Section 176 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!

The second para says that if the notice or information is required with respect to commission of an offence, or for the purpose of preventing the commission of an offence, or for apprehending an offender, the punishment shall be simple imprisonment for a term extending up to six months, or fine extending up to one thousand rupees, or both.

According to the third para of the section, if the notice or information is required by an order passed under section 565 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (corresponding to section 356, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973), the punishment shall be simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to six months, or fine extending up to one thousand rupees, or both.

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According to the explanation given under section 177 of the Code, in section 176 the word ‘offence’ includes any act committed at any place out of India, which, if committed in India, would be punishable under any of the sections 302, 304, 382, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 435, 436, 449, 450, 457, 458, 459 and 460 of the Code; and the word ‘offender’ includes any person who is alleged to have been guilty of any such act.

This section is applicable only when someone is legally bound to give notice or furnish information on any subject to a public servant. If one is not legally bound to do so, he cannot be hauled up under this section. The omission on his part has to be intentional. If the omission is an honest mistake without any intention on his part, this section is not applicable.

The penalty is enhanced where the notice or information to be given is with respect to commission, or preventing the commission, of an offence. The penalty shall be still enhanced in the sense that an order for rigorous imprisonment could also be made where the notice or information required to be given is required by an order passed under section 565 (1) of the old Code of 1898, corresponding to section 356 of the Code of 1973, regarding notifying address of previously convicted offender.

Where required information has reached the police by other sources, the object of the law is fulfilled, and an accused failing in his duty is not liable. Similarly, where more than one person are legally bound to inform, and some of them do give the information, persons failing to give information are not to be held guilty under this section.

Where a person bound to inform sends the information through another reliable person, who fails to give that information, the person who sent the information had discharged his duty. This section makes no provision for rigorous imprisonment in the first two paras.

Where the mother of a suspected murderer merely said that her son and daughter-in- law had gone to bed at around ten in the night and in the morning she did not find her son while her daughter-in-law was lying dead, section 176 did not apply as there was no intentional omission on her part to inform the police about the incident because she did not know about it.

In S. N. Naik v. State of Maharashtra it was held that a doctor is not obliged to. inform the police under section 134 of the Motor Vehicles Act when he treats a patient who has met with a vehicle accident, and, therefore, there is no case made out of intentional omission under section 176 of the Code.

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