This article is written by Vaishali.N, a student from School of Excellence in Law, Chennai. The author attempts to elaborate on the punishment provided under Section 504 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The article briefly discusses the contents of the Section, its essentials, nature of crime and related procedures under the Section. Thereafter, it elucidates on the punishment while shedding light on important case laws as well as the recent cases concerning the same.

It has been published by Rachit Garg.


Insult can generally be defined as words or actions that are abusive or demeaning to a person which may or may not be a deliberate effort to offend them or wound their feelings. Sometimes insults can scar a person at an emotional or mental level to such an extent that it might provoke him/her to disturb others’ peace in order to avenge themselves. The Indian Penal Code,1860, has provisions to punish not only those inflicting physical harm but also those that cause mental harm to others. Section 504 is one such provision under Part XXII deals with the offence of “intentional insult with intent to provoke the breach of peace” with provisions for punishment, which shall be discussed in later part of the article. However, the mere use of abusive language does not amount to an offence under this Section. There are certain conditions that need to be fulfilled for it to constitute an offence and hold the offender liable. This article briefly discusses the content of Section 504 of IPC, with the focus being on the punishment for this offence. 

Download Now

Essentials of crime under Section 504 

Section 504 of IPC provides punishment for insulting someone intentionally to provoke them, with the knowledge that the provocation caused by their insult can induce the person to commit an offence or act in a way that can breach the peace of the public. 

However, a mere insult, profanity, or use of vulgar language alone would not become an offence. In the case of Pukhraj v. The State of Rajasthan (1953) the accused (a customer) allegedly threw filthy remarks at the complainant (a shopkeeper). The accused was dissatisfied with the product he bought, and the complainant’s refusal to pay back the money agitated him, due to which he started abusing him. The Rajasthan High Court observed that what abuses were actually spoken were unknown, and considering the circumstances of the case, it did not seem like the accused had insulted the complainant with the intention to provoke him to commit any offence. Thus, the Court remarked that merely exhibiting bad manners will not amount to an offence under Section 504 and that if one is insulted through words, the words should actually amount to something more than just being a ‘vulgar abuse’.

So, it can be seen that the action of insulting someone would become an offence under this Section only if the insult was severe enough to provoke the person to do something wrong or commit a serious offence for which he can be held liable. 

Hence, we can say that there are three essential ingredients that should be considered when charging a person under this Section. 

  1. The accused had the intention to insult the person, 
  2. The intention was to cause provocation, and 
  3. The accused knew that the provocation will cause the person to breach public peace or commit an offence.

The accused insults the person intentionally

Not all insults can be considered as intentional insults. A person lacking a good mannerism might ever so casually use cuss words or speak vulgarly to people. Even though some people might take offence and find it disrespectful, it still would not count as an insult under this Section as the person actually does not intend to insult anyone. 

If there are two friends engaged in friendly banter and they say nasty things to each other, under such a circumstance one can easily understand that its lighthearted and insults were unintended. 

Let’s take an illustration for example- 

‘X’ is a student who has a rivalry with ‘Y.’ During a serious argument ‘X’ and ‘Y’ are at discord and ‘X’ verbally abuses ‘Y’ and insults him with an intention to start a fight. Under this case, ‘X’ is said to have committed an offence under Section 504 of IPC. 

The accused intended to provoke the person

The accused should have intended or known that the insult will cause provocation to the person to do something wrong. 

Illustration – ‘X’ is a political leader leading a public rally. In order to incite fights between two communities, he publicly calls out ‘Z’, the person representing the rival community, and hurls abuses at him and provokes him. 

Therefore, if ‘A’ insults ‘B’ to such an extent that ‘B’ is pushed to a state of agony which under normal circumstances would have led ‘B’ to cause breach of peace, then ‘A’ will be held liable under this Section for causing such a provocation to ‘B’. 

The accused had the knowledge that the person may commit an offence or breach public peace 

This is the most important element that acts as a test to determine whether an act of insulting someone would come under the purview of this Section.

The insult should cause someone to commit an offence or breach the peace of the public. If there are no fallouts that are caused by insulting someone, then their actions cannot be charged under this Section. Referring to the Kuppusami Aiyar case of 1915, the Bombay High Court in the case of Vaz v. Dias (1929) observed that mere abuse unaccompanied by a breach of peace or knowledge that such a breach of peace is likely will not come under Section 504 of the IPC. 

Nature of crime under Section 504 

The offence under Section 504 is non-cognizant, bailable, and compoundable in nature, since it is relatively not a very serious offence. It is triable by any magistrate.


Most of the minor offences, including insult, are non-cognizable offences. That is, the police or any other investigating authorities cannot arrest the accused without an arrest warrant. Non-cognizable offences are less severe in nature. Hence, non-cognizable offences are usually punishable with a term of less than 3 years. Likewise, the imprisonment term for an offence committed under Section 504 extends up to 2 years.


