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Unlawful Assembly Under IPC

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Unlawful Assembly

Unlawful Assembly Under IPC

SECTION 141: Unlawful Assembly

I. Object of Section 141

  • To prevent the resort to criminal force by five or more to do any of the acts state herein below.

II. Ingredients

This section provides that an unlawful assembly is an assembly of five or more persons if their common object is  :

  1. To overawe by criminal force
  2. Central Govt.
  3. State Govt.
  4. The Legislature
  5. Any public servant in the exercise of lawful power.
  6. To resist the execution of law or legal process.
  7. To commit mischief, criminal trespass or any other offence.
  8. By criminal force
  9. To take or obtain possession of any property or
  10. to deprive any person of any incorporeal right or
  11. to enforce any right or supposed right
  12. By criminal force compel any person
  13. To do what he is not legally bound to do or
  14. to omit what he is legally entitled to do.

III. Assembly of five or more persons

  • Assembly maybe lawful at the time of its inception may become unlawful subsequently.
  • Pre-concert not essential, what may be initially lawful may become unlawful in course of it.
  • Does not become unlawful in case of self-defense.
  • Sudden altercation at the spur of moment, does not lead to unlawful assembly.
  • Accused must be a part of the unlawful assembly at the time it became unlawful.
  • Active participation or otherwise.
  • Every member need not perform an overt act.
  • Membership is sin qua non.

IV. Essence of Unlawful Assembly

  • The essence of an unlawful assembly is the common object of the persons forming the assembly.
  • Mere presence in an assembly does not make a person member of an unlawful assembly.
  • The persons who constitute the assembly must be aware of the common object and should concur on it.

V. Common Object

  • The common object shall be an unlawful one.
  • Mere common object is not sufficient to bring home the charge u/s. 141.
  • Has to be inferred from the facts and circumstances of the case.
  • Nexus between the common object and the offence committed.
  • Nature of injuries, type of weapon, manner and means of execution have to be taken into account for determination of object.
  • Acts incidental to the Common Object are committed to accomplish the same.
  • Can develop at spot.

VI. Overawing the Government or its Officers

  • To use criminal force to refrain the Government or its official to discharge their duty.
  • Inflict fear, awe or superior influence.
  • Mere presence of a crowd, does not necessary imply an intention to overawe another.

VII. Resistance to legal process

  • Resist any execution of any order of the court.
  • Create obstruction in completion of a legal process.

VIII. Commission of any Offence

  • Common object to commit mischief, criminal trespass and any other offence.
  • Other offence would mean an act or omission punishable under the Code.

IX. Forcible possession and dispossession

  • To prevent the use of force for:
  • Possession of any property.
  • Enforce any right.
  • Enforce any supposed right.
  • Right of private defense vis-à-vis Property. (S.105)
  • Right to use force to protect one’s own property.

X. Illegal Compulsion

  • No one can use criminal force to illegally, compel another to do or forbear from doing any act.
  • Use of force shall be accompanied by criminal force.
  • Mere use of force without any criminal act, would not attract this clause u/s. 141.

XI. Essential elements of Membership of Unlawful Assembly

  • The accused must be a part of the unlawful assembly i.e. physical presence.
  • Must share the common object of such unlawful assembly.
  • Mere presence does not make a person a member of the unlawful assembly.
  • Curious spectators in a village/ locality do not form part of the unlawful assembly.
  • Acquittal of the accused charged with S.302 r/w S.149 would not absolve the other accused persons charged u/s. 149 of the criminal liability.
  • A person to be a member of the unlawful assembly shall not cease to be one halfway through the incident.
  • Common knowledge of the offence likely to be committed.

XII. Three conditions to be fulfilled before a member can be held liable

  1. The offence must be committed in prosecution of the common object.
  2. The offence must be such as the members knew to be likely.
  3. The accused must have been a member of the unlawful assembly at the time the offence was committed.

Difference between Common Object and Common Intention

Sr. No.BasisCommon IntentionCommon Object
 Legal ProvisionSection 34, IPCSection 141, IPC
 MembersTwo or more Five or more
 ScopeAny intentionOnly one of the five objects mentioned u/s. 141.
 Type of OffenceCriminal Act done in furtherance of the common intention.Offence actually committed is required to be known or likely to be known by the members.
 Overt ActSome act or omission must be attributed to each person.Mere membership is sufficient.
 NatureRule of evidence, principle of vicarious liability.Substantive/Specific offence.

Case Laws

Mohan Singh v. State of Punjab

It is not necessary that five or more persons must be convicted before a charge u/s. 149 could be successfully brought home to any members of the unlawful assembly. It may be that less than five persons may be charged and convicted u/s. 302 r/w. 149, if the charge is that persons before the Court along with others named, constituted an unlawful assembly.

