the state government anticipates instances of public disturbance that might be harmful.


  • The magistrate has the authority to order someone to refrain from doing something or to follow a specified procedure with respect to property in his custody or under his administration.
  • This generally entails prohibitions on mobility, the carrying of guns, and unlawful gatherings.
  • It is widely assumed that Section 144 prohibits gatherings of four or more individuals.
  • It can, however, be used to impose restrictions on a single person.
  • When a magistrate believes it is probable to avoid or tends to prevent hindrance, irritation, or harm to any person lawfully engaged, or danger to human life, health, or safety, or a disruption of public calm, or a riot, or an affray, such an order is issued.
  • Unless the state government deems it essential, no order issued under Section 144 of CRPC can be in effect for longer than two months from the date of the order.
  • Even so, the overall duration of time cannot exceed six months.


However, we live in a society where even something as simple as this is debated due to official propaganda, WhatsApp forwards, and the focused effort of legions of social media trolls.

Of all, Kashmir was without an internet connection, and Section 144 restrictions have been in place for months without the Supreme Court intervening — implying that you can get away with this type of repression if you want to. The government of Jammu and Kashmir imposed restrictions in Srinagar under Section 144 CrPC, shutting down mobile, broadband Internet, and cable TV services. House arrest had also been imposed on state leaders Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, and Sajad Lone. Following this, Home Minister Amit Shah said in Parliament that Article 370, which granted J&K special status and autonomy, had been repealed as a result of the President's gazette order.

According to a government edict, "there shall be no public movement, and all educational institutions shall stay closed." All public transportation has been suspended, and educational institutions have been closed."

In the case of Anuradha Bhasin versus Union of India, the Supreme Court of India ruled in January 2020 that access to information via the Internet is a basic right under the Indian Constitution. Any government limitation on Internet access must be transitory, restricted in extent, legitimate, essential, and reasonable, according to the Court. Courts can indeed examine the government's orders barring Internet access. The idea was that the Internet would be suspended only in the most extreme circumstances, such as a public emergency or a threat to public safety.

In my opinion the blockage of Internet access to one result in curtailment of their right to speech. Additionally, such sections should only be applied for a short period, that too in the situation where without its application, the situation can’t be controlled. Summing up, section 144 should only be applied when there’s an immediate and extreme need and should be temporary in nature.


  • Babulal Parate vs State of Maharashtra Case of 1961.
  1. The magistrate must be satisfied that prompt prevention of specified activities is required to offset threat to public safety, etc.
  2. The power provided by the section can be used not only when there is a current threat, but also when there is a fear of harm."
  • Madhu Limaye case vs Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Monghyr and ors. of 1970
  1. The Supreme Court maintained Section 144's constitutionality, stating that it was a legitimate limitation 'in the interest of public order.'
  2. The Court did clarify, however, that this power should only be used in "emergency" and "urgent" cases.
  • Ramlila Maidan DT vs Home Secretary and Ors. case of 2012
  1. It may not be appropriate for the government to establish such a restriction on the citizen's rights based on mere apprehension without any substantive facts to demonstrate that the concern is impending and genuine.


  • The objection is that it is excessively broad, and the section's terms are broad enough to provide a magistrate total authority that might be used unjustifiably.
  • A revision application to the magistrate himself is the first recourse against such an order.
  • If a person's basic rights are being violated, he or she might file a writ petition before the High Court.
  • However, there are concerns that the rights may have already been violated before the High Court intervenes.


The Collector, often known as the District Magistrate, is the district's main executive. He is in charge of ensuring that the district's administration runs smoothly and efficiently. In India, the district is the most important administrative unit. The district administration's operations encompass a wide variety of topics and impact people's passions and interests on nearly every level. The district administration's primary responsibility is to develop programs with the active participation and support of the district's residents. As a result, the district administration has distinct characteristics. The government comes into close touch with the people here, and the issues that the district administration strives to resolve are mostly local in nature. The District Magistrate, is the central figure in the district administration. He is the principal point of contact for coordinating the activities of the district's official agencies. As a result, the District Magistrate's role and responsibilities may be roughly divided into three categories: Collector, Magistrate of the District's Ruler, and District Magistrate as the district's senior administrative officer.


Under Section 144 of the CrPC, a District Magistrate has been given broad authority to deal with emergency circumstances. It gives magistrates an omnibus authority to issue an order in circumstances of annoyance or suspected danger if the cases are urgent. A magistrate may use this power in the public interest in a variety of situations, as allowed under Section 144(1):

  • In situations where a quick fix is desired.
  • In circumstances where immediate prevention is required.

In addition, the magistrate must issue the order in writing, including the main facts of the case, and the order must be served in accordance with Section 134 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

  • He is in charge of hearing revenue appeals against judgments made by the Tahsildars and other subordinate tax collectors in the district. As a revenue Collector, he is responsible for collecting land revenue, maintaining property records, land reforms, and consolidating holdings, among other things. Revenue, excise, and the government treasury are all part of the Collector's revenue collecting role. It covers all of the individual things. The first group is land revenue assessment and collection.
  • The second group comprises of irrigation departments. Each season, the irrigation department prepares "demand lists of irrigation dues" and delivers them to the Collector or the Tahsildars. The Collector then collects it with the help of his revenue team.
  • The Income tax is the third component. Income tax authorities, who are in actuality under the control of the central government, do the evaluation here as well. They collect income tax directly; however, they certify the income tax arrears to the District Collector for recovery.
  • The agricultural income tax, which is likewise collected on the District Collector's orders, is the fourth component.
  • The fifth factor, sales tax, is likewise collected within the District Collector's power and duty, particularly for the recovery of arrears.
  • The court costs due in connection with different judicial actions, such as the filing of plaints, the issuance of writs and other process papers, and the certified copies of proceedings, were the sixth element. Taxes levied in the form of revenue stamps on papers are also included. In these matters, the District Collector has a strong voice.
  • The excise taxes of various types are the seventh element of these revenue annals. A member of the district officer's staff is recognized as the district officer's staff in the district. He is in charge of supervising and controlling the excise inspectors' work.


Section 144 of the CrPC of 1973 is a colonial-era provision that allows the executive magistrate to issue orders to avoid and rectify dangerous or nuisance situations. Section 144 was first employed by the British Raj in 1861.

Moreover, the article gives insights on the authority of a District Magistrate, which is both responsible and time-consuming. He is, as Ramsay MacDonald described it, the tortoise on whose back rested the elephant of the Indian administration.

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