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SECTION 188 IPC - Indian Penal Code - Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant


Last Updated: 01 Jun, 2024
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty


Table of Contents
  1. IPC 188 in Simple Words
  2. Section 188 IPC- Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant
  3. What refers to order duly promulgated by public servant under Section 188?
  4. What happens if you violate an order by the public servant? 
  5. What refers to disobedience of order under Section 188?
  6. Not having knowledge that disobedience may cause harm cannot be a defence
  7. Illustration
  8. Nature of offence under section 188 of IPC
  9. IPC Section 188 related FAQs
Whoever, knowing that, by an order promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to promulgate such order, he is directed to abstain from a certain act, or to take certain order with certain property in his possession or under his management disobeys such direction, shall, if such disobedience causes or tends to cause obstruction, annoyance or injury, or risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury, to any persons lawfully employed, be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both;

and if such disobedience causes or tends to cause danger to human life, health or safety, or causes or tends to cause a riot or affray, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.



IPC 188 in Simple Words

In simple words, Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code states that if someone disobeys a lawful order given by a public servant, and it causes annoyance, risk of harm, or danger to others, they can be punished with imprisonment or fine.


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Offence : Disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant, If such disobedience causes obstruction, annoyance or injury to persons lawfully employed


Punishment : Simple Imprisonment for 1 Month or Fine or Both


Cognizance : Cognizable


Bail : Bailable


Triable : Any Magistrate



Offence : If such disobedience causes danger to human life, health or safety, etc.


Punishment : 6 Months or Fine or Both


Cognizance : Cognizable


Bail : Bailable


Triable : Any Magistrate




Section 188 IPC- Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant

One should always keep in mind that it is a moral responsibility of every citizen to obey the laws ordained. When a person commits an offence by disobeying any order promulgated, Indian Penal Code gives strict provisions regarding the punishments for such offences. One such provision under the Indian Penal Code is Section 188 that talks about disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant.
 


What refers to order duly promulgated by public servant under Section 188?

As per this section, when a person knows that an order has been passed or pronounced in public by a public servant and he knows that he is bound to abide by it, despite this fact if he does not follows it, that person is said to commit an offence under section 188 of IPC.

To establish an offence under IPC 188 following essentials must be there:

  • There was promulgation of an order

  • Such promulgation was made by a public servant

  • Public servant was legally empowered to make the promulgation

  • Promulgation directed not to do certain things or to take certain orders in connection with certain property in his possession or management

  • Accused was aware of the promulgation

  • Such promulgation was disobeyed by the accused

  • Disobedience so committed has caused or tended to cause obstruction, annoyance, injury, or risk of the same to a person lawfully employed or caused or tendered to cause danger to human life, health or safety or a riot or affray.

It is not necessary whether the act committed by a person intends to harm others or not, rather his mere knowledge that such an order was passed and he disobeys it, is enough to make him liable for committing an offence under this section.
 

What happens if you violate an order by the public servant? 

Under Section 188, there two offences:

Disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant, If such disobedience causes obstruction, annoyance or injury to persons lawfully employed. If a person is charged for this offence he/she can be punished with simple imprisonment for 1 month or fine of Rs 200 or both.

However, if such disobedience causes danger to human life, health or safety, etc. the person can be punished with simple imprisonment for 6 months or fine up to Rs 1000 or both.
 


What refers to disobedience of order under Section 188?

Whenever an order is announced publically by a public servant, who is legally authorized to put such order into effect by an official proclamation, if any person having the knowledge that the order passed abstains him/her from certain act, or to take certain order with certain property in his possession or under his management, disobeys the order which causes hindrance, annoyance or injury, or possibility of obstruction, to the person who was legally employed to pass such order will be held responsible for disobedience to order duly promulgated by the public servant. Also if disobedience leads to a riot of affray or puts human life at risk then the person will be held liable under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. However, it is not essential for disobedience to cause harm. Mere knowledge of disobeying and knowledge that such disobedience may cause harm is sufficient to commit an offence under this section.

Madras High Court in one of its judgments specified that a person may be legally justified, though not lawfully empowered. For example, a Police Inspector may stop the playing of music or speech made by someone, if he apprehends breach of peace, but he is not lawfully empowered to do so within the meaning of this Section. Also, the Promulgation of the order would mean “to make known by public declaration, to publish, to disseminate or to proclaim". The normal practice that is followed is, by way of a publication in Gazette and by announcing the same in newspapers with wide circulation.
 


Not having knowledge that disobedience may cause harm cannot be a defence

Madras High Court in one of its judgment stated, if in a town where no order was passed for chaining up of dogs, A suffers his dog to run about loose, A will not be liable to punishment for any mischief which the animal may cause unless it can be shown that A knew the animal to be dangerous. But if an order for confining dogs has been issued, and if A knew of that order, it will not be a defence for him to allege, and even to prove, that he believed his dog to be perfectly harmless. If the Court thinks that A's disobedience has caused harm or risk of harm, A will be liable to punishment. On the other hand, if the Court thinks that there was no danger and that the local order was an inappropriate one, A will not be liable to punishment.
 


Illustration

An order is promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to promulgate such order, directing that a religious procession shall not pass down a certain street. A knowingly disobeys the order and thereby causes danger of riot. A has committed the offence defined in this section.

For example, in a landmark decision, the magistrate issued an order attaching certain standing crops. Even though the accused knew about this attachment order he reaped and removed the crop. It was said by the Orissa High Court that since the disobedience of the order by the accused had a tendency to cause riot or affray, the accused will be held liable under section 188 of Indian Penal Code
 


Nature of offence under section 188 of IPC

According to the First Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973, offences under Section 188 are cognizable, bailable, and can be tried by any magistrate, which means a charge under Section 188 would necessitate arrest and a person charged under this Section can be released on bail.

This disobedience may cause or tend to cause harm to life, health, safety or property, or may cause or tend to cause a riot, affray or other commotion. It may be punished by imprisonment for up to six months or by a fine of up to one thousand rupees.





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