Theft and Robbery

Theft and Robbery

Author : Ayush Kumar Jain, Presidency University, Bangalore.

Theft

Theft refers to the act of dishonestly removing something from a person’s possession without the person’s consent or knowledge. In common parlance we use the term stealing. However in order to invite the application of the term theft there are certain parameters which we need to satisfy.Theft is an offence in which “immovable property of a person is taken away without his consent. such property “must be taken away dishonesty. Thus in theft there would be a “immovable property. It should be taken dishonestly and without the consent of the owner. 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.

The following ingredients under section 378 covers theft. 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.

Ingredients of theft:-

Theft is committed in respect of Movable Property

The idea of unmovable property which is permanently attached to the ground or immovable attached to the ground. The contrast to it is movable property which is not permanently attached to the ground. The examples of unmovable property are land and buildings. For theft, it can be anything right from your right shoe to money and everything in between. Whenever an object s permanently attached to the ground is severed, it becomes, movable property.

The article must be removed with ‘dishonest’ intention

The term ‘dishonest’ is also defined in the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The Indian Penal Code reduces dishonesty to “whoever does anything with the intention of causing wrongful gain to one person or wrongful loss to another person, is said to do that thing dishonestly”.

Dishonestly includes the intention to cause wrongful gain or wrongful loss. Intention means that the person must have acted deliberately, with the idea of wrongfully taking a good away from someone or wrongfully providing benefit to himself or some other person.

A word of caution here however, is mistake of law is not a defense, only mistake of fact is a defence.

For example

Shaakal steals from Anna and passes off the stolen proceeds to magambo. In this case the wrongful gain is not caused by shakaal himself, but is for someone else, however shakaal will still have committed theft, even if he himself is not taking benefit of the theft.

Theft must remove the good from the possession of the person not only the owner.

At a very basic level Owner is a person who has the title to the good, while theft can be committed against the owner and also against the person who is enjoying the possession of the good.

For example

Jai lends his watch to veeru, sambha removes the watch from the possession of veeru, sambha has committed theft against veru, because as per the definition one needs to remove the good or article from the possession of the other person and not necessarily the owner.

Robbery

Robbery in common language means to deprive a person of his or her property. The chief distinguishing element in robbery, theft and extortion is the presence of imminent fear of violence.

In all robbery, there is either theft or extortion. The essence of the offence of robbery is that the offender for committing theft or for carrying away or attempting to carry away the looted property, voluntarily causes or attempts to cause death or hurt or wrongful restraint.

Section 390 in the Indian Penal Code – 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.

Explanation.—The offender is said to be present if he is suffi­ciently near to put the other person in fear of instant death, of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint.

Illustrations

(a) A holds Z down and fraudulently takes Z’s money and jewels from Z’s clothes without Z’s consent. Here A has committed theft, and in order to the committing of that theft, has voluntarily caused wrongful restraint to Z. A has therefore committed rob­bery.

(b) A meets Z on the high roads, shows a pistol, and demands Z’s purse. Z in consequence, surrenders his purse. Here A has extort­ed the purse from Z by putting him in fear of instant hurt, and being at the time of committing the extortion in his presence. A has therefore committed robbery.

Section 392 in The Indian Penal Code – Punishment for robbery.

Whoever commits robbery shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and, if the robbery be committed on the highway between sunset and sunrise, the imprisonment may be extended to fourteen years.

Section 393 in The Indian Penal Code – Attempt to commit robbery.

Whoever attempts to commit robbery shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 394 in The Indian Penal Code – Voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery.

If any person, in committing or in attempting to commit robbery, volun­tarily causes hurt, such person, and any other person jointly concerned in committing or attempting to commit such robbery, shall be punished with 1[imprisonment for life], or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

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