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Section 144 CrPC

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 29, Apr 2022
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What is it?

This colonial-era law, which has been retained in the Code, empowers a district magistrate, a sub-divisional magistrate, or any other executive magistrate empowered by the state government, to issue orders to prevent and address urgent cases of apprehended danger or nuisance.

  • The written order by the officer may be directed against an individual or individuals residing in a particular area, or to the public at large.
  • In urgent cases, the magistrate can pass the order without giving prior notice to the individual targeted in the order. 

Powers under the provision:

  • The provision allows the magistrate to direct any person to abstain from a certain act, or to pass an order with respect to a certain property in the possession or under the management of that person.
  • This usually means restrictions on movement, carrying arms, and unlawful assembly.
  • It is generally understood that an assembly of three or more people is prohibited under Section 144. 


Orders passed under Section 144 remain in force for two months, unless the state government considers it necessary to extend it. But in any case, the total period for which the order is in force cannot be more than six months. 


  • The section is sweeping, and allows the magistrate to exercise absolute power unjustifiably.
  • Under the law, the first remedy against the order is a revision application that must be filed to the same officer who issued the order in the first place.
  • Aggrieved individuals argue that in many cases their rights would have already been violated by the state even before the High Court had intervened.
  • Imposing prohibitory orders over a very large area is not justified because the security situation differs from place to place and cannot be dealt with in the same manner. 

Supreme Court rulings:

1961 ‘Babulal Parate vs State of Maharashtra and Others’: Supreme Court refused to strike down the law, saying it is “not correct to say that the remedy of a person aggrieved by an order under the section was illusory”.

In 1967, the court rejected a challenge to the law saying “no democracy can exist if ‘public order’ is freely allowed to be disturbed by a section of the citizens”.

In 1970 (‘Madhu Limaye vs Sub-Divisional Magistrate’), the court said the power of a magistrate under Section 144 “is not an ordinary power flowing from administration but a power used in a judicial manner and which can stand further judicial scrutiny”.

  • The court, however, upheld the constitutionality of the law, ruling that the restrictions imposed through Section 144 are covered under the “reasonable restrictions” to the fundamental rights laid down under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

Why in the News?

Uttarakhand government has invoked Section 144 after the Supreme Court instructed the Uttarakhand government to give a commitment that there would be no “untoward situation” or “unacceptable statements” during a mahapanchayat that had been planned by Hindu religious leaders in the village on April 27. 

Need for:

Incendiary speeches against Muslims have been made by Hindu religious leaders at such gatherings previously, including one organised in Haridwar in December last year.