The Post Office Act was first enacted in 1866 and was subsequently amended by Act III of 1882 and Act XVI of 1896. Certain lacunas in the Act became evident in the requirements of postal work. Therefore, to rectify this problem, the Indian Post Office (IPO) Bill was introduced in 1898.
The Legislature passed the Indian Post Office Bill in Parliament on 22 March 1898, which was enforced on 1 July 1898 as The Indian Post Office Act, 1898. The Act was enacted to eradicate the defects and omissions that had been brought to the notice of the Government in the bill of 1866.
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The Indian Post Office Act
The Indian Post Office Act was enacted in 1898. Prior to the Act, many defects, such as inadequate protection to the post offices and limited to no power conferred upon the officers, were observed in the Post Office Act. During the 1866 Act, various schemes, postal insurances, money order systems, and value payable systems, which were introduced in the later years, remained outside the provisions of the Act and were required to be based on legislative enactment.
Finally, with the development of Post Offices in India and the implementation of English postal legislation, the enactment of specific penalties has become apparent. To address these issues, another act was enacted and enforced after 30 years of the old Act.
This Act conferred protection and powers that have been necessary for the maintenance and expansion of postal business. Postal business includes all postal insurance, the value payable post, and the post office money order system.
Objective of the Act
According to the Preamble of the Act, the objective is to consolidate and amend the law relating to the Post Offices in India.
The Act declares and limits the Government’s liability regarding such matters and reserves the Government’s powers to deal with numerous questions regarding postal practice and procedures affecting the public.
The Indian Post Office Rules
The Indian Post Office Rules, 1933, originates from the IPO Act of 1898 and is the subsidiary legislation by which Products and services are detailed and a brief description is brought on the various Postal services administered in India. The IPO Rules has eight chapters with 225 rules.
All IPO rules, as amended till 1 January 1975, have been published in the Post and Telegraphs Manual Volume 1, Legislative Enactments, Part 1, Fifth edition. Such amended rules are incorporated in the Indian Post Office Rules, 1933. Subsequently, whenever a rule was amended through a gazette notification, the list of the gazette notifications were noted along with the GSR number and date of issue of the gazette notification.
Rates of Postage
The IPO Rules provides for the following postage rates to be chargeable on postal articles:
|Postal Articles||Postage Rates|
|Letters Cards||Rs. 2.50/-|
|Postcards not being postcards containing printed communication||For a single postcard- 50 paise
For a reply postcard- Rs. 1/-
|Postcards containing printed communication||Rs. 6.00/-|
|Competition Post Cards||Rs. 10/-|
|Meghdoot Post Cards||25 paise|
Penalties and Procedure
Chapter X of the Act provides the penalties and procedures as follows:
|A person in charge of carrying or delivering mail bags or postal bags is guilty of intoxication or carelessness or delays in conveyance of such postage articles||49||Fine up to Rs 50.|
|When a person in charge of carrying or delivering mailbags or postal bags voluntarily withdraws from his/her duties without permission||50||Imprisonment up to 1 month or fine up to Rs 50 or both.|
|When a person in charge of postal bags or postage articles maintains a register but makes false entry in such register||51||Imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 100 rupees or both|
|Any officer of the post office commits theft or dishonestly misappropriated any postal articles||52||Imprisonment up to 7 years and fine|
|Any officer of the Post Office opens or suffers to be opened any postal article in course of transmission by post||53||Maximum 2 years of Imprisonment or fine or both|
|Any officer of the post office fraudulently makes any wrong official mark on a postal article or alters or removes any official mark from any postal article||54||Imprisonment up to 2 years and fine|
|Any officer of the post office fraudulently prepares any documents incorrectly or alters or destroys any documents||55||Imprisonment up to 2 years and fine|
|Any officer of the post office sends by post or puts in any mail bag any postal article for which charge has not been paid||56||Imprisonment up to 2 years and fine|
Powers of Central Government Under the Act
The Central Government has the power to:
- Fix the postage rates and other charges concerning postal articles sent by the inland post (Section 7).
- Require for prepayment of postage charges on inland postal articles and prescribe the manner of such prepayment (Section 8).
- Prescribe the postage charges on inland postal articles when postage is not prepaid or insufficiently prepaid.
- Require registration of newspapers for transmission by inland post (Section 9).
- Declare rates of foreign postage (Section 10).
- Make rules as to the sale, supply and use of postage stamps (Section 16).
- Make rules regarding the transmission of articles by post (Section 21).
- Make rules for the registration of postal articles registration fees, and direct for double levying of fees in case of previous failure to pay fees (Section 29).
- Make rules regarding the insurance of postal articles, declare the classes of articles that may be insured, prescribe the manner of payment of insurance premiums, etc. (Section 32)
- Make rules as to transmission by post of value payable postal articles(Section 35)
- Make rules regarding the disposal of postal articles that cannot be delivered for some reason (Section 37).
Duties of Officers of the Post Office
The Act provides the following duties of the officers of the post office:
- Officers of the Post office are responsible for collecting and delivering mail, including letters, parcels, and other postal articles, to and from the public. This duty involves ensuring the safe and timely transmission of the mail.
- They are responsible for imposing the charges fixed by the Central Government, calculating and collecting postage charges and other fees for postal services, such as sending letters and parcels. They must ensure that the correct postage is charged and collected.
- Some officers are also endowed with providing savings and financial services to the public, including the operation of savings accounts and the sale of financial products such as National Savings Certificates (NSCs).
- They maintain and manage postal accounts and records to ensure that financial business related to postal services is accurately recorded and balanced.
- They must ensure the security and confidentiality of mail and postal articles, preventing theft, tampering, or unauthorised use of postal articles. They are also expected to assist customers with their postal needs, answer queries, and resolve issues related to postal services.
The Indian Post Office Act of 1898 was a landmark act that revolutionised the Post Office business, set forth regulations regarding the post office, upheld the rights of officers of the post office, and empowered the Central Government to make rules in some instances. The Act provides a vital guide for maintaining post offices in India, easing its functioning, and eradicating societal conflicts relating to such business.
FAQs on Indian Post Office Act
What is the Indian Post Office Act of 1898?
The Indian Post Office Act of 1898 is a legislation of the legislature governing the functioning of the postal system in India. The Act outlines the rules, regulations, powers, and limitations of the Indian postal authorities.
When was the Indian Post Office Act enforced?
The Indian Post Office Act was enforced on 1 July 1898.
What is the applicability of the Indian Post Office Act 1898?
Per Section 1 of the Act, The Indian Post Office Act of 1898 applies to the entire territory of India, including all states and union territories. It establishes a uniform postal system across the country.
What is the objective of the Indian Post Office Act of 1898?
The objective of this Act is to regulate and streamline postal services in India, and such postal services include mail carriage, delivery of postal articles, and postal savings.
How does the Indian Post Office Act protect the confidentiality of mail and postal articles?
The Act has provisions, that is, Sections 53 and 54, that protect the privacy and confidentiality of mail and postal articles. The Act makes it illegal for postal officers to open, delay, tamper, or alter any mail/postal articles during its transmission unless authorised by law. It also provides penalties for the officers who do so.
What are the various offences under the Indian Post Office Act of 1898?
The Act prescribes penalties for various offences, such as mail theft, alteration of postal articles, counterfeiting postage stamps, and obstructing postal officials in their functioning of duties. Penalties can include fines and imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offence.
What provisions does the Indian Post Office Act include in regulating postage rates?
The Act provides the legal provisions (Sections 7,8, and 9) for setting and regulating postage rates for different classes of postal articles, both domestic and international. The Act empowers the Central Government to change these rates as needed.