The word ‘pretends’ means alleges falsely, makes believe, ventures, indicates, gives an impression by his actions. Mere pretending to hold some office is not enough; he must also do or attempt to do any act under colour of such office.
Any particular office
The expression ‘any particular office’ means any specified office. It is not necessary that such office must exist in reality. The office may be real or imaginary. But the accused must give an impression that he holds a specified office which he actually does not hold.
‘Falsely’ means incorrectly untruthfully, wrongfully or without basis. ‘Personates’ means gives an impression about himself to be another person, real or imaginary, which in fact he is not. In other words, he assumes a character different from his own incorrectly or untruthfully.
Colour of such office
An act is said to be in colour of office when it has some substantial relation with that office. It must be within the power or duty of that particular office. If an accused pretends to hold a certain office and does an act which is totally unrelated to the nature of the work in that office, the act cannot be said to be done in colour of such office. In Partap Singh v. State of Haryana, the accused identified himself as a Lambardar, a public servant, and attested certain securities. In fact he was not a Lambardar.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court held that section 170 of the Code is attracted and he is guilty and the expression ‘under colour of his office’ in section 170, need not have direct proximity with the duties of the office of the person impersonated. It is enough that a person pretends to tell others as to what he is when he in fact is not so.
The offence under this section is cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by any magistrate.