Offences against property

Offences against property

Property can be categorized into two parts movable and immovable. Any offence which is committed against either of the two is punishable under the Indian Penal Code. And these offences are given in chapter seventeen of the Indian Penal Code which covers section 378 to section 462.And these are theft, extortion, robbery and dacoity, criminal misappropriation of property, criminal breach of trust, receiving of stolen property, cheating, mischief and criminal trespass. Let us discuss these offences in detail.

Theft– Whoever, intending to take dishonestly any moveable property out of the possession of any person without that per­son’s consent, moves that property in order to such taking, is said to commit theft. [1]

Ingredients of Theft-The following are the essential ingredients of theft:-

  • Dishonest Intention to take property
  • The property must be movable
  • The property should be taken out of the possession of another person
  • The property should be taken without the consent of that person
  • There must be some moving of the property in order to accomplish the taking of it.

1. Intention to take dishonestly-Intention is the essence of the offence of theft. Intention must be dishonest and it must so exist at the time of taking the property. The intention to take dishonestly must exist at the time of moving of the property. Taking need not be permanently or with an intention to appropriate the things taken.

2. Movable property-Property subjected to steal must be movable. Things attached to the land may become movable property by severance may of itself be theft. Electricity running in electric wires is not movable property.

3. Taking out of the possession of another person- The property must be in the possession of the prosecutor Hossenee vs Raj Krishna[2] whether he is the owner of it or is in possession of it on some other manner. Thus, there can be no theft of wild animals but theft is possible of tamed animals, birds, fishes, etc. It was held in Pyare Lal Bhargava vs State of Rjasthan[3] Even a temporary removal of an office file and giving it to another person for a couple of days may amount to theft

4. Taking without consent- In order to constitute theft, the property must have been taken without the consent of the person in possession of it. Consent may be implied or express, or may be given either by the person in possession, or by any person having for that purpose authority either express or implied.

5. Moves that property- The offence of theft is complete when there is dishonest moving of the property. The least removal of the thing taken from the place where it was before amount to taking though it may not be carried off. It is not necessary that the property should be removed out of the owner’s reach or carried away from the place in which it was found.

2. Extortion-Whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that person, or to any other, and thereby dishon­estly induces the person so put in fear to deliver to any person any property or valuable security, or anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable security, commits “extor­tion”.[4]

Ingredients-

1.  Intentionally putting a person in fear of injury to either himself or others

2. Dishonestly inducing the person to deliver a   valuable property or security to any person

In R.S. Nayak vs A.R Antulay and Anr[5] the Supreme Court held that for an offence of extortion, fear or threat must be used

3. Robbery-In all robbery there is either theft or extortion. When theft is robbery.—Theft is “robbery” if, in order to the committing of the theft, or in committing the theft, or in carrying away or attempting to carry away property obtained by the theft, the offender, for that end, voluntarily causes or attempts to cause to any person death or hurt or wrongful restraint, or fear of instant death or of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint. When extortion is robbery.—Extortion is “robbery” if the offend­er, at the time of committing the extortion, is in the presence of the person put in fear, and commits the extortion by putting that person in fear of instant death, of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint to that person or to some other person, and, by so putting in fear, induces the person so put in fear then and there to deliver up the thing extorted.[6]

Where C and D were stealing mangoes from a tree and were surprised by B whereupon C knocked down B and B became senseless the offence of robbery was held to have been committed. Hushrut Shiekh[7]

In the case of Sikander vs State of Bihar[8]it was held that where the accused attacked his victim by knife many times and succeeded in acquiring the ear rings and key from the string of her salwar, he will be punished under this section.

4. Dacoity- When five or more persons conjointly commit or attempt to commit a robbery, or where the whole number of persons conjointly committing or attempting to commit a robbery, and persons present and aiding such commission or attempt, amount to five or more, every person so committing, attempting or aiding, is said to commit “dacoity”.[9]

It was held in State of Maharashtra vs Joseph Mingel Koli [10]When robbery is committed by five or more persons it would amount to dacoity.

