Harbouring an Offender, (Indian Penal Code, 1860) – Explained!
The various provisions in the Penal Code relate to harbouring on concealing a person knowing him to be an offender with the intention of screening him from legal punishment; harbouring or concealing an offender having escaped from custody, or whose apprehension has been ordered, and knowingly harbouring any persons who are about to commit or have committed robbery or dacoity. The above provisions, however, do not extend to the case in which the harbour is, given by the wife or husband of the person harboured. (Ss. 211, 216 and 216- A).
The above however, presupposes that some offence has actually been committed and that the harbourer gives refuge to a person knowing that thereby he helps to evade his apprehension or screens him from legal punishment. It does not apply to the harbouring of persons not being criminals who abscond to avoid or delay a judicial investigation.
In the given problem A is guilty of harbouring an offender under Section 212 and as B is liable to imprisonment for life, A is liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding three years and also liable to fine.
Select any four of the following cases and discuss as to what offence, if any, has been committed by A:
(a) B, a proclaimed offender, is found in the house of A.
(b) B commits suicide and A, in order to avoid information of the incident reaching the police, conceals the dead body.
(c) B gives A, a fruit-seller, a five rupee note instead of a rupee. A perceives the mistake but keeps the money.
(d) A jailor starves to death the prisoner in his charge.
(e) A, a police constable, detained some persons as suspects for several days. They were not fettered, but they were made to stay in a circumscribed limit. Their meals were brought to them or the police sent the village servants with them in their houses for their meals and they were brought back again.
(a) Mere harbouring a proclaimed offender is no offence unless the harbourer knew that some offence has actually been committed, or he harboured him with the intention of screening him from legal punishment. On the given facts, no offence has been committed by A.
(b) Committing suicide is no offence; though attempt to commit suicide is one. In an accomplished suicide the offender is dead and beyond the reach of the arms of law. Since committing suicide is no offence, the dead body of B is not an evidence of an offence. Concealment of the dead body of B is therefore not causing disappearance of evidence of the offence and consequently is not punishable as such under Section 201, 1.P.C. A has, therefore, not committed any offence on the facts of the case.
(c) A is guilty of criminal misappropriation of Rs. 4. By keeping Rs. 4 which he should have returned to B, he dishonestly misappropriated or converted to his own use movable property within the meaning of S. 403, I.P.C.
(d) A jailor has 110 legal justification or excuse for starving i prisoner to death. He would, therefore, be guilty of murder, as starving a person is an act likely, in the ordinary course of nature, to cause death, and the jailor intentionally starved the prisoners.
(e) A is guilty of the offence of confinement by a person having authority who knows that he is acting contrary to law under Section 200, I.P.C. The detention by the police constable for several days without warrant when Section 57, Cr. P.C. clearly prohibits him not to detain for more than 24 hours without warrant was clearly an act contrary to law which does not provide confinement of suspects for several days together without warrant or without the order of a competent magistrate.