Public servant

The expression ‘public servant’ has been defined in section 21 of the Code. This expression wherever used in the Indian Penal Code, therefore, has the same meaning as given under section 21. Section 2 (c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 also defines ‘public servant’ which determines its meaning under that Act. There are certain similarities and dissimilarities between the two definitions, and the definition given in the Code applies to cases arising under the Code, and that under the Act applies to cases arising under that Act.

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Direction of the law

The disobedience must be of a direction of law. Whatever a public servant is legally bound to obey is a direction of the law. There is a doubt as to whether the direction may be a direction under a statute or a direction issued by a competent authority, such as a court, under law. It has been held that disobedience of an order of a court, such as a temporary injunction, does not come within the ambit of this section. If a departmental rule is breached or disobeyed, this section does not apply as such rule is not a direction of law.


The word ‘injury’ has the same meaning as given under section 44 of the Code.


The word ‘person’ has been defined under section 11 of the Code.


There is no provision for rigorous imprisonment under this section.

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

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