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Section 144 of the CrPC

Section 144 of the CrPC

Why in news?

  • The Karnataka government imposed fresh restrictions after the state reported 21,794 new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases, a record single-day spike.
  • For the enforcement of social distancing, Commissioners of Police/Deputy Commissioners may, use the provisions of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973

What is Section 144?

  • It was enacted in 1973.
  • It is imposed in a given region in emergency situations or cases of nuisance or perceived danger of some event that has the potential to damage human lives or property or create a troubling situation. In other words, we can say it prohibits public gathering.
  • Section 144 CrPC, a law retained from the colonial era, empowers a district magistrate, a sub-divisional magistrate or any other executive magistrate specially empowered by the state government in this behalf to issue orders to prevent and address urgent cases of apprehended danger or nuisance.
  • The magistrate has to pass a written order which may be directed against a particular individual, or to persons residing in a particular place or area, or to the public generally when frequenting or visiting a particular place or area.
  • In emergency cases, the magistrate can pass these orders without prior notice to the individual against whom the order is directed.

Duration of Section 144

  • As per rules, no order under this section shall remain in force for more than two months from the making thereof.                        Section 144 of the CrPC
  • For preventing danger to human life, health or safety or from any riot or from an affray, the state government can take decision if necessary and according to the situation choose to extend the validity for two more months with the maximum validity extendable to six months.
  • When the situation becomes normal it can be withdrawn.

What powers does the magistrate have under the section144?

  • The Magistrate can ban any person from undertaking certain activities.
  • It can also issue a certain order concerning the specific property in his possession or under his management.
  • It mostly involves the restriction of movement, carrying arms or items that can cause harm to life and property and from assembling unlawfully.                    Section 144 of the CrPC
  • It is generally believed that the assembly of three or more people is prohibited under Section 144.
  • However, it can be used to restrict even a single individual.
  • Such order can be imposed when the magistrate considers it is likely to prevent, or tends to prevent, obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person or cause harm to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance to public tranquillity.

Issues with Section 144

  • The provision is too broad.
  • This gives absolute power to the magistrate that can be used in an unjustifiable way.
  • Revision application to the magistrate him/ herself is the only immediate remedy against this order.
  • If an individual’s fundamental rights are at stake, he/ she can file a write petition and approach the High Court.
  • There is still a fear of the rights been infringed before the intervention of the High Court.

 

 

Mussoorie Times

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