5. Criminal Misappropriation of Property-Whoever dishonestly mis-appropriates or converts to his own use any movable property, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.[11]

It was held in Ramaswami Nadar vs State of Madras[12] the words ‘converts to his own use’ necessarily suggest the use or dealing with property in derogation of the rights of the owner

The words ‘dishonestly’ and ‘misappropriate’ are ingredients of section 403. U.Dhar vs State of Jharkhand[13]

6. Criminal Breach of Trust-hoever, being in any manner entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use that property, or dishonestly uses or disposes of that property in violation of any direction of law prescribing the mode in which such trust is to be discharged, or of any legal contract, express or implied, which he has made touching the discharge of such trust, or wilfully suffers any other person so to do, commits “criminal breach of trust”[14]

Essential Ingredients of criminal breach of trust

1. Entrusting any person with property or with any dominion over property

2. The person entrusted-

(a) Dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use that property

(b) Dishonestly uses or disposes of that property or willfully suffers any other person so to in violation-

(i) Of any direction of law prescribing the mode in which such trust is to be discouraged

(ii) Of any legal contract made touching the discharge of such trust

In R.K. Dalmia vs Delhi Administration[15] it was held that the words of Section 405 is wide enough to include the case of a partner, if it be proved that he was in fact entrusted with the partnership property, or with a dominion over it, and had dishonestly misappropriated it or converted it to his own will.

7. Receiving of stolen property- Property, the possession whereof has been transferred by theft, or by extortion, or by robbery, and proper­ty which has been criminally misappropriated or in respect of which criminal breach of trust has been committed, is designated as “stolen property”.[16]

Whoever dishonestly receives or retains any stolen property, knowing or having reason to believe the same to be stolen property, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.[17]

8. Cheating-Whoever, by deceiving any person, fraudulently or dishonestly induces the person so deceived to deliver any proper­ty to any person, or to consent that any person shall retain any property, or intentionally induces the person so deceived to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property, is said to “cheat”.[18]

In Satishchandra Ratanlal Shah vs State of Gujarat[19] the Supreme Court observed that inability of a person to return the loan amount cannot give rise to criminal prosecution of cheating unless fraudulent or dishonest intention is shown right at the beginning of the transaction.

9.Mischief-Whoever with intent to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to the public or to any person, causes the destruction of any property, or any such change in any property or in the situation thereof as destroys or diminishes its value or utility, or affects it injuriously, commits “mischief”.[20]

Ingredients-

1. Mens rea

2. Actus rea

3. The change given in section 425 must lead to diminishing the value or utility.

10. Criminal trespass-Whoever enters into or upon property in the possession of another with intent to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy any person in possession of such property, or having lawfully entered into or upon such property, unlawfully remains there with intent thereby to intimidate, insult or annoy any such person, or with intent to commit an offence, is said to commit “criminal trespass”.[21]

It was said in Noorul Huda Maqbool Ahmed vs Ram Deo Tyagi[22] if a trespass is with an intention to annoy or to do something illegal it would amount to criminal trespass.

Reference

[1] Section 378 of The Indian Penal Code

[2] (1873) 20 W.R. (Cr.) 80

[3] AIR 1963 SC 1094

[4] Section 383 of the Indian Penal Code

[5] 1986 Cri L.J. 1922 (SC)

[6] Section 390 of the Indian Penal Code

[7] 1860 6 WR Cr. 85

[8] 2010 IV Cri.L.J. 3854 (S.C.)

[9] Section 391 of the Indian Penal Code

[10] 1997 2 crimes 228(Bom)

[11] Section 403 of the Indian Penal Code

[12] AIR 1958 SC 56

[13] AIR 2003 S 974

[14] Section 405 of the Indian Penal Code

[15] AIR 1962 SC 1821

[16] Section 410 of the Indian Penal Code

[17] Section 411 of the Indian Penal Code

[18] Section 415 of the Indian Penal Code

[19] Criminal Appeal No. 0009 of 2019 decided on 03.01.2019

[20] Section 425 of the Indian Penal Code

[21] Section 441 of the Indian Penal Code

[22] 2011 7 SCC 95