The Use and Misuse of Section 144 CrPC

173 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2023 Last revised: 5 Apr 2023

Date Written: March 15, 2023


Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 has been a key component of public order policing in independent India and a favoured part of the toolkit for local law enforcement. The wide discretionary powers under Section 144 to interdict civil liberties of persons across districts without prior notice or any right to be heard, all in the interests of public order, make it a truly astounding power to wield. Despite its perennial relevance, there have been few critical studies of note on Section 144. A general analysis of its scope or comments on cases where specific orders are challenged. This Report contributes to filling this gap and offers a ground-level analysis of how Section 144 is being used in Delhi, over a duration of one year. To the best of our knowledge, a systematic empirical analysis of Section 144 orders has not been undertaken before. We hope that this report spurs further conversation and possible reform around Section 144. We contend that its implementation leaves much to be desired. Far from an exceptional measure resorted to for addressing emergencies, orders under Section 144 have become a part of the regular legal framework such that they are periodically re-issued at the expiry of two months. The clause has been transformed into a tool for micro-level governance in the hands of today’s district administrators — the police — to unimaginable lengths.

Keywords: Criminal Procedure, Rule of Law, Emergency, Civil Liberties, India, Section 144

Suggested Citation

Bhandari, Vrinda and Sekhri, Abhinav and Maheshwari, Natasha and Aggarwal, Madhav, The Use and Misuse of Section 144 CrPC (March 15, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Vrinda Bhandari

Independent ( email )

Abhinav Sekhri (Contact Author)

Delhi High Court ( email )

India Gate
Delhi, 110003

Natasha Maheshwari


Madhav Aggarwal


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