What is an Affray? Distinguish between (a) Rioting and Affray, (b) Affray and Assault.
The ingredients of the section are first a fight between two or more persons; secondly, such fight must be in a public place and, lastly, the fight must be in a public place and, lastly, the fight must disturb the public peace. Mere abusing or quarrelling without exchanging blows will not make this section applicable. It contemplates a definite breach of peace or assault.
(a) Riot and Affray:
Riot is the use of force or violence used by an unlawful assembly (which is an assembly of five or more persons) or by any member thereof in prosecution of the common objects of that assembly.
An affray, on the other hand, is committed by two or more persons by fighting in a public place when they disturb the public peace. In the case of affray there may thus not be the common object to disturb public peace.
To sum up, a riot differs from an affray inasmuch as:
(1) A riot can be committed only by five or more persons, while an affray can be committed by two or more persons.
(2) A riot can be committed even in a private place but an affray cannot be committed in a private place.
(3) In a riot every member of the unlawful assembly is punishable, although some of them may not have personally used force or violence; this is not so in the case of an affray because only those actually engaged are liable.
(4) The punishment awarded in the case of riot is imprisonment for two years, or both, but in the case of an affray it is one month or fine up to Rs. 100 or both.
(b) Affray and Assault:
(1) An affray must be committed in a public place, but an assault may be committed either in a public or private place.
(2) An affray is committed by two or more persons, while an assault is made by the making of any gesture or preparation by a person to cause another person present to apprehend that the person making it is about to use criminal force to him.
(3) An affray is an offence against public tranquility, while an assault is an offence against the person of an individual.
(4) The punishment provided for affray is imprisonment for one month or with fine up to Rs. 100 or both, while it is three months or with fine up to Rs. 500, or with both in the case of an assault.
“An affray is nothing more than an assault in a public place and in a conspicuous manner, and is so called because it affrighted and makes them afraid. (Ratan Lai and Dhirajlal Thakore: Law of Crimes.) “