Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)


What is Section 144?

  • Section 144 CrPC empowers a district magistrate, a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) or any other executive magistrate to issue orders to prevent and address urgent cases.
  • Written orders passed under Section 144 may be directed to an individual, or to residents of  a particular area, or to the general public 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.

What are the restrictions imposed by Section 144?

  • Restrictions on movement, carrying arms and from assembling unlawfully.
  • It prohibits assemblies of five or more individuals.
  • It can also order mobile phone companies to block voice, SMS or internet communications in one or more small or large geographical areas.

What is the duration?

  • No order Section 144 can remain in force for more than two months from the date of the order, unless the state government considers it necessary.
  • Even then, the total period cannot to more than six months.

Impact on Fundamental Rights

  • The orders under this provision will lead to the infringement of fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression, assembly and movement guaranteed under Articles 19(1)(a),(b) and (c) of the Constitution. Hence, the orders under Section 144 have to meet the test of “reasonable restrictions” as per Article 19.

Difference between Section 144 and Curfew

Section 144 Curfew
This section basically provides the power to Executive magistrate or District Magistrate to pass an order in the interest of public. It is imposed when Section 144 is imposed along with essential services shut down.
It prohibits gathering of four or more people in the concerned area. During the curfew people are instructed to stay indoors for a particular period of time.

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