Theft Vs. Extortion – Detailed Analysis

Theft- Section 378

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 the offence of theft.

  • Explanation 1 – A thing so long as it is attached to the earth, not being movable property, is not subject to theft but it becomes capable of being the subject of theft as soon as it is severed from the Earth.
  • Explanation 2 – A moving affected by the same at which affects the severe maybe a theft.
  • Explanation 3 – A person is said to move a thing by removing an obstacle which prevented it from moving or by separating it from any other thing as well as by actually moving it.
  • Explanation 4 – A person who by any means causes an animal to move is said to move that animal and to move everything which in consequence of the motion so caused is moved by that animal.
  • Explanation 5 – The consent mentioned in the definition above may be express or implied and may be given either by the person in possession, or by any person having for that purpose authority either express or implied.

Essential Ingredients

  • Dishonest intention to take property.
  • The property must be movable.
  • It should be taken out of the possession of another person.
  • Here only possession is required and ownership is not necessary.
  • It should be taken without the consent of that other person.
  • There must be some moving of the property in order to accomplish the taking of it.
  • If the act done is not animo-furandi (with the intention of stealing), it will not amounts to theft.

Illustration

  1.  ‘A’ cuts down a tree on B’s ground with the intention of dishonestly taking the tree out of B’s possession without his consent. Here as soon as ‘A’ has severed the tree in order to such taking, he has committed theft.
  2. A’ finds a ring belonging to B on a table in the house which B occupies. Here the ring is in B’s possession and if A dishonestly moves it, ‘A’ commits theft.
  3. A’ find a ring lying on the highroad not in possession of any person. A by taking it commit no theft, though he may commit criminal misappropriation of property.

Is stealing own property possible?

Let’s understand this with the help of an illustration:

“A’ owes money to B for repairing the watch and if B retains the watch lawfully as a security for the debt, and A takes the watch out of B’s possession with the intention of depriving B of the property as a security for his debt, he commits theft by taking such property dishonestly.

  • So in such a manner one can steal one’s own property also because at the time of stealing it he was neither in possession of the property nor it was in his custody as a lawful guardian of that property.

 

Pyare lal Bhargawa VS. State of Rajasthan 1963 S.C

The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that “to commit theft one need not to take movable property permanently out of the possession of another person with the intention not to return it to him. It would satisfy the definition, if he took any movable property out of the possession of another person, though he intended to return it later to him.”

Punishment for theft – Section 379

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

  • It means maximum punishment for theft is imprisonment of upto 3years
  • The court can release the offender also by charging fine from him only.
  • The offence here is Cognizable, non-bailable, compoundable and triable by any magistrate

Theft in dwelling house – Section 380

Whoever commits theft in any building, tent or vessel & such 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 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.

  • The offence under this section is Cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable, and triable by any magistrate.

Theft After preparation made for causing death, hurt or restraint in order to the committing of the theft – Section 382

Whoever commits theft, having made preparation for

  • Causing death,
  • Hurt,
  • or of Restraint,
  • Fear of death,
  • Fear of hurt,
  • Fear of restraint,

-To any person in order to the committing of such theft OR

-In order to the effecting of his escape after committing 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 pay fine for the offence.

Illustration

  •  A commits theft on property in B’s possession and while committing this theft he has a loaded pistol under his garment, having provided this pistol for the purpose of hurting B in case B should resist. A has committed the offence defined in this section.
  • The offence here is Cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable and triable by magistrate of first class.

 

Section 383 – Extortion

Whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that person or to any other person 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 is said to commit extortion.

Illustration

  1. A threatens to publish a defamatory libel concerning C unless C gives him money, he thus induces C to give him money. A has committed extortion.
  2. A by putting Z in fear of grievous hurt dishonestly induces Z to sign or affix his seal to a blank paper and deliver it to A. Z signs and delivers the paper to A. Here as the paper so signed & delivers may be converted into a valuable security. A has committed the offence of extortion.

Essential Ingredients :

  • Intentionally putting a person in fear of injury to himself or another person.
  • Dishonestly inducing the person so put in fear.
  • To deliver to any person any property or valuable security.

Case law:

Tanumal case 1944

The court held that “divine displeasure” threat is not Injury under this section.

( It means, if someone says that – deliver your this property or anything valuable to me otherwise God will punish you, is not injury according to this section.)

Punishment for Extortion – Section 384

  • Whoever commits extortion shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend  3 years or with fine or with both.
  • The offence committed under this section is cognizable, non bailable, non compoundable and triable by any magistrate.

 

Section 385 – Putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extortion

  • Whoever in committing the offence of extortion puts any person in fear or attempts to put any person in fear of any injury, shall be punished with imprisonment of any description for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both.
  • Here extortion is committed by attempts to put any person in fear of any injury.
  • The offence under this section is cognizable, bailable, non compoundable and triable by any magistrate.

Section 386 – 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 to that person or to any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to pay fine.

  • The offence under this section is cognizable, non bailable, non compoundable and triable by magistrate of the first class.

Case law:

Ram chandra VS. State of Uttarpradesh 1957 S.C

Here the accused wrote letters demanding ransom from the father of the boy whom they kidnapped. They put the father in fright of the boy being murdered and there was throughout the likelihood of the boy being murdered if the ransom money was not paid. The accused were held guilty under this section.

Section 387 – Putting a person in fear of death/grievous hurt in order to Commit Extortion

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

  • {Here person committing extortion attempts to put any person in fear of death or of grievous hurt to that person or to any other person}
  • The offence committed under this section is cognizable, non bailable, non compoundable and triable by magistrate of first class.

Distinction between Theft and Extortion

        Contents            Theft                 Extortion
  • Section
Theft is defined in section 378 of Indian penal CodeExtortion is defined in section 383 of Indian penal Code
  • Consent
In theft, the offender takes property without the consent of the owner.Extortion is committed by wrongfully obtaining of consent.
  • Nature of property
Only movable property may be the subject matter of theft.In Extortion, the property may be movable as well as immovable.
  • Obtaining of property
In theft, the property is taken by the offender.In Extortion, the property is delivered to the offender.
  • Force used
In theft, no force or threat is used, or fear is caused in taking the property.In Extortion, the property is obtained by intentionally putting a person in fear of Injury to that person or any other.
  • Punishment
Punishment for theft, imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine or with both. – Section 379

Theft in dwelling house – imprisonment which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine – Section 380

Imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine or With both – Section 384

Imprisonment here may extend to Ten years and shall also be liable to fine. – Section 386

 


 

Also Read :

Culpable Homicide and Murder

Intention,motive, etc in IPC

Mistake of fact and Mistake of law

Dowry Death -Meaning,Legal Provisions,Essentials & Case Laws

Can we cause death of a person in Private Defence?

 

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