Section 218 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!

The section requires that the public servant must frame the record or writing in his capacity as a public servant. There must be intention on his part to cause or knowledge that he is likely thereby to cause loss or injury to the public or to any person. If such is not the case then there must be an intention to save, or knowledge that it is likely that he will thereby save any person from legal punishment. Again, if such may also not be the case then there has to be an intention to save or knowledge that he is likely thereby to save, any property from forfeiture or other charge to which it is liable by law.

Framing of a wrong revenue record by entering the names of two persons as tenants of a certain plot causing loss or injury to the recorded tenant does not by itself make the revision petitioner, a lekphal, guilty under this section, especially because the entries were made on the basis of the fact that those two persons were actually in occupation of the land, and also the entries could have been corrected by the higher revenue authorities.

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Wrongly preparing notes by a sub-inspector for the concoction of a false defence for himself and his colleagues is punishable under this section. Preparation of a certain page in the officer’s note book by a sub-divisional officer of the public works department, and then tearing of that leaf and replacing the same with another with one of the entries with respect to the respondent having been omitted is punishable under section 218 of the Code subject to the condition that prior sanction under section 197, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (same section under the 1973 Code) has been obtained.

Preparing an incorrect record by a custom official because he had allegedly received some consideration in the form of cash and smuggled goods may still entitle the accused benefit of doubt because the cash was found in one or more packages of the smuggled goods said to have been lying unaccounted for in the customs house. Similarly, in case of the main offence remaining unsubstantiated, the accused has a right to be given benefit of doubt as far as the offence under section 218 of the Code is concerned.

In Maulud Ahmed v. State, the accused, a police officer, prepared an incorrect record with the intention of saving a person from legal punishment under section 304-A of the Code for having committed rashly or negligently the death of a person in company of others during shooting in a forest. The person was ultimately acquitted of the charge under section 304-A. The Supreme Court held that the acquittal of the main offender does not make any difference to the appellant’s liability under this section and he would still be guilty under section 218 of the Code.

Making wrong entries in general diary by an assistant sub-inspector in order to suppress crimes committed by a person would entail liability under this section.

Sections 193 and 218

Sometimes it is believed that section 218 is a minor form of section 193. The fact, however, is that these two sections deal with distinct offences. These may overlap at times, but that does not mean that they are not separate. The crime of fabricating false evidence is a general offence which does not specify the document or the person.

The fabrication may be in any form and it may be done by any person. But section 218 deals with intentionally preparing a wrong record by a public servant with a view to so injure a person or property as is stated in the section. Under section 193 the false evidence or fabricating false evidence must be for the purpose of being used at any stage of a judicial proceeding whereas section 218 deals with framing of incorrect record or writing by a public servant with the intention of saving a person from punishment or property from forfeiture, and consequently this may not be related to a judicial proceeding.

The offence under section 218 is non-cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by magistrate of the first class.