UNLAWFUL  ASSEMBLY


An unruly assembly of five or more persons that may cause damage to public property, public order or that may cause injury to individuals is called unlawful assembly. Section 129 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 deals with unlawful assembly.  Thus, unlawful assembly is the assembly of five or more persons having the common object of disturbing public peace and order.


 The following are the ingredients to make an assembly unlawful in nature-

  1. Assembly of five or more people– At-least five or more persons must assemble at a place thereby tending to disturb public peace and harmony.
  • Assembly for common object– An assembly becomes unlawful assembly only when its members have a common unlawful object to fulfil. Thus, assembly of five or more persons must have one common unlawful purpose.
  • Assembly’s common object must be illegal-An assembly that  uses force to overpower the Government, resists the execution of any judgement of the Court or implementation of legal process. The people forming the assembly have the common object of committing an offence under Indian Penal Code, local or special laws, rules and regulations.
  • Use of force by the assembly– An assembly is called unlawful when it uses criminal force against any person with the intention to deprive him of his legal right over his property or use of water.

Thus, an assembly of five or more persons with the intention to do some illegal act by using criminal force over others thereby disturbing public peace and disorder is called unlawful assembly.


Section 129 of Cr PC authorizes police officers or Executive Magistrates to command an unlawful assembly of five or more persons formed to disturb public peace to disperse. Once such a command is made by the said officers the members of the assembly become duty bound to disperse. However, if the members of the unlawful assembly refuse to obey the command to disperse then the police officer or the Executive Magistrate have the right to use force to make their command obeyed. Any male person except the member of Armed Forces may assist the said officer or the magistrate to disperse the assembly. Such a male person is authorized to arrest the members of the unlawful assembly in order to make them disperse or be punished as per law.

Section 130 of Cr. PC:

If the unlawful assembly is not getting dispersed and becomes a threat to public security then the Executive Magistrate of the highest rank may call upon the armed forces to disperse the unlawful assembly. The Executive Magistrate may order the commander of the armed forces t o disperse the assembly with the help of his armed force. Such Magistrate may further order to arrest, confine and punish the members of the said unlawful assembly.

 The officers of the armed forces called to disperse the unlawful assembly must use less force and do as little injury to persons and property required to disperse the assembly and detain the members of the unlawful assembly.

 Section 131 of Cr. PC:

      If the public security is under a major threat and no communication is possible with the Executive Magistrate then any Commissioned or Gazetted Officer of the armed forces has the power to disperse, arrest, confine and punish the unlawful assembly members with the help of the forces under their command.  If later on the gazetted officer is able to communicate with the Executive Magistrate then he is bound to obey the instructions given by the Magistrate regarding whether to continue or not with such action.

Section 132 of Cr. PC:

  No prosecution shall be instituted in any Criminal Court against any member of the armed forces or against the Magistrate, Executive Magistrate or any police officer except with the sanction of the Central or State Government for any action done under section 129, 130 or 131 of Cr. PC.  All such persons shall not be deemed to have committed any crime.

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