Section 120 of Indian Penal Code – Explained!

Section 120 of IPC – “Concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment.”

Whoever, intending to facilitate or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby facilitate the commission of an offence punishable with imprisonment,

voluntarily conceals, by any act or illegal omissions, the existence of a design to commit such offence, or makes any representation which he knows to be false respecting such design,

If offence be committed—If offence be not committed, shall, if the offence be committed, be punished with imprisonment of the description provided for the offence, for a term which may extend to one-fourth, and

if the offence be not committed, to one-eighth, of the longest term of such imprisonment, or with such fine as is provided for the offence, or with both.

Illustration:

A, knowing that dacoity is about to be committed at B, falsely informs the Magistrate that a dacoity is about to be committed at C, a place in an opposite
direction, and thereby misleads the Magistrate with intent to facilitate the commission of the offence. The dacoity is committed at B in pursuance of the design. A is punishable under this section (Section 118).

(b) Which is punishable with same as for the offence or both; imprisonment.

(c) By a public servant whose duty it is to prevent such offence-

Punishment is, (i) if the offence is committed, 1/4 of the maximum imprisonment for the offence, or

(ii) If the offence is not committed 1/8 of the maximum imprisonment for the offence, or same fine as for the offence or both. (Section 120).

(i) Where the offence is punishable with death or imprisonment for life, punishment is 10 years; where the offence is punishable with imprisonment, punishment is 1/2 of the maximum imprisonment for the offence or same fine as for the offence; or both, if the offence is committed; and 1/4 of the maximum imprisonment for the offence or same fine as for the offence, or both, if the offence is not committed. (Section 119).

Illustration:

A, an officer of police, being legally bound to give information of all designs to commit robbery which may come to his knowledge, and knowing that B designs to commit robbery, omits to give such information, with intent to facilitate the commission of that offence. Here, A has by an illegal omission concealed the existence of B’s design, and is liable to punishment according to the provisions of Section 119.

Can a person knowing of a design to commit a dacoity and voluntarily concealing the existence of that design with the knowledge that such design will facilitate the commission of dacoity be charged with abetment of dacoity?

Under Section 107 concealment of a design to commit an offence constitutes an abetment. But in the present case the accused should be charged with an offence under Section 118 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with death or transportation for life) which specially provides for such an offence, and not with the abetment of dacoity.

Whoever, intending to facilitate or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby facilitate the commission of an offence punishable with imprisonment:

Voluntarily conceals, by any act or illegal omission, the existence of a design to commit such offence or makes any representation which he knows to be false respecting such design.

Shall, if the offence be committed, be punished with imprisonment of the description provided for the offence, for a term which may extend to one-fourth, and, if the offence be not committed, to one-eighth of the longest term of such imprisonment, or with such fine as is provided for the offence, or with both (Section 120).

This section is complementary to Section 118 which applies only to offence rule to offences punishable with imprisonment. All offences, excepting those punishable with fine, are included in those two sections.