Section 172 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!

The section applies to cases of absconding with a view to avoid service of either summons or notice or order emanating from a public servant. The punishment has been made a little more severe where the summons or notice or order is to attend a court of justice either in person or by agent or to produce a document or an electronic record therein. There is no provision for rigorous imprisonment under this section.

Absconds

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The expression ‘absconds’ does not necessarily mean leaving a place. It includes hiding or concealing oneself. If the hiding or concealing had begun before the process was issued, to continue to hide or conceal amounts to absconding. But it does not include refusal to accept notice or abusing the process-server.

Being served with a summons, notice or order

The absconding must be in order to avoid being served with a summons, notice or order. Anything which is not to be served on the accused would, therefore, not attract this section. Consequently, a warrant not being an order to be served on the accused, as it is an order given to the police to arrest a person, does not attract this section. Similarly, absconding in order to avoid being arrested is outside the purview of this section.

The offence under this section is non-cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by any magistrate.