This section was added in the Indian Penal Code by the Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1942. Simultaneously, section 216-B was repealed by this Amendment Act. That section, before its repeal, defined the word ‘harbour’ as used in sections 212, 216 and 216-A of the Code.

Under section 52-A the definition of the word has been widened. This section, at the same time, has kept section 157, and section 130 where a husband harbours his wife or vice versa, out of its purview. The definition is not exhaustive as is apparent from the language of this section. To evade apprehension, when someone supplies to a person the things enumerated in this section, the same is included within the definition of the word ‘harbour’.

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Similarly, to evade apprehension, when someone assists a person by any means, whether enumerated in this section or not, the same is also included within the definition of the word ‘harbour’. This concept is similar to the concept of ‘accessory after the fact’ in English criminal law.

In State of Tamil Nadu v. Nalini and others, the Supreme Court held that a wife could not be charged for harbouring her husband merely because she was living in the house with her husband.

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