“with the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been hijacked by violent radical elements. Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda.” -US Attorney General William P. Barr’s
When force or violence combine with unlawful assembly in prosecution of an unlawful common object, it is said to commit Riot. It is a violent form of unlawful assembly. riots typically consist of disorganized groups that are frequently “chaotic and exhibit herd behavior. The objective of criminalization of unlawful assembly is to discourage tumultuous assemblage of persons in order to preserve the public peace. It prevents accomplice and the prerequisite for this provision is that there should have been an unlawful assembly as defined under section 141 of IPC, that the force and violence used by the assembly for the prosecution of common object, and finally the offence has been committed. It is to be noted that actual use of force or violence exists by any of its members. This common Object ease the responsibility of ascertaining and proving the guilt of individual member, without involving in the complicity of proving individual act.
Definition of Rioting
Section 146. Rioting
Whenever force or violence is used by an unlawful assembly, or by any member thereof, in prosecution of the common object of such assembly, every member of such assembly is guilty of the offence of rioting.
Section 147. Punishment for Rioting
Whoever is guilty of rioting, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 148. Rioting armed with deadly weapon
Whoever is guilty of rioting, being armed with a deadly weapon or with anything which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 146, IPC defines Riot unlawful conduct of 5 or more person together for the accomplishment of the unlawful common objective by using force or violence. The offence is mainly committed in pursuance of common object hence, each and every member are held liable for commission of riot. Where the common objective is not established by the prosecution, the accused would be entitled to be acquitted.
Lakshmiammal v Samiappa Goundan
The court in this case held that violence is wider and comprehensive and it also involves violence to property and inanimate object.
Essential Ingredients of Roiting
- Assembly of 5 or more person shall be unlawful;
- They were animated by a common unlawful object;
- Force or violence was used by unlawful assembly or any member thereof;
- That such force or violence was used in the prosecution of their common unlawful object.
Miku v State of UP
If the common object of an unlawful assembly is not illegal, it is not rioting even if the force is used by any member of that assembly is not illegal.
The court in the case of bharnwarlal And ors. v State of Rajasthan held that ‘where a number numer of men are accused and jointly tried then the court should consider the evidence against each accused separately and give definite finding against the presence of each of them.
Ananta Kathod Pawar v State of Maharastra (1997) 11 SCC 564
In this case it is further explained that the use of force by a person in sudden fight quarrel does not amount to rioting.
Liability of owner of land on which Riot takes place
Sec.154-156 deals with constructive liability on the person for whose benefit riot takes place. Sec.154 imposes criminal liability on the owner or occupier of land on which unlawful assembly is held.
Section 154. Owner or occupier of land on which an unlawful assembly is held.—
Whenever any unlawful assembly or riot takes place, the owner or occupier of the land upon which such unlawful assembly is held, or such riot is committed, and any person having or claiming an interest in such land, shall be punishable with fine not exceeding one thousand rupees, if he or his agent or manager, knowing that such offence is being or has been committed, or having reason to believe it is likely to be committed, do not give the earliest notice thereof in his or their power to the principal officer at the nearest police-station, and do not, in the case of his or their having reason to believe that it was about to be committed, use all lawful means in his or their power to prevent it, and, in the event of its taking place, do not use all lawful means in his or their power to disperse or suppress the riot or unlawful assembly.
Section 155. Liability of person for whose benefit riot is committed.—
Whenever a riot is committed for the benefit or on behalf of any person who is the owner or occupier of any land, respecting which such riot takes place or who claims any interest in such land, or in the subject of any dispute which gave rise to the riot, or who has accepted or derived any benefit therefrom, such person shall be punishable with fine, if he or his agent or manager, having reason to believe that such riot was likely to be committed or that the unlawful assembly by which such riot was committed was likely to be held, shall not respectively use all lawful means in his or their power to prevent such assembly or riot from taking place, and for suppressing and dispersing the same.
Section 156. Liability of agent of owner or occupier for whose benefit riot is committed.—
Whenever a riot is committed for the benefit or on behalf of any person who is the owner or occupier of any land respecting which such riot takes place, or who claims any interest in such land, or in the subject of any dispute which gave rise to the riot, or who has accepted or derived any benefit therefrom, the agent or manager of such person shall be punishable with fine, if such agent or manager, having reason to believe that such riot was likely to be committed, or that the unlawful assembly by which such riot was committed was likely to be held, shall not use all lawful means in his power to prevent such riot or assembly from taking place and for suppressing and dispersing the same.
In precise and simple words s.154 imposes liability on an owner or the occupier of land on which an unlawful assembly or riot has taken place for the failure of his servant or manager for not taking adequate legal measure to stop the commission of riot or unlawful assembly or fails to inform public authority regarding the occurrence of unlawful assembly or riot upon the land in possession of such owner or occupier. These failures can be further elaborate as-
- Failure to provided the earliest information to principle officer of the nearest police station.
- Intentional failure
- Failure to take adequate legal measures on its own to suppress or disperse or prevent riot or unlawful assembly
Here, as provided owners liability does not depend upon Servant or manager intention or act
No excuse granted to the owner of the land on the basis of his unawareness of occurrence of riot upon his land. Court will impose constructive liability on the owner or occupier. The penal code like other oversea statues provides for vicarious liability to deter people from committing crimes in the group and sparing the prosecution from the onerous task of providing specific actus reus accompanied with the requisite mens rea.
Essential of Section -155
- A riot is committed for the benefit of landowner or occupier
- Riot took place in respect of that land
- The accuse derive benefit from it
- The owner, occupier or his servant or manager has reason to believe or knowledge that such riot is likely to be committed
- Fails or intentionally fails to take adequate legal measures to suppress or disperse the riot or unlawful assembly.
Essential of Section – 156
- A riot was committed for the benefit of landowner or occupier.
- The accuse had reason to believe that riot was likely to be committed.
- The accuse failed to take adequate legal measures to prevent it.
 State of UP vs. Mahendra Singh AIR 1975 SC 455
 AIR1968 Mad 310
 Hazara Singh v State of Punjab (1971) 3 SCR 674
 AIR 1989 SC 67
 Hari Singh Gour, Penal Law of India, vol I, 10th edn, Law Publishers, Allahabad, 1987, p 234.
This Article is Written by Anu Priya, 3rd Year BA.LL.B Student at Kalinga University.
Also Read – Force, Criminal Force And Assault Under I.P.C. and Distinction Between Them – Explain