Report No. 42
10.11. Sections 178 to 180 amended.-
The next three sections do not call for any comments except in regard to the maximum punishment provided therein. In sections 178 and 179, the limit of one thousand rupees for the fine may be removed by omitting the words "which may extend to one thousand rupees". In section 180, the punishment provided may be enhanced to "simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both."
10.12. Section 181.- No change is needed in section 181.
10.13. Section 18.-application to volunteered statements.-
There is some uncertainty as to whether information given in answer to questions put by a public servant falls under section 182. The majority of the High Courts have answered the question in the affirmative and taken a broad view about the scope of the word 'gives' . They disagree with the earlier Lahore case1 on the subject, which limited section 182 to 'volunteered statements'. We also think that there is no justification for construing the expression 'gives information' narrowly.
A Kerala case,2 however, illustrates the special position as regards statements under section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Here also the position will be changed after the obligation to answer 'truly' is added in that section as has been recommended in our Report on the Code of Criminal Procedure.3 In the circumstances, we do not suggest any amendment of section 182 in this respect.
1. Mangu v. Emperor, AIR 1914 Lah 360.
2. State of Kerala v. Markose, AIR 1962 Ker 133 (reviews cases).
3. 41st Report, Vol. I, para. 14.10.
10.14. Overlap between sections 182 and 211.-
The overlapping between section 182 and section 211 will be dealt with in the next Chapter.
10.15. Punishment provision amended.-
The punishment provided in this section should be increased to "imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
10.16. Sections 18.-difference of opinion on meaning of 'lawful authority'.-
Section 183 punishes resistance to the taking of any property by the lawful authority of a public servant. We find that there is a conflict between the Madras High Court1 and the Bombay High Court,2 regarding the construction of the words "lawful authority". The Madras High Court, relying on the first and second paragraphs of section 99, has held that the two sections 99 and 183 should be construed together, and that, even if the act of the public servant is not strictly justified by law, nevertheless, where he acts in good faith under colour of office, he should be deemed to be acting in 'lawful authority', and resistance to his action should be held to be an offence under section 183.
The Bombay High Court has dissented from this view and held that resistance to the action of a public officer which is not strictly justifiable by law, even though the action may be done in good faith under colour of office, will not be punishable under this section. We consider that the Bombay view is the correct view, and since the question has not arisen elsewhere, we recommend no amendment on the point. One of us, however, favoured the Madras view and suggested an amendment to give effect to it.
1. Queen-Empress v. Tiruchittambala Pathan, 1898 ILR 21 Mad 78.
2. Sakharam Rawaji Pawar v. Emp., AIR 1935 Born 233.
10.17. Section 184 revised.-
The mens rea for the purposes of this section is restricted to intentional obstruction. We consider that knowledge of likelihood of obstruction also should be covered as in section 186, and recommend that the word 'voluntarily' should be substituted for the word 'intentionally'.
The offence under this section is a petty one, and imprisonment is not necessary. It should be removed. The fine, however, should be increased from Rs. 500.00 to Rs. 1,000. Accordingly, section 184 may be revised as below.-
"184. Obstructing sale of property offered for sale by authority of public servant.- Whoever voluntarily obstructs any sale of property offered for sale by the lawful authority of any public servant, as such, shall be punished with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees."
10.18. Section 185 amended.-
The punishment provided in section 185 may also be the same as in the preceding section, i.e., fine upto Rs. 1,000 but no imprisonment.
10.19. Section 18.-application when public servant's action not strictly justified by law.-
Section 186 punishes a person who voluntarily obstructs a public servant in the discharge of his public functions. There is a conflict of judicial opinion as regards the construction of the words 'in the discharge of his public functions' occurring in this section, a conflict similar to that relating to the words 'lawful authority' under section 183. Do these words include only those acts which are strictly in accordance with law, or do they include even those acts which though not strictly justified in law, are done by public servants in good faith under colour of office ?
It is unnecessary to cite here the various decisions on the subject1. Even in the same High Court, the decisions have not been unanimous.2 This controversy has been referred to in a judgment of the Supreme Court3, but not settled by that judgment. There is no need to discuss the relative merits of the two views. One of us was in favour of a liberal construction of the words, so as to include those acts of public servants against which there is no right of private defence as mentioned in the first two paragraphs of section 99, and suggested an amendment to section 183 by way of clarification.
The majority, however, were of the view that the only obstructions of those actions of public servants which are strictly in accordance with law should be punishable. In view of this difference of opinion amongst us, we do not recommend any amendment to this section. It may remain in the present form and the law may be clarified if and when the matter is taken to the Supreme Court.
1. See Ratanlal Law of Crimes, (1966), pp. 469, 470.
2. See for instance, Bhawoo Jivaji, ILR 12 Born 377.
3. Santosh Kumar Jain, AIR 1951 SC 201: 1951 SCR 303
10.20. Section 18.-meaning of 'obstruction'.-
There is a conflict of decisions as to the scope of the word 'obstruction' in section 186. The same question has also been discussed at length in several English cases. These decisions, English as well as Indian, do not yield a precise test as to what constitutes obstruction. We considered a suggestion that it should be made clear, e.g., by an explanation, that 'obstruction' is not confined to physical obstruction, but the majority of us were not in favour of it. If courts have due regard to the dictionary meaning of the word 'obstruction' (which meaning is fairly wide), then no difficulty should arise. English cases relating to section 51(3), Police Act, 1964 (or earlier provisions corresponding thereto) also leave the matter elastic1. No amendment is, therefore, recommended on this point.
1. See Bastable v. Little, (1907) 1 KB 59; Betts v. Stevens, (1910) 1 KB 1; Hinchliffee v. Sheldon, (1955) 3 All ER 406; and the discussion in Sykes v. D.P.P., (1961) 3 All ER 33 (41) (per Lord Denning).