Section 504, IPC – Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace

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We all know that insulting someone can negatively impact a person’s mental health, but do you know that insulting someone to provoke that person to cause harm is an offence as well?
Chapter XXII, Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), deals with Criminal Intimidation, Insult, and Annoyance from Section 503- 510.

This article will focus on Section 504 of IPC, its essential ingredients, punishment for Section 504, is it bailable, and the trial procedure for a suit filed under Section 504 of IPC.

What is Section 504 of IPC?

As per Section 504 of IPC, if a person intentionally or knowingly insults another person, the person is provoked to breach the peace or any other offence. Therefore, the person provoking will be liable under Section 504 of IPC.

Essential ingredients of Section 504 IPC

To make a person liable under Section 504 of IPC, there must be the following essential ingredients, namely;

  • The insult must be done intentionally;
  • The intention should be such as to provoke or intimidate a person insulted;
  • The accused should be aware that the provocation is likely to influence the person to cause a breach of the peace or commit any offence.

One of the critical ingredients of the section is “insult.” Now, what is an insult?

“Insult” means those words that can humiliate a person or disrespect the person’s personality. The insult should be so grave that it causes or provokes the person insulted to do any act which causes disharmony or any other offence.
In re Karumuri Venkatratnam, the court held that mere use of abusive language cannot be considered an insult. The insult should provoke the person to cause a breach of public peace. For example, if the accused insults the chastity of the complainant’s sister or mother, this comes under Section 504 of IPC.

What is the punishment for Section 504?

Any person who commits an offence under Section 504 of IPC will be liable for imprisonment of either description (simple or rigorous) for a term of 2 years or more and/or will also be liable to pay a fine.

Is Section 504 cognizable?

Section 504 of IPC is a non-cognizable and bailable offence triable by any Magistrate.

Conclusion

Section 504 of IPC talks about intentionally insulting a person so that the person insulted is induced to breach public peace or commit any other offence. The accused person shall be liable for imprisonment for a term that may extend to 2 years or with a fine or both. The insult must be intentional to be considered an offence under this section. The mere use of abusive language cannot be a reason. There has to be mens rea, i.e., bad intention. The insult should tarnish a person’s dignity and force the person to commit an offence.

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