Section 153 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!

Legal Provisions of Section 153 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot:

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This section prescribes punishment for wantonly giving provocation to someone with intent to cause riot. It says that whoever malignantly, or wantonly, gives provocation to any person, by doing anything which is illegal, with the intention or knowledge that it is likely that such provocation will cause the offence of rioting to be committed in consequence of such provocation, be punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to one year, or with fine, or with both, and if the offence of rioting be not committed, with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending to six months, or with fine, or with both.

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It implies a kind of general malice; and unlawful act done intentionally without just cause or excuse; and extreme malevolence or enmity; violently hostile or harmful.



It means recklessly, thoughtlessly cruel, without regard for right or consequences; or insolvency, arrogantly or unjustly.


The expression ‘illegal’ has been defined under section 43 of the Code in the sense of everything which in an offence, of which is prohibited by law or which furnishes ground for a civil action.



The offence of ‘rioting’ has been defined under section 146 of the Code as an offence when force or violence is used by an unlawful assembly or by any member thereof, in prosecution of the common object of such assembly.

The section is applicable only when something illegal is done either malignantly or wantonly, and this act must generate provocation in some other person, with the intention or knowledge that the provocation will cause the offence of rioting to be committed. If the act is not illegal this section does not apply even if the act be done malignantly or wantonly.

Where certain persons in a religious procession violated certain orders of the police as a result of which a riot was almost going to take place, but ultimately averted with the bringing in of the armed police, it was held that these processionists had acted ‘wantonly.

Where a bride and bridegroom belonging to the depressed classes rode in planquins through a village in spite of the high caste Hindus protesting against the same, it was held that since the act of riding in planquins is not an illegal thing, this section could have no application whatever the consequences. Killing a cow in an open place exposed to public view may hurt the religious feelings of those who do not approve of the same, and is therefore an act wantonly done, but since the act is not illegal, this section does not apply.

Where the accused unfastened the string of the national flag as a result of which it came down, and he attempted to trample upon it, it was held that he had done an illegal act likely to give provocation to persons present at the flag-hoisting ceremony with the intention or knowledge that it would cause rioting and so he was guilty under section 153 of the Code.

But on the other hand, where the accused had installed an idol of a goddess outside his door-way without permission of the authorities and erected a screen around it, and a procession of the Muslims was passing by that place and he was asked to close his door for some time which he refused to do, it was held that he was not guilty under this section as his act could not be said to be illegal within the meaning of section 43 of the Code.

In Manzar Sayeed Khan v. State of Maharashtra, a book title ‘Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India’ authored by James W. Laine was published originally by the Oxford University Press U. S. A. The, Oxford University Press India published a reprint of the same.

There were allegations against the author, printer and publisher of the book that one passage of it had hurt the sentiments of the people of all sections of the society and that it would not be in the larger public interest to drop the charges.

However, the author had mentioned in his book that many people from his scholarly home in India which was scholarly institute established ninety years back helped him for collecting material. He had given the names of many persons who had helped him in one way or the other and enlightened him about the history of the historical hero Shivaji.

He also mentioned in the book about the international conference etc., which has given a lot of material for inclusion in his book. The institute has a great tradition of scholarly work and it was very improbable to imagine that any serious or intense scholar will attempt to malign the image of this glorious institute.

Moreover, the author thought his work to be worth dedication to his mother which was purely a scholarly pursuit and without any intention or motive to involve himself in trouble. The Supreme Court held that authorities shall not proceed against the author for offences under sections 153 and 153-A of the Code.

Moreover, it is the sole responsibility of the State to make positive efforts to resolve every possible conflict between any of the communities, castes or religions within the State and try every possible way to establish peace and harmony within the State under every and all circumstances.

The offence under this section is cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by any magistrate.


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