Theft and Extortion

By | February 7, 2018
Criminal Law Notes

Theft comes under the purview of offences against property which extends from section 378 to section 462. Theft has been dealt under section 378 to 382. Theft is an offence in which movable property of a person is taken away without his consent.  Theft has been defined in Section 378 of IPC. Simultaneously the punishment for the commitment of act of theft has also been defined in Section 379 of IPC.

Section 378 in The Indian Penal Code – Theft

Whoever intending to take dishonestly any movable 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.

Essential Ingredients –

  1. There must be a dishonest intention of a person to take the property.
  2. The property must be movable.
  3. Such movable property must be taken away.
  4. The property must be taken away from the possession of a person. In other words there must be a possession of that property.
  5. Such property must be taken away without the consent of such person.
  6. Dishonest Intention:-

It is also called as malafide intention which can be represented in the form of mens rea. This mens rea is the base of the theft. The petitioner must prove that a thing was taken away with a dishonest intention.

However, intention is a mental element which is difficult to prove but circumstantial evidences are considered for this purpose.  The main measurement of dishonest intention is to make a wrongful loss to another person then such act is considered to be done with dishonest intention.

Movable Property:-

The subject of theft is movable property. Immovable property cannot be stolen. A movable property is a property which is able to move easily or which is not immovable. It means the thing permanently attached to the earth is immovable property, is not the subject of theft. It becomes capable of being the subject of theft when it is severed from the earth.

Be taken away out of Possession of another Person:-

The property must be in the possession of another person from where it is removed. There is no theft of wild animals, birds or fish while at a large but there is a theft of tamed animals.

Illustration – ‘A’ finds a ring lying on the road which was in the possession of any person.  A by taking it commits no theft, though he may commit criminal misappropriation of property.

It Should Be Taken Without Consent of That Person:-

The consent may be express or implied and may be given either of the person in possession, or by any person having for that purpose express or implied authority.

Illustration – ‘A’ being on friendly terms with Z, goes into Z’s library in Z’s absence, and takes away a book without Z’s express consent for the purpose of merely reading it (with the intention of returning it)Here it is probable that A may have conceived that he had Z’s implied consent to use Z’s book. If this was A’s impression, A has not committed theft.

In Pyarelal Bhargava v. State AIR 1963, a govt. employee took a file from the govt. office, presented it to B, and brought it back to the office after two days. It was held that permanent taking of the property is not required, even a temporary movement of the property with dishonest intention is enough and thus this was theft.

Section 379 in The Indian Penal Code – Punishment for theft.

Whoever commits theft shall be pun­ished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

Section 380 in The Indian Penal Code – Theft in dwelling house, etc.

Whoever commits theft in any building, tent or vessel, which building, tent or vessel is used as a human dwelling, or used for the custody of property, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

The word dwelling house means a building tent or vessel in which a person lives or remains whether permanently or temporarily. A railway waiting room is a building used for human dwelling. Theft of articles from the roof of a house fall under the section. [Satho Tanti vs. State of Bihar, (1974) Cr LJ 76 (Pat)] Object of this section is to give greater security only to property deposited in a house and not to the in immovable property of the person or the party from whom it is stolen.

Section 381 in The Indian Penal Code – Theft by clerk or servant of property in possession of master.

Whoever, being a clerk or servant, or being employed in the capacity of a clerk or servant, commits theft in respect of any property in the possession of his master or employer, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

In view of the confidence reposed by the employee in his clerk or servant, any offence committed by the employee is taking serious note of. Thus, the theft by a clerk of his master’s or employer’s property is punished severely.

  1. Theft after preparation made for causing death, hurt or restraint in order to the committing of the theft.

Whoever commits theft, having made preparation for causing death, or hurt, or restraint, or fear of death, or of hurt, or of re­straint, to any person, in order to the committing of such theft, or in order to the effecting of his escape after the committing of such theft, or in order to the retaining of property taken by such theft, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

The section deals with a case where the thief had made preparation for causing death or hurt or restraint to any person in order to ensure the commission of theft or effecting escape after the committing of such theft or to restrain the properties today.

EXTORTION

Section 383 defence extortion and section 384 provides punishment for extortion. The offence of extraction consists in – intentionally putting a person in fear of injury to himself or another dishonestly inducing the person, so put in fear to deliver to any person, property or valuable security.

Section 383 in The Indian Penal Code – 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 valuable security commits, “Extortion”.

 Essentials of Extortion

  1. Intentionally putting a person in fear of injury;
  2. Such injury may be for the person who is put under the fear or for any other persons in which the former person has interest.
  3. Such force should be shown with a view to take a thing for property or valuable security or sign or seal or a document.
  4. There must be a dishonest intention.

Thus if the above elements are present then it is an offence of extortion, dishonest intention is also an essential element of extortion. Dishonest intention is measured from the circumstances and facts of each case. Anything taken from a person at the point of the pistol is an e.g. of extortion.

 Illustration – ‘A’ threatens ‘Z’ that he will keep Z’s child in wrongful confinement unless Z will sign and deliver to A – a promissory note binding Z to pay money to ‘A’. Z signs and delivers the note. ‘A’ has committed the offence of extortion.

In Queen vs. Nathalirc Mirad, [(1844) 7 WR Cr 28] a threat to expose Bishop of his illegal relation with a woman was held to be extortion. In Romesh Chandra Arora vs. The State (AIR 1960 SC 154), the accused took a photograph of a naked boy and a girl by compelling them to take off their clothes and extorted money from them by threatening to publish the photograph. He was held guilty of extortion.

Section 384 in The Indian Penal Code – Punishment for extortion.

Whoever commits extortion shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

Section 385 in The Indian Penal Code -Putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extor­tion.

Whoever, in order to the committing of extortion, puts any person in fear, or attempts to put any person in fear, of any injury, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Section 386 in The Indian Penal Code – Extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt.

Whoever commits extortion by putting any person in fear of death or of grievous hurt o that person or to any other, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 387 in The Indian Penal Code – Putting person in fear of death or of grievous hurt, in order to commit extortion.

Whoever, in order to the committing of extortion, puts or attempts to put any person in fear of death or of grievous hurt to that person or to any other, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 388 in The Indian Penal Code – Extortion by threat of accusation of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life, etc.

Whoever commits extor­tion by putting any person in fear of an accusation against that person or any other, of having committed or attempted to commit any offence punishable with death, or with 1[imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years or of having attempted to induce any other person to commit such offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and, if the offence be one punishable under section 377 of this Code, may be punished with imprison­ment for life.

 

Difference between Theft and Extortion

Theft Extortion
In theft, property is taken away without the consent of the owner. In extortion, the consent of the owner is obtained but wrongfully.
Theft maybe only in respect of movable property. The property may be movable or immovable.
There is no element of force. Property is obtained by putting a person in fear of injury and thereby reducing him to part with his property.
There is no delivery of property by the owner. There is delivery of the property.

 

Author – Mayank Shekhar


References

  1. K.D. Gaur, Textbook on Indian Penal Code, Fifth Edition 2014
  2. Ratanlal and Dhirajlal, Indian Penal Code, Thirty-Fifth Edition
  3. SCC Online

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