Section 491 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!

The section contemplates that the offender must be bound by a lawful contract to attend on or to supply the wants of any person. Such person must be helpless or incapable of providing for his own safety or of supplying his own wants. Such helplessness or incapability on his part must be by reason of youth or of unsoundness of mind, or of a disease or bodily weakness. The offender must voluntarily omit to do so.

The primary object of this provision is to bring such persons who contract to take care of infants, sick and helpless under the purview of the criminal law if they fail in their obligation because the consequences of such failure may sometimes be disastrous.

The offence under this section is non-cognizable, bailable and compoundable, and is triable by any magistrate.

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