The possibility of granting a bail depends upon the intensity of the crime committed. Bail can be easily sought in cases that are less intense in nature, and it can be granted to the accused at the discretion of the court. Thus, under Section 436 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrCP),1973, the accused is entitled to seek bail for this kind of offence.


Offences that are compoundable are those for which a settlement can be agreed upon by both parties, whereby the complainant (the person who has suffered some damage) could agree to drop the charges against the accused in exchange for some consideration. 

What is the procedure for trial under Section 504

Since the offence under Section 504 is non-cognizable in nature, the police- officer cannot directly initiate an investigation or effect an arrest against the accused. As per Section 155(2) of the CrPC, the police cannot investigate a non-cognizable offence without receiving any directions or orders from the concerned court or magistrate. The police are not bound to record a first information report of a non-cognizable offence. Hence, the process of prosecution should be initiated by the victim by registering the crime with the magistrate. Thereafter, the magistrate can issue an order to the police to start the investigation. A report on the investigation should be submitted to the magistrate under Section 158 of CrPC. If the accused gets convicted in the trial, the magistrate would issue an arrest warrant, and then the police could make their final arrest.

What is the procedure for appeal under Section 504 

In case of acquittal in a bailable and non-cognizable offence passed by the magistrate, then the complainant can file an appeal against the judgement passed by the magistrate to the High Court by the provisions under Section 378 of CrPC.

How to get bail if charged under Section 504

An accused has the right to get a bail if he commits a bailable offence like in Section 504. Bail can be sought by filing a bail application with the police/investigating officer or with the magistrate. Since bail in these cases is a matter of right if the accused, the court, or the police do not reserve the discretion to decide whether or not the bail can be granted, it is the duty of the police or the court to grant the bail if the accused files for it. However, the authorities can pose certain terms and conditions in the bail-bond and if the accused breaches the terms, then they can remand him or her back to custody for committing the breach.

Punishment under Section 504 

The objective of punishing an offender is to hold him accountable for his actions. Punishments serve as a deterrent to those who are likely to commit such an offence, and punishing an offender would make them more self- aware of how they conduct themselves in society. Punishments are also retributive, as they give the citizens and the sufferer a sense of justice. The provisions for punishment stipulated under Section 504 are deterrent and mainly punitive, as the primary aim here is to punish the offender and prevent others from committing similar offences in the future.

Under the provisions of the Section, if a person insults another person intentionally, knowing that this will make the person cause disturbance to public or commit an offence, he will be held guilty under Section 504, and will be punished accordingly with- 

  • An imprisonment of up to 2 years;
  • Fine, or; 
  • Combination of both.

Imprisonment can either be simple or rigorous, the duration of which depends upon the crime that’s committed. The penalty amount is also decided at the discretion of the court. Thus, the severity of the punishment depends on the intensity of the offence committed, which the court decides by carefully considering the facts and circumstances of the case. 

Important case laws

In the case of Kunti Kumari v. State of Jharkhand (2016), the complainant, who was the President of the village education committee, had organised a budget meeting in which the appellant was present. The complainant was handing out meal packets to the members for lunch. When she was handing the meal packet to the appellant, the appellant snatched the packet out of her hand and started abusing her with respect to her community, uttering disrespectful statements against his case, and saying that even a dog would not eat the food she serves. The appellant had abused her in front of all the teachers and trainees, which had caused her mental harassment. Thus, the High Court of Jharkhand charged the appellant with four months of simple imprisonment under Section 504 of the IPC.

In Fiona Shrikhandhe v. State of Maharashtra (2013), the accused had moved in with her husband to a flat in Mumbai that belonged to the husband and her brother-in-law. There were internal family tussles regarding claims over the property, and the accused was indulging in several unlawful activities in order to force her brother-in-law and his wife out of the flat. The accused tried to prevent the entry of the family members into the puja room and would shout and yell at them. She had tried to move the “devara” (an arrangement where the idols of the deities are placed) out of the flat, and in that attempt, she damaged and dislodged the picture frames and the idols. These activities had hurt the religious sentiments of the complainant and caused her anguish. The High Court of Bombay laid down the essential elements of Section 504 in this case as follows- 

  1. Intentional insult.
  2. The insult must be such as to give provocation to the person insulted.
  3. The accused must have the intention or knowledge that the provocation will cause another to break public peace or commit any other offence.

 It held that one of the essential elements is the act of intentional insult, which leads to a breach of public peace, and that merely abusing the complainant is not sufficient to convict the plaintiff under Section 504 of the IPC. 

