Disorderly behavior means an act, action, etc. causing disorder or making disturbance or breaking any rules, etc. Disorderly behavior is an act which is the observable response of a person making the disturbance. It is not any and every act which can be termed as disorderly behavior.
Disorderly conduct is often considered as a minor crime under normal circumstances which sometimes leads to a formal apology, citation, or a petty fine but in some cases, it can become a major legal issue. These instances are
(i) when the disorderly conduct involved habitual conduct involving alcohol or public drunkenness,
(ii) the conduct has led to a major public or private property damage
(iii) Immoral behaviour has caused a major injury or serious harm to another person.
Although under usual or normal circumstances there is the provision of smaller fines disorderly conduct can also lead to bigger fines and very serious criminal charges if the offender is being found guilty of such behaviour repeatedly. The offender can also be adjudged for jail time for an extended period. Disorderly conduct is often present as a part of cases involving multiple charges.
For example, if a person is trying to flee from the scene of a crime he has done in haste he may perform such acts which can be charged as disorderly conduct or regarding their conduct before the crime. Disorderly conduct is like any other case and often can lead to serious predicaments. Depending on the situation a person may hire a lawyer if he wishes to do so. The lawyer can consult the person with legal advice on the case. Various defences can be put up against charges of disorderly conduct. These defences mainly include- unintentional intoxication, self-defence, and various other situations where such acts were necessary to prevent any further emergency.
Disorderly conduct is an immoral behavior or an act wherein, the offender/offenders cause harm to a single person or a group of individuals or public or private property. There have been various instances wherein a person has been charged with disorderly conduct and has been ordered to pay the required fine or to go to jail for some time as and such considered necessary by the judge.
Disorderly conduct is an action a particular set of behavior which causes disturbance to peace. In George vs State,it was held that mere uttering of words cannot be constituted as disorderly behavior. The word “behavior” connotes something way beyond the way a person talks. A behavior that is contrary to law tends to provide disturbance to public harmony or cause damage to the public sense of morality can be called as disorderly behavior.
In Maruti vs The state of Maharashtra(1976) the judges pointed that the words “behaves in a disorderly manner” have three different parts (i) behave (ii) disorderly and (iii) manner. To understand them completely we need to seek out their separate meanings.
The word “behave” in a concise oxford dictionary is defined as “conduct oneself, act…. Conduct oneself with propriety…. Show good manners”. The word “disorderly” is defined as
1. “Untidy, confused;
2. Constituting public nuisance”.
The word “manner” has been termed as “the way a thing is done or happens,” with various other meanings.
The court of law further informs that if the disputes between two parties are purely personal and are not required to be taken care of, for maintenance of decorum in a crowded atmosphere then they should be directed to fight out their litigation in a civil court which is appropriate for them.
Section 145 of the criminal procedure act falls in chapter 10 of the code and deals with ‘maintenance of public order and tranquillity’. If the dispute is required to be resolved to maintain public decorum and harmony the criminal court may exercise powers given to it under section 145 of the criminal procedure act. Section 145 requires that the magistrate must be satisfied before the starting of the proceedings that a dispute between two parties is likely to cause a “breach of the peace”. Once he is satisfied with these two conditions the section requires the magistrate to pass an order under section 145(1) in writing mentioning the grounds of his satisfaction.
The query which then arises – what is the meaning of expression ‘breach of the peace’. The expression ‘breach of the peace’, refers to a disturbance or harm to public decorum and tranquility. ‘Breach of the peace’ is a common term and constitutes all offenses tending to a disturbance in the public harmony.
There are various scenarios as well where we can see instances of disorderly conduct in a public place is during protests or demonstrations by various political parties or other organizations. Every time these demonstrations or protests or rallies pass through the road the whole traffic gets blocked and a lot of nuisance is caused to the people in general. The public face a lot of hardship because of this. Sometimes members of these protests stage ‘dharna’ in front of the state and central government offices which creates an obstruction in the daily chores and affects the work of these organizations.
The blockage of vehicular traffic is a serious nuisance to those who want urgent medical attention or to attend public examination or interviews or to reach Airport to catch their flight find it extremely difficult. Although the political parties and religious congregations have a right to assembly peacefully and pass through these roads they have no right to create unreasonable obstruction which can lead to inconvenience to others in any manner. These acts can also be adjudged as disorderly conduct if such acts are causing a nuisance to the public.
Petitioners allege that under section 149 of the Criminal Procedure Code and section 19 of the Police Actthe police must prevent the commission of any public nuisance.
Several actions can be classified as disorderly conduct while working in an organization such as coming to office under the influence of alcohol, public intoxication, causing harm to property of the firm in any way, immoral behavior with the colleagues and the seniors, indulging in anti-social activities with the people working in the company. Getting involved in immoral conduct which can lead to financial damage. These acts can have serious consequences as the offender might be punished by the company for committing such crimes. He/she can also be expelled from work under such circumstances by a person who is vested with such powers.
There are various provisions in the Indian constitution for the payment of any allowances or gratuity to a person if he/she has been removed from his/her office under the above-mentioned circumstances.
In the Union bank of India vs C.G. Ajay Babu (2018) the court did not interfere with thedismissal; however, it was held that the respondent was entitled to gratuity as there was no economical harm caused to the Bank. It was also held that the forfeiture of gratuity is permissible only in case the immoral conduct leading to the suspension or the dismissal has caused financial loss to the bank and only to that extent.
In Sub-section (1) section (4) of payment gratuity act, it is mentioned that:-
- The gratuity of an employee, whose services have been terminated for any act, willful omission or negligence causing any damage or loss to, or destruction of, property belonging to the employer shall be forfeited to the extent of the damage or loss so caused;
- The gratuity payable to an employee may be fully or partially forfeited
- If the services of such employee have been terminated for his riotous or disorderly conduct or any other act of violence on his part, or
- If the services of such employees have been terminated for any act which constitutes an offence involving moral turpitude, provided that such offence is committed by him in the course of his employment.
Disorderly conduct is an offence that can be used to call out many offences that come under these categories of immoral behaviour, misconduct by an individual, or a group of individuals. Very often we see scenarios of disorderly conduct in many cases involving multiple charges. Various allegations of such offences are for the charges of public intoxication, breach of code of conduct, immoral behaviour in a crowded area, misconduct which leads to disputes among various parties. The offenders of such acts are usually given relief by smaller punishments or fines but if an offender is habitual or if there are multiple charges on the offender then he can be charged with serious offences such as heavier punishments or even in some serious cases with jail time of a period as and such deemed appropriate by the judge.
Disorderly conduct is although a petty crime but if it involves public nuisance or harm to an individual or a group of individuals or public or private property must be dealt with all seriousness and punishment against it should be adjudicated in terms of fine or jail period as deemed appropriate by the judge.
(1972 KLT 267)