All You Need To Know About The Difference Between Section 144 and Curfew

As Section 144 and Curfew have been imposed in some areas of Delhi, all this unfortunate ongoing violence has left many people confused about the difference between ‘Section 144’ and ‘Curfew.

The violence in North East Delhi that started in Maujpur, on 23rd February and still continues. 20 people, including a police constable, have allegedly been killed.

What Is 144 And What Does The Law Say?

Section 144 of CrPC is imposed in any area or city due to riot, looting, arson or deteriorating situation in the city. This is a notification issued by the District Magistrate.

When implemented, no more than 5 people can gather in one place. Bringing and carrying weapons to that place is also prohibited. It prohibits public gatherings. One can also be arrested for violating it. 

If we read section 144 of Crpc, then it allows the magistrate to bar the movement of even a single individual, which is the extreme case, like a curfew. But in its general nature, Section 144 of Crpc can be read with Section 129 of Crpc, which describes that assembly of 5 or more is not allowed when 144 comes into play.

(Refer to chapter X Section 129 and 144 of Crpc which deals with public order and unlawful assembly)

After the enforcement of Section 144, when the police stop any kind of illegal groups, then it is also considered a punishable offence. Such people can be booked and viewed as trying to promote riots. 

Punishment:

Violation of Section 144 is liable for punishment of up to two years of jail or fine or both. (Refer section 145 of IPC)

Can The Internet Be Shut Down Under Section 144?

Yes, to maintain public order. In the Anuradha Bhasin case (Kashmir Internet case- Bhasin Doctrine) and many other cases, the court allowed an internet ban with constant examination and review.

Your Social Media activity can be monitored, or it can even be restricted. Communication blockage can also be imposed, if it will strongly affect public order. 

What Is Curfew?

Curfew orders, on the other hand, are given if conditions of any place or city worsen. Under this, people must stay at home for a particular time or period. It is believed that it can prove to be very helpful in handling any kind of violent situation.

At the same time, it is important to note that the order of curfew can be for a specific group or the general public. It prohibits any outdoor activity without prior approval of the police.

Only essential services are allowed, such as the opening of the market for the needs of everyday activity for some time, but schools are ordered to remain closed.

Section 144 is imposed before curfew is imposed, and you must reach your home within a fixed time limit. The curfew is also an order issued by the District Magistrate. At this time, there is a complete ban on traffic. It would not be wrong to say that curfew is an extended form of section 144.

However, with the prior permission of the police, you can move in reasonable cases.

Duration Of Section 144 Order

An order under section 144 can remain in force for two months, however, the concerned government can extend the validity for two months and maximum up to six months.

Also, it can be withdrawn at any time if the government considers the situation under control.

Relationship of Article 19 (1)(a) and Section 144 

Article 19(1) gives the right to assemble peacefully, and the right to speak and express, but if the government thinks that the situation is not in order, then Section 144 Crpc restricts the rights mentioned in Article 19 of the Constitution. (Refer Ram Manohar Lohia And Ors. vs V.S. Sundaram on 26 April 1955)

The author is an Advocate, and an Alumnus of CLC, Faculty of Law, Delhi University and Kirori Mal College, Delhi University.

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