Whenever an offence has been committed, whoever harbours or conceals a person whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the offender, with the intention of screening him from legal punishment, if a capital offence;--shall, if the offence is punishable with death, be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine; if punishable with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment.-- and if the offence is punishable with 1*[imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment which may extend to ten years, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if the offence is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year, and not to ten years, shall be punished with imprisonment of the description provided for the offence for a term which may extend to one-fourth part of the longest term of imprisonment provided for the offence, or with fine, or with both.
The points requiring proof under Section 212 are:
- An offence was committed;
- The accused harboured or concealed some person;
- The person so harboured or concealed had committed the offence;
- The accused then knew, or had reason to believe that the person harboured or concealed was the offender;
- In harbouring or concealing him, the accused intended to screen him from legal punishment;
- As an aggravated circumstances, the accused knew that the offence committed by the person so harboured or concealed was punishable with-
(a) death; or
(b) imprisonment for life, or imprisonment which may extend to ten years. \
The word ‘harbour’ includes supplying a person with shelter, food, drink, money, clothes, arms, ammunition or means of conveyance or assisting a person in any way to evade apprehension. Mere knowledge of the whereabouts of the offender does not amount to harbouring him, unless the alleged harbourer is guilty of providing the person with food, shelter, etc. The exception to Section 212 provides that this section shall not extend to any case in which the harbouring or the concealment is done by the husband or wife of the offender. An offence under Section 212 presupposes that some other offence has been committed by another person whom the accused harbours or conceals with the intention of screening the other person from legal punishment. The harbouring of the person must be done with the intention of screening the person from legal punishment.