Theft and Extortion – their meaning and differences
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.
DEFINITION OF THEFT U/S 378 OF IPC
“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.”
INGREDIENTS OF DEFINITION
1. There must be a dishonest intention of a person to take the property.
2. Removal of movable property.
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.
A. Dishonest Intention:- It is also called as malafide intention which can be representation 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 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.
B. 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.
C. 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.
D. 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.
PUNISHMENT FOR THE OFFENCE OF THEFT
The punishment for committing theft in Indian Penal Code under section 379 for offence of theft is an imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine or both.
According to Section 383 of IPC,” 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. There must be a show of force or threat.
2. Such force or threat should be in the form of fear of injury.
3. 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.
4. Such force should be shown with a view to take a thing for property or valuable security or sign or seal or a document.
5. There must be 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 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 Romesh Chandra Arora v. 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.
PUNISHMENT FOR THE OFFENCE OF EXTORTION
A has committed the offence of extortion. Punishment for EXTORTION under section 384 of IPC,” 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.