Report No. 38
120. Section 68.-
Under section 68, whoever fraudulently retains or wilfully secretes or makes away with or keeps or detains, or, when required by an officer of the Post Office, neglects or refuses to deliver up any postal article which ought to have been delivered to any other person, etc. is punishable. A private Member's Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha1 proposed an amendment of this section whereunder, in substance, a person who does not return to the Post Office such a postal article becomes punishable; the existing requirement that there should first be a requisition by a postal officer before mere neglect or refusal to deliver may be punished, would, thus, be dispensed with, under the proposed amendment.
We do not think that such a far-reaching change is advisable. While it would be a good thing if every person manifested his civic sense by returning a postal article wrongly delivered to him, even without a request from the Post Office, failure to do so should not be made an offence. Attention may, in this connection, be invited to section 55 of the English Act, which also does not go to that length.
1. See Bill No. 31 of 1962 (Lok Sabha), introduced by Shri Satish Chandra Samant.
121. There is one point on which the section in the English Act1 differs from and is wider than section 68. Under the English Act, the provision is applicable to a postal article (in course of transmission by post) or any mail bag which has been found by the offender or any other person (besides a postal article which ought to have been delivered to any other person). This seems to be intended to cover a case where an article meant for 'X' is found by 'Y', though not "delivered" to him (the assumption being that the words "ought to have been delivered to any other person" do not cover this case). It does not, however, appear to be necessary to make such an elaborate provision. So far as articles of value are concerned, such cases would be rare, because they would be insured or, at least, registered, and, therefore, there would always be actual delivery by a postal official.
In its comment on our draft Report, a State Government2 had stated:-
"The real deficiency in the section which required to be made up is, that it does not cover postal articles found by a person though they were not delivered to him and it has been sought to be made good in the corresponding section of the British Post Office Act of 1953, section 55, by introducing the words "any postal packet in the course of transmission by post or mail bag which has been found by him or by any other person." In the opinion of this Government, section 68 of the Indian Post Office Act should be remodelled on the pattern of section 55 of the English Act of 1953.".
No such change is necessary, in our view.
1. Section 55, Post Office Act, 1953.
2. S. No. 170 (Suggestion of a State Government).