Section 144 is a Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) law that bans five or more individuals from publicly congregating in a region where the law has been imposed. Being in possession of weapons or indulging in any form of hooliganism is also prohibited. People who violate the law could be booked on charges of rioting (a bailable offence), resulting in their imprisonment for a maximum of three years and/or fine. Also, obstructing the police from performing their duties with adherence to this law is punishable.
Section 144 usually gets imposed by the district collector or district magistrate on a city or state after riots or when a serious law and order issue is impending or suspected to take place. The law helps quell any untoward or violent incident, especially when the law-keeping forces are not sure of what to expect from the miscreants. The law existed even before India’s independence when the British wanted to prevent Indians from staging protests against the colonial government.