• Legis Scriptor

Riot and Affray: Judicial Interpretation

Authored By : Amrutha Valli


The bare perusal of the two offenses makes it clear that while they are part of the same chapter in IPC, the two offenses come under the same category, but there are significant variations between the two, rioting being more severe than affray. Five or more persons are required to constitute rioting while in affray two or more persons are required. Illegal assembly is an integral element of rioting only in which each member is held liable.

Rioting and affray represent two separate offences against public peace. Sections 146 and 147 for rioting and 160 define affray. Both vary on different points such as location, amount of personal punishment etc.


Riot, affray, punishment, unlawful assembly, violence, prosecution, assault

Definition of rioting U/sec.146:

Every member of such assembly shall be guilty of the offence of rioting whenever force or violence is used by an unlawful assembly, or by any member thereof, in prosecuting the common object of such assembly.

Ingredients of rioting:

Ø Unlawful assembly

Ø Use of force and violence

Ø By unlawful assembly or any member thereof

Ø In prosecution of common object

Case laws:

In Bhanwarilal ors vs. The State of Rajasthan held that "Where a number of persons have been tried jointly, the court will find the evidence against each of the accused separately and provide specific judgments about the involvement of each."

In Garib Singh and others vs. State of Punjab (1973), the Court held that "In the event of a riot, where a number of people are charged, the magistrate should deal separately with the case of each of the accused or discuss the evidence against each of the accused, particularly when the evidence against each of the accused is by no means equally solid."

Definition of Affray U/sec. 159:

When two or more persons, by fighting in a public place disturb the public peace they are said to commit an affray.

Essentials of affray:

Ø Two or more persons

Ø Fighting

Ø Public place

Ø Consequence disturbance of public peace

Ø Punishment for committing affray U/SA 160

Characteristics of affray:

Ø An affray accusation includes both sides as guilty individuals, as the crime was committed by both the combat parties.

Ø It's an crime that can be bailed.

Ø This is an offence that is not compoundable.

Ø The 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure has now turned it into a known crime.

Ø This can be tried by any court, and is summarily triable.

Case laws:

· Jagannath Sah [(1937)] O.W.N.37.]

Two brothers quarreled on a public road in a town and insulted one another. A large crowd gathered around them. But no real fight broke out between them, even the traffic was jammed. It was held that there had been no affray committed.

· Babu Ram and Anr. vs. emperor [(1930)] I.L.R. 53. ALL.229.]

Two other men assaulted a individual and were overwhelmed in a public location. He never could protect himself. We were found guilty of the crime because there was combat in public areas that threatened the unity of the country.

Difference between affray and riot:

o Riot is the use of force or intimidation used by an unconstitutional assembly (which is an assembly of five per-sons or more) or by any of its members in the enforcement of the assembly's common objects.

o At the other hand, an affray is committed by two or more people battling in a public place when they threaten the peace of the public. Therefore there may not be the specific purpose in the affray situation to disrupt public peace.

o For summary, a riot is distinct from an affray, as:

o (1) A riot may be committed only by five or more persons, while two or more persons may commit an affray.

o (2) Even in a private location, a crime may be committed, but it cannot be conducted in a private area.

o (3) In a riot every member of the unlawful assembly shall be punishable, although some may not have used force or violence personally; this is not the case in the case of an affray, since only those who are actually engaged are liable.

o (4) The punishment imposed in the case of a riot shall be imprisonment for two years, or both, but in the case of an affray it shall be up to Rs 100 or both for one month or for a fine.


Public order is not just any other issue in the country's governance, it is its heart, comprising one of the crucial aspects on which democracy rests and the essential domain of our nation as a whole's foundations.

Section eighth of the Indian Penal Code deals with public tranquility offences. Those are crimes committed against society as a whole which threaten society's harmony which tranquility. Any crime committed against an person but still capable of deranging public peace will fall within the scope of a criminal offence.

In addition, it is not necessary to commit actual offence, but even if there is a possibility of causing public disorder, it is a punishable offence.

These crimes are divided into four, i.e. Unlawful assembly, rioting, affray, and enmity among different groups. We are all close to each other to some extent with slight variations.

Nonetheless, some changes are required to bring these laws in line with changing times.






Footnote : [1] Jagannath sah [(1937)] O.W.N.37.] [2] Babu ram and anr vs. emperor[(1930)] I.L.R.53.ALL.229.]