Punishment for wearing garb or carrying token used by a public servant with fraudulent intent in India

January 23, 2019 0 Comment

Ingredients of offence:

The essential ingredients of the offence under Section 171 are as follows:

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(1) The accused wore a garb or a token used by certain classes of public servants;

(2) The accused neither belonged to that classes nor was he entitled to use such garb or token or batch etc.

(3) The accused did it with the intention that it may be believed that he was such a public servant. Introduction.-There are certain offences which can be committed by public servants alone, e.g., bribe can be given to or taken by only one who is a public servant.

Those offences which are common between public servants and other members of the community, e.g., murder, cheating, criminal breach of trust, etc. have been treated at their respective places. This Chapter deals with offences which exclusively pertain to public servants.

These offences may be classed as follows:

(1) Dishonest acts of public servants (Sections 166 — 167).

(2) Unlawful acts of public servants (Sections 168 — 169).

(3) Personating a public servant (Sections 170 —171).

Dishonest act of public servant (Sections 166, 167):

A, a public servant is directed by law to take property in execution, in order to satisfy a decree pronounced in Z’s favour by a court of Justice. A knowingly disobeys such direction of the law, with the knowledge that he is likely to cause injury to Z.

A has manifestly acted with malicious intent in failing to discharge his duties according to law, public servant knowingly disobeying law with intent to cause injury to any person is punishable with simple imprisonment upto one year, or with fine or with both (Section 166).

The dishonest act of public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury is also an offence under Section 167 which runs as follows:

Unlawful act of public servants (Sections 168, 269):

Public servant is punishable with simple imprisonment upto one year or fine or with both for unlawfully engaging in trade (Section 168). Engagement with the Railway Administration as apprentice trainee does not mean carrying on of trade even though stipend is paid during training.

Simple imprisonment for two years or fine or both are provided for a public servant unlawfully buying or bidding for property (Section 169). The law does not allow many acts which other members of the community may do but which public servants are restrained from doing on ground of public policy.

The Supreme Court in R. Sai Bharathi v. J. jayalalita, popularly known as TANSI CASE, has held that on a plain reading of Section 169, I.P.C., it is fairly clear that prohibition should flow from a law. Such law in the context of Section 165, I.P.C. understood, that is to say, an enacted law or a Rule or Regulation framed under such law but not an executive order which confers no right, on anybody nor sets down legally enforceable obligation. The Rules and administrative instructions governing the public servants holding the civil post have undisputedly no application in this case.

Personating a Public Servant (Sections 170, 171):

Impersonating a public servant and doing or attempting to do an act in such assumed character under colour of office is punishable with imprisonment of either description upto two years or fine or both (Section 170).


Two elements are essential to constitute an offence of personating—

(i) A person (a) speaking to hold a particular office as a public servant, knowing that he does not hold that office;

(b) Falsely personating any other person holding such office; (ii) such person in such assumed character to do or attempt to do an act in the colour of office.

There must be some act or some attempt to do an act under colour of office to constitute an offence under this section. Assumption of a false character in the absence of such act or attempt is not punishable under this section.

The gist of the offence consists in the false assumption of the role of public servant. To constitute offence under Section 170 it is not necessary that the act done or attempted to be done should be such an act as might legally be done by the public servant personated.

The act done ‘under colour’ of an office is an act having some relation to the office which the accused pretends to hold. A mere promise to appoint a person as a constable does not amount to an act under colour of the office of a C.I.D. Officer.

Such recommendation or promise might be made, not necessarily by a C.I.D. Officer only. Nor can writing on the paper something unintelligible and nonsense can be regarded as an act done under colour of the office of a C.I.D. Officer.

The accused was charged with an offence under Section 170 because he avoided paying one anna for a platform ticket by pretending upon entering the station platform that he was a C.I.D. Officer. The Court set aside his conviction.

Wearing or carrying a garb or token, worn or carried by a certain class of public servants by a person not belonging to such class with fraudulent intention is punishable with imprisonment of either description which may extend to three months or with fine upto Rs. 200 or with both (Section 171).


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