Affray – Explanation of section 159 of the Indian Penal Code by HARSHITA GOEL @LEXCLIQ

Affray – Explanation of section 159 of the Indian Penal Code
The word “affray” means a skirmish or fighting between two or more, and there must be a stroke given or offered, or a weapon drawn. An affray is committed is a public offence to the terror of the people. According to Section 159 of the Indian Penal Code, Affray is defined as “When two or more persons by fighting in a public place, disturb the public peace, they are said to commit an affray.”

The punishment for committing affray is imprisonment for up to one month or fine up to one hundred rupees or both (Section 160). This offence necessarily postulates the commission of a definite assault or a breach of the peace. Mere quarrelling or abusing in a place not resulting in the exchange of blows is not enough to draw the attention of Section 160 IPC. A fight is a necessary element to constitute affray. This means both the parties have to be aggressive and participate in the struggle.

According to Blackstone, “The offence is the fighting of two or more persons in public place to the terror of His Majesty’s subjects for, if the fighting be in private, it is no affray but an assault.” The gist of the offence consists in the terror it causes to the public. The word ‘affray’ is derived from the French word ‘affraier’ which means ‘to terrify’ and so, in a legal sense it is taken for a public offence causing terror to the people. For the conviction to arise under this offence, it is sufficient that an alarm would have been caused to the public or members of the public. It is not necessary that any particular member of the public must give evidence to the effect that he was alarmed. The presence of public at the time of disturbance would be sufficient to show that the members of the public must have been alarmed by reason of the disturbance and there was sufficient breaking of the peace.

An affray consists of the following:

1 fighting by two or more persons
2 the fighting must take place in a public place
3 such fighting must also result in disturbance of the public peace

1 Fighting by two or more persons
The offence of Affray is nevertheless a fight, i.e., a bilateral act, in which two parties participate and it will not amount to an affray when the party who is assaulted submits to the assault without resistance. Fighting necessarily implies a competition of struggle for mastery between two or more persons against one another. When members of one party beat the members of other party and the latter does not retaliate or make an attempt to retaliate but remain passive it can’t be said that there was fighting between the members of one party and the members of the other and the offence of affray can’t be said to have been established[Jodhey v. State (AIR 1952 All. 788 at p. 794)].

“Fight” contemplated under Section 160 IPC, is certainly different from a mere quarrel. The Law Lexicon by P. Ramanatha Aiyar defines “fight” as follows:

“To strike or contend for victory, in the battle or in single combat to attempt to defeat, subdue, or destroy an enemy, either by blows or weapons.”

“Quarrel” means an exchange of angry utterances between two or more persons and not the mere use in an ordinary tone. Though it may need two for a fight or quarrel, the difference between them is obviously apparent.

Fighting in a public place
A place where public go, no matter whether they have a right to go or not, is a public place.

There is a difference between an act done in public and an act done in a public place. In England, some statutes make acts penal which are done in public, others make acts penal which are done in public place, so that in the criminal statute law in England the distinction is, it will be observed, between doing an act in public and doing an act in a public place. The same demarcation is depicted in the Acts of Indian Legislature. The offence here contemplated must be committed in a public place and in the presence of public without whom there can be no breach of the public peace.

Disturbance of the public peace
In order to constitute an affray, there must be not only fighting, but it may cause disturbance of public peace.

A charge of affray brings in both the sides as accused persons since both the fighting groups have committed the offence.
It is a bailable offence.
It is non-compoundable offence.
The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 has now made it a cognisable offence.
It may be tried by any magistrate and is triable summarily.

The offence differs from a riot in the following ways:-

An affray cannot be committed in a private place whereas a riot can be committed in a private place.
To constitute an affray there must be a presence of two or more persons while for a riot it has to be five or more.

An affray is distinguishable from assault as:-

An affray has to be committed in a public place while an assault may take place anywhere.
The offence is considered to be an offence against public peace whereas assault, against the person or an individual.


The offence of affray is thus a bilateral act in which two or more parties participate to fight against one another which is committed at a public place and this results in the disturbance of public peace. It involves an actual fight between the parties to establish this offence and mere quarrelling would not result in an affray. Section 159 of the IPC defines it and Section 160 IPC imposes punishment for the offence. It has also been distinguished from riot and assault due to its distinction of place where the act was committed, the number of parties and whether the public was affected or not.

harshita goel

Leave a Reply


Customized Diet Plan: Transforming Your Health and Beating Depression

In our fast-paced modern world, the importance of a healthy diet cannot be overstated. A well-balanced and customized diet plan is not only crucial for maintaining overall well-being, but it can also play a significant role in managing mental health conditions such as depression. Depression affects millions of people worldwide, and while seeking professional help […]

Read More

The Truth about Composting and Recycling

Composting and recycling both remain effective ways to dispose of different types of waste including custom mailer boxes. Composting can be achieved at any place from a large composting facility to your backyard as well. While, on the other hand, recycling is something that you can only achieve in a proper recycling setup/facility. The process […]

Read More
Archangel Raziel of Mysteries, Quantum Energy, Psychic Abilities, & Astrology

Archangel Raziel of Mysteries, Quantum Energy, Psychic Abilities, & Astrology

Who is an Archangel Raziel ? Archangel Raziel is a fascinating celestial being known as the Archangel of Mysteries, Quantum Energy, Psychic Abilities, and Astrology. He is believed to possess profound wisdom and knowledge, serving as a guide for those seeking enlightenment and understanding of the mystical realms. In simple sentences, let us delve into […]

Read More