A riot is a tumultuous disturbance of the peace by five or more persons, assembled and acting with a common object; either in executing a lawful or private enterprise in a violent and turbulent manner to the terror of the people, or in executing an unlawful enterprise in a violent and turbulent manner.
The modern definition of riot is in harmony with and follows the common law definition, and the legal meaning of the word corresponds with the meaning given to it.
Sec. 146. Rioting:
Whenever force or violence is used by an unlawful assembly, or by any member thereof, in prosecution of the common object of such assembly, every member of such assembly is guilty of the offence of “rioting”.
A. Ingredients of Sec. 146:
1. There must have been an unlawful assembly, which could come within the purview of Sec. 141.
2. There must be a common object.
3. Force or violence was used by such unlawful assembly or by any member of such unlawful assembly.
B. Usually in villages riotings take place between the two groups or two factions. The riotings between the factions in Rayalaseema, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, etc., are well known throughout India. Land disputes, inter-caste marriages, etc., enhance the grudges between the groups of the people. One group wants to demolish another group. A large number of the rioters participate in it.
C. Offend it becomes difficult to the prosecution and also to the Courts to identify the individual members who participated in rioting. The witnesses do not come forward due to fear.
Another important point to be noted is that it becomes difficult to name the specific act attributed to each of the accused. The Courts see that riotings are strictly proved by the prosecution before convicting the particular accused.
Where there were hundred or a thousand rioters and a large member of accused before the Sessions Judge, the prosecution should prove the act committed by every participant beyond reasonable doubt. Under such circumstances it becomes misfortune to the prosecution, and it cannot prove the offence. Thus it paves the way to release the culprits.
D. Sometimes the prosecution includes spectators, way farers, bystanders, etc., who accumulate to see the scene of the rioting by curiosity. Mere presence at the scene of rioting does not make a person an offender under the offence of rioting. It is the basic principle of the offence of unlawful assembly and rioting is that every member of such unlawful assembly or rioting should have common object or should have taken some active participation in such offence.
E. It is not safe to rely on a single witness to prove the rioting. The Supreme Court formulated the principle of witnesses in such circumstances.
Section 146 is the Definition Section only. It does not prescribe punishment. According to Sec. 147, every member of rioting shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine or with both. Nature of offence is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by any Magistrate.
G. Rioting, armed with deadly weapon:
Section 148 lays down that whoever is guilty of rioting, being armed with a deadly weapon or with anything which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. Nature of offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, .non-compoundable, and triable by Magistrate of the first class.
H. According to Section 152 (Assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot, etc.), whoever assaults or threatens to assault or obstructs or attempts to obstruct, any public servant in the discharge of his duty as such public servant, in endeavouring to disperse an unlawful assembly, or to suppress a riot or affray, or uses, or threatens, or attempts to use criminal force to such public servant, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both Nature of offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by Magistrate of the first class.
I. According to Section 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), whoever malignantly, or wantonly, by doing anything which is illegal, gives provocation to any person, intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause the offence of rioting to be committed, shall,—
If rioting be committed if the offence of rioting be committed in consequence of such provocation, be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine or with both;
If rioting not committed and if the offence of rioting be not committed, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.
Nature of offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by any Magistrate.
J. According to Section 154 (Owner or occupier of land on which an unlawful assembly is held), whenever any unlawful assembly or riot takes place, the owner or occupier of the land upon which such unlawful assembly is held, or such riot is committed, and any person having or claiming an interest in such land, shall be punishable with fine not exceeding one thousand rupees, if he or his agent or manager, knowing that such offence is being or has been committed or having, reason to believe it is likely to be committed, do not give the earliest notice thereof in his or their power to the principal officer at the nearest police station, and do not, in the case of his or their having reason to believe that it was about to be committed, use all lawful means in his or their power to prevent it, and, in the event to its taking place, do not use all lawful means in his or their power to disperse or suppress the riot or unlawful assembly. Nature of offence under this Section is non-cognizable, bailable, non- compoundable, and triable by any Magistrate.