Legal Provisions Regarding “Affray” in India – Section 159 of IPC

Scope:

Section 159 defines “Affray” and Sec. 160 prescribes punishment for committing affray.

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Sec. 159. Affray:

When two or more persons, by fighting in a public place disturb the public peace, they are said to “commit an affray”.

Important Points:

A. Ingredients of Sec. 159:

1. There must be a fighting between TWO or more persons.

2. The fighting must be in a public place.

3. As a result of the fighting, public peace must be disturbed.

4. Black Stone defines affray: “Affray is the fighting of two or more persons in some public place, to be error of His Majesty’s subjects for if the fighting be in private it is no affray but an assault.”

5. In affray, two parties must participate. If one party assaults another and the other does not resist, it is not an affray. Affray means “fighting”. Fighting means necessarily a contest or struggle for victory against one another. There must be little or severe violence or force. Mere abusing in a public place does not constitute the offence of affray. Using weapons is not necessary in affray.

B. Distinction between Affray and Assault:

The essential ingredient of affray is to disturb the public peace in a public place by fighting between two or more persons. The affray must have been held in a public place. If the fighting takes place between two or more persons in a private place, it is only “assault”, but cannot be “affray”.

C. Punishment for committing affray.

Sec. 160 imposes punishment for committing affray. It says that whoever commits an affray shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to one hundred rupees, or with both. Nature of offence under this Section is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by any Magistrate.