In the case of Kishori Mohan v. Dwarika Nath Singh (1974), Kishori Mohan and Dwarika Nath were petitioners in another case who were convicted under Section 504 by the trial magistrate and thus sought a criminal revision to the appellate court against the previous judgement. The complainant, Kanhaiya Lal, was the head assistant-cum accountant of a Gharka Block, and the petitioners, Kishori Lal and Dwarika Nath, were, at the time of the incident, the junior statistical supervisor and panchayat sewak of the block, respectively. During a non-gazetted employees’ strike, the complainant came out for some work. At this time, he was suddenly surrounded by the staff, and Dwarika Nath humiliated him in front of them by making him wear a garland of shoes, and Kishori Nath took a picture of him. The magistrate had convicted both petitioners under Section 504 and charged them both with six months of rigorous imprisonment. The appellate court, however, after the revision of the judgement, set aside Kishori Lal’s charges. The High Court of Patna referred to the case of Gauri Shankar v. Bachha Singh (1938) and held that there was no evidence of publication or brandishing of the photographs. Thus, simply taking photos can neither be held as an undignified conduct nor does it lead to provocation to break public peace. 

Therefore, from the cases discussed above, it can be seen that the offence of insult is usually intertwined with different aspects of non-physical offences like hurting one’s religious sentiments, public humiliation, or offending someone with regards to their caste or community, etc. It can also be observed that the court gives immense importance to the facts and circumstances of the case to determine the intention of the accused, while being cautious that no innocent person is held guilty and that the accused is given the appropriate punishment proportional to the gravity of the offence committed. 

Recent case laws relating to Section 504

State of U.P v. Mukhtar Ansari (2022)

Facts of  the case

The complainant in this case was a jailor, and the defendant, Mukhtar Ansari, a former M.L.A., was a prisoner in the same jail in 2003. On the day of the incident, some people had come to meet the defendant, but the complainant was not allowing his visitors without permission and ordered frisking them as a part of general safety procedures. This angered the defendant, and thus, he started verbally abusing him and extending death threats at the complainant while pointing a gun at him. 

Judgement of the Court 

The High Court of Allahabad had held the defendant liable under Sections 353 (an offence of assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from performing his duties); 506 (criminal intimidation); and 504 (intentional insult) under the IPC. 

With regards to the offence committed under Section 504, the Court observed that the defendant had intentionally insulted the complainant, knowing that it would undermine his authority as a jailor and test his integrity as a public servant, which would likely lead to a breach of peace inside the jail and outside. Thus, the Court found him guilty under Section 504 and charged him with 2 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 rupees.

G. Sivaraja Boopathi v. State (2022) 

Facts of the case

In this case, the accused, Sivaraja Boopathi, shared a disrespectful post on Facebook concerning the late CDS General Bipin Rawat, calling him a “dictator” and “mercenary of the fascists.” A complaint was registered against him at the cyber crime police station in Nagercoil, invoking Sections 153, 505 (2), and 504 of the IPC. 

The accused petitioner thus approached the High Court of Madras to quash the FIR.

Judgement of the Court

The High Court made an important remark relating to an offence under Section 504. The Court noted that the accused must have intentionally communicated the abuse/insult ‘directly’ to the victim. Though the remarks were uncivil in nature, they do not constitute an IPC offence. Further, the posts were meant only for a specific group of people, i.e., to his “Facebook friends,” even though anyone can see them. Section 504 cases involve only one-to-one interactions. Thus, on this reasoning, the petitioner was not held guilty.   


Section 504 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, is one of the most essential sections that is necessary to maintain peace and order in society. It provides for stringent punishment for those engaged in intentionally insulting someone with an ulterior motive to provoke them to disrupt public peace. The offence of insult spreads into a vast arena of criminal offences and is, in most cases, meshed with other forms of physical and non-physical offences under the IPC. The courts, with the help of various precedent cases, have been very careful in sanctioning rational punishments to the offenders in such a way that it provides a sense of justice to the victims while serving as a deterrent to those likely to commit such an offence.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) 

How is insult under Section 504 different from defamation under Section 499 ? 

Insulting someone also causes damage to one’s reputation and dignity. But the difference lies in the “publication” of the defamatory or insulting statement. While in the offence of defamation, publishing insulting or abusive comments against a person alone is not enough to complete the offence, it is so in the case of insult. Moreover, the presence of a third party is necessary for defamation but not for insult. Insult is intended to cover cases where the interaction is one-on-one in nature.

Can a police officer make an arrest under Section 504?

An offence under Section 504 is a non-cognizable offence, so the police- officer has no authority to arrest a person without an arrest warrant. 

Why do you need a lawyer for a case under Section 504?

It is necessary to appoint a lawyer for defence if a person is accused of any crime, regardless of whether the crime is serious or not. Even if a crime is non-serious in nature, the criminal proceedings will still be overwhelming, and only a lawyer can help you navigate through the proceedings and, most importantly, fight for your acquittal or at least try to reduce the punishment if possible. A lawyer can help you understand the nature of the crime, the rights available to you before and after arrest, and what can be expected after a trial in case you get convicted.


Students of Lawsikho courses regularly produce writing assignments and work on practical exercises as a part of their coursework and develop themselves in real-life practical skills.

LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals, and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join:


Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more amazing legal content.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here