Section 144 of CrPC
Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC) of 1973 plays a very important role during the crisis in any state or the country as a whole. According to this law, the district magistrate of any territory or district has an exclusive authority to restrict and contain the amount of gathering in any public area. This is done to reduce and contain the probability of any disturbance during critical issues, such as riots or any other general emergencies.
When is Section 144 Activated?
Section 144 is a very critical ruling and is always preferred to avoid any tensions or public riots during times of national crisis. If the history of India is considered, Section 144 has been imposed on several occasions, which included very high-risk decisions from the courts or other judicial powerhouses, which have high chances of a public nuisance or common unrest among the masses.
What are the Features of Section 144?
The highlight of Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code is that any public gathering of four or more can be detained by the law enforcing agencies, and such gatherings are completely banned during this period when Section 144 is active. Apart from this, there is a total restriction on the possession of arms or weapons during this time, and if anyone is found violating the norms of this law, he or she can be imprisoned for a period up to three years.
Section 144 also states that during this particular period, no public gatherings or rallies should be conducted, and all the educational and commercial institutions should remain closed until further orders are executed.
Section 144 also empowers the law enforcement authorities to cut and restrict the access to internet for the safety and security of the whole community. In short, section 144 ensures that there are complete tranquility and peace in the affected area and no violent acts should occur in that specific period.
For how long can Section 144 be imposed?
Under no circumstances, the laws and regulations under Section 144 should continue for more than two months. However, the State Government has the exclusive authority to extend this period to a maximum of 6 months and can dissolve the authority if they feel that law and order are completely under control of the law enforcement authorities.
Recent implementation of Section 144
Most recently, Section 144 has been implemented in Jammu and Kashmir and various other states for reasonable reasons. Firstly, in the past couple of months, the entire governance of Jammu and Kashmir has gone through an uphill as the special status of the state has been revoked by the Central Government of India through a unanimous decision. Hence, to maintain peace and tranquility in the region, the state government, as well as the central government, decided to impose section 144 and control any unforeseen incidents, before it becomes a major setback for the peaceful governance of the region.
Apart from this, section 144 has also been implemented in various states on the occasion of the verdict of Ayodhya. The Ayodhya verdict has been long due, and for the last 70 years, it has been a matter of dispute between the two biggest religions of the country. Hence, to maintain law and order in the entire nation, the state governments of many states decided to impose 144.
How it is different from Curfew?
What is Curfew?
Talking about Curfew, it can be said that it is completely different from section 144. However, according to many lawmakers, the curfew can be seen as an extension to the provisions of section 144. The curfew orders are generated when there is a chance of excessive deterioration of the peace and tranquility in a region. In such cases, the police and other law enforcing agencies impose a curfew for a certain period. During this period, all the civilians are asked to stay at home, and all the institutions,except hospitals, are kept closed until the curfew is removed. During this time, the police and the army have the sole authority to arrest and investigate anyone if they find any suspicious activities.
Is Section 144 and Curfew the same thing?
As we have discussed earlier, the provisions of section 144 and curfew are not the same at all. To be precise, section 144 restricts and prohibits the public gathering of 4 persons or above, and the curfew restricts any public gatherings at all.
Apart from this, the time for both these regulations has a great difference between them. While, on the one hand, section 144 is imposed for an extended period; on the other hand, the curfews are normally imposed for a few hours or days.
The critical difference between both these regulations is that while on the one hand, the section 144 tries to prohibit any unwanted situations; on the other hand, the regulations of curfew empower the law enforcement authorities to take certain preventive measures to control any unforeseen and disturbing incidents.
What are the features of a Curfew?
The curfew restricts any person or organization from conducting any hunger strikes, rallies, or processions during the period when the curfew is active. However, people can get exempted if there is any examination, religious festivals or marital functions.
The curfew also prohibits a person or entity from carrying any weapons, bursting firecrackers, organizing speeches, and restricting the use of any music systems and loudspeakers in the said period.