The government, to prevent public gatherings, has various weapons in hand and the law also gives the right to do so. With the help of police, the can-do so or various provisions also permit them the government if it is done in good faith and is for the betterment of the society.
One such provision is Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973
The provision says in urgent cases of the nuisance of the danger of apprehended danger the District Magistrate, a Sub-divisional Magistrate or any other Executive Magistrate specially empowered by the State Government in this behalf, can impose this section to prevent, or tends to prevent, obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public tranquillity, or a riot, of an affray.
The section in simple words means the section prohibits the gathering or coming together of five or more persons the reason for which may either be lawful or unlawful. This section gives the power in the hands of the magistrate to impose this section in the urgent situation that may either result in violence or is done in the good faith
Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code prohibits carrying of any arms and ammunitions in the places where it applicable and also prescribes the punishment if a person does so. If a person is found carrying arms and ammunitions where section 144 he shall be punishable for three years.
The application of this section is wider. This section also empowers the authorities to block the internet access of the people if they are getting involved in an unlawful assembly via the use of the internet or if they are posting such images, memes that go against the policies of the government.
The origin of Section 144
The origin of Section of 144 dates back to the year 1861 in the state of Baroda present-day Gujarat. This section was created and drafted by an officer E.F Deboo as it was imposed by the rulers of the British army to subdue the protests that the nationalists did.
From its origin till now Section 144 has been used government to suppress the lawful protests or the riots which oppose the policies imposed by the government. This tool of the government is also used positively in good faith to prevent the harm and to safeguard the interest of the public at large.
THE PERIOD OF LIMITATION
Section 144 remains into effect for more than two months but it is in the hands of the state government to extend the assembly. The maximum period up to which the section can be applicable or extend is six months from the first date of its application.
SOME OF THE RECENT APPLICATION OF SECTION 144
Presently in India, Section 144 is applicable in many states as the world is suffering from the great pandemic of The novel Corona Virus. Being hit by great pandemic India has imposed Section 144 in good faith and to further prevent the spread of the Corona Virus. The Punjab Government recently extend the application s of section 144 for 3 months. The Maharashtra government is also following Section as Maharashtra has the most number of Corona Cases in the country. Hence to curb and minimize the impact, the government has imposed section 144.
Jammu and Kashmir also saw the application of Section 144. On 8 February to mark the death anniversary of Maqbool Bhan and Afzal Guru the government imposed section 144 to prevent the protest and the chaos in the city.
To prevent the terror attack in the state of the Goa, the government on the 12 February 2020 imposed Section 144. North Goa District Magistrate through an official notification imposed Section 144 for 2 months from 12 February till 10 April.