Subramaniam v. State of Kerala

The existence of an unlawful assembly is a necessary postulate for invoking section 149, IPC. Where the existence of such an unlawful assembly is not proved, the conviction with the aid of Section 149 cannot be recorded or sustained.

Mariadasan v. State of T.N.

In a sudden altercation and fight between two parties, the deceased who tried to intervene was fatally assaulted in the spur of the moment, in the heat of passion. The Court held that no unlawful assembly was found at any time with the common object of assaulting the deceased. As a result, each individual was responsible for their own acts.

Sudhir Samanta v. Sate of W.B.

While not every member needs to have committed an overt act, his membership is sin qua non for considering the question of his culpability for acts committed by the unlawful assembly.

SECTION 142: Being member of unlawful assembly

Who is said to be a member of unlawful assembly ?

  • Ingredients
  1. A person who intentionally joins despite of knowing that the assembly is unlawful or
  2. Continues to be a member after being aware of the fact that an assembly which was not unlawful at its inception has subsequently become unlawful;
  3. Continues means physical presence.

SECTION 143: Punishment

  • A person who is a member of the unlawful assembly will be liable for imprisonment which may extend to 6 months or with fine or both.

SECTION 144: Joining unlawful assembly with deadly weapons


  • A person armed with deadly weapon joins unlawful assembly; and
  • Is likely to cause death; and
  • Member of an unlawful assembly; and


  • Up to two years of imprisonment; or
  • Fine; or
  • Both

Armed with deadly weapons

  • Aggravated form of an unlawful assembly.
  • Harms the public peace tranquility.
  • Intention of using force is clearly evinced by carrying firearms.
  • Thus, calls for enhanced punishment.

SECTION 145: Joining or continuing in an unlawful assembly, knowing that it has been commanded to disperse.


  • A person joins or continues in an unlawful assembly; and
  • Knowing that it has been commanded to disperse.


To punish a person who disobeys any lawful order of a public servant. Order must be pertaining to dispersal of unlawful assembly.


  • Up to two years of imprisonment; or
  • Fine; or
  • Both.

SECTION 149: Constructive Criminal Liability of every Member of an Unlawful Assembly


  • Commission of an offence by any member of an unlawful assembly; and
  • Such offence must have been committed in prosecution of the common object of such assembly; or
  • The member knew that it is likely to be committed.

*The (i) is necessary whereas either of the last two i.e. (ii) or (iii) may be proved


  • To make every member of the unlawful assembly punishable for the offence committed by each one of them in prosecution of the common object or the offence which such members of the assembly knew or likely to be committed.
  • To impose vicarious/constructive criminal liability.
  • The liability of the both the parties i.e., the person who has committed the criminal act and the other members of the unlawful assembly is same.
  • It creates a substantive offence.


The scope of Section 149 is two-fold as it can be seen from the following two points:

  1. First part – deals with the cases in which offence is committed in prosecution of the common object.
  2. Second part  – deals with cases where the members of the unlawful assembly knew that the offence is likely to be committed.

Change of Object of the Unlawful Assembly

If the object of the Unlawful Assembly changes mid-way, and such member/s who cease to be a part of such assembly by virtue of such change in the object, cannot be held guilty under the constructive liability rule u/s. 149, if any existing member of the assembly commits a criminal act.

Case Law :- Ram Dular Rai v. State of Bihar

Held :- Mere presence of a person in the unlawful assembly will not render a person liable unless he was motivated by the common object and that object is one which is set out in Section 141 of IPC.

SECTION 150: Hiring or conniving(scheming) at hiring of a person to join unlawful assembly


  • To punish those who hire, employee, engage, connive or promote people to join an unlawful assembly.
  • To bring within the reach of law, such people who are instigators and originators of crime.
  • Those who are neither abettors nor participators but nevertheless assist in bringing an unlawful assembly into existence.


  • Such a person will be punishable as a member of the unlawful assembly.
  • Such a person is also punishable for any offence that may be committed by the person in furtherance of such hiring, employment, instigation, engagement.

SECTION 157: Harboring persons hired or to be hired for an unlawful assembly

  • Wider application than Section 150.
  • Future unlawful assembly also covered.
  • This deals with persons who harbors, receives or assembles persons, in a place in his control, occupation or charge despite of knowing that such persons are hired or engaged or employed for joining an unlawful assembly.
  • Punishment – imprisonment up to 6 months or with fine or with both.

SECTION 158: Being hired to take part in an unlawful assembly

  • If a person is engaged or hired for doing or help in doing any of the Acts specified in Section 141, in such a case, the person will be liable for imprisonment which may extend up to 6 months or with fine or both.
  • If such a person is hired or engaged with deadly weapons or with anything which is likely to cause death, in such a case, the person will be liable for imprisonment which may extend up to 2 years or with fine or both.

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