Stridhana and Breach of Trust
Before studying the Stridhana, let us understand what is meant by Criminal Breach of Trust in detail.
Criminal Breach of Trust
Most importantly, the offence of criminal breach of trust as explained in the section is somewhat similar to the misdeed “Embezzlement in the English Law.” The gist of criminal breach of trust requires “unfaithful misappropriation” and “conversion of property”. However here as the title suggest “entrustment or property” is a necceary requirement for this crime or offence to take place.
- 405 Criminal Breach of Trust
The offence of criminal breach of trust is defined under Section 405 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It states that if someone who is entrusted with the possession of the property in any mode or with any sort of ascendency over it unfaithfully embezzles or disposes of or transforms the possession for his own use that affects any direction of law and cause suffering to another person as well commits criminal breach of trust.
Section 405 of the India Penal Code requires the following elements:
- A person entrusted or charged with the dominion over the property.
- The person invested with the authority over the property must: transforms the possession for his own use or unlawfully discard the property as well as violating:-
(a) Any legislation administering the release of trust
(b) Any lawful contract regulating the release of trust.
Entrusting a Property
The Indian Penal Code does not deliver any legal explanation of the term ‘entrusting’. However, in layman’s language, the term signifies the transfer of ownership of a property to another person. Moreover, the entrustment of the property in concern requires a fiduciary relationship between the parties to the contract. Simply put, the person transferring the ownership of property should transfer it for a specific purpose and objective.
Dishonestly violating the Trust
The term ‘dishonestly’ signifies that the gist of the offence of breach of trust necessitates mala fide intentions of the person to whom the property belongs.
In addition to dishonest intention, it must also include misuse or conversion of the property concern.
An interesting example of this breach occurs when a person “A” employer has to pay pension or provident fund the employees. The amount he has to pay is deemed to be property entrusted to him under this provision. Therefore, if he defaults in paying pension or provident fund, he is guilty under Section 405.
Dominion over the Property
The dominion over the property ensures the absolute transfer of ownership as well as its legitimate possession by the new owner. But, the government has the sole authority to confiscate the property with or without permission
(a) Ram being executor to the will of a deceased person dishonestly disobeys the law which directs him to divide the effects according to the will, and appropriate them to his own use. He has committed a criminal breach of trust.
(b) Shyam is a warehouse-keeper. Bunty going on a journey, entrusts his furniture to Shyam, under a contract that it shall be returned on payment of a stipulated sum for warehouse room. Shyam dishonestly sells the goods of Bunty and has committed a criminal breach of trust.
- State of Gujarat v. Jaswantlal Nathalal
“The government allotted/sold certain bags of cement to the accused contractor only on the condition that it will be used for specific construction work. However, a portion of the cement was diverted to a different subject and the contractor did not use the cement for the authorized purpose alone. The Supreme Court held that the expression ‘entrustment’ carries with it the implication that trusts factor applies in it. And hence there was Criminal Breach of Trust.”
The accused responsible for the offence of criminal breach of trust is punished under section 406 of the IPC.The punishment includes imprisonment for up to three years or a fine or sometimes both in exceptional cases.
RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY
Section 411- Dishonestly receiving Stolen Property
A person will be convicted for accepting the stolen property if the following conditions are fulfilled:
- The property concerned must be stolen.
- The accused must have dishonestly received it.
- The accused was aware of the fact that the property was stolen.
All the material which we have studied up to now talks about Breach of Trust, and now we will link the Provision of IPC dealing with the Stridhana.
LEGAL STATUS OF STRIDHANA
It should be noted that dowry and Stridhana are two distinct terms. Stridhana is legal whereas on the contrary, dowry is an illegal act under the law.
Section 405 and 406 of the IPC governs the laws under Stridhana that are strict and the groom’s side might face stringent and uncompromising actions if they refuse to return wealth. The court has made attempts to make allusions of case-laws with respect to bring forward the Stridhana laws.
- Bhai Sher Jang Singh v. Smt. Virinder Kaur, while hearing the case, “Punjab & Haryana High Court had ruled that “the groom’s side is bound to return back all the items including property, ornaments, money and other belongings offered by the bride’s side at the time of marriage if claimed. In the case of denial, the groom’s family is tending to get strict punishment. The court found that Bhai Sher Jang Singh and his family have committed an offense under Section 406 of IPC by committing criminal breach of trust of the ornaments and other articles owned by Virinder Kaur which was her Stridhana and was entrusted to her husband for safe custody and which he has dishonestly misappropriated.”
Application u/s. 405 of IPC in Stridhana
Section 405 of IPC in Stridhana deals with proceedings includings misappropriation. The misdeed under section 405 will be accepted as a crime only if it satisfies necessary elements. It must be noted that in this section even an interim or slight misappropriation will be sufficient to summon conviction. Moreover, if the accused intended to replenish the possessions in the future it will still qualify as a criminal breach of trust.
Application u/s. 498A of IPC is Invalidation
Section 498A of IPC prevents women from physical and mental harassment. It says that if the husband or known of the husband causes grave cruelty to the women who invoked this article shall be punished with imprisonment of up to three years or fine or both in some cases. However, if the invocation does not fulfill the below mentioned conditions then it will be considered as misuse of law.
The necessary conditions are:
- Deliberate conduct which causes women to self-harm or commit suicide.
- Harassment of women for unlawful demand of property and assets.
Application u/s. 406 of IPC in Stridhana
Under Section 498A and Section 406, the husband and family is charged with having an intention while committing the crime. Section 406 is generally invoked to retrieve Stridhana and is utilized for protecting women facing physical or mental molestation. In addition to this, it should be recalled that there are various other provisions for recovering Stridhana and they all are uniformly influential.
Hence, now we can Conclude that Stridhana becomes a necessity of women. Women has a right over her Stridhana completely and she can use it in which ever way she likes to. Stridhana as the name suggests is the wealth and the belongings of the women which she brought from her parents before, during or after marriage. Stridhana is very often misinterpreted as dowry. Even after they have entirely different definition form each other. Stridhana is a volunteering gift given by the members of bridal side to the bride so that she can establish her own property. Therefore, there are strict Stridhana laws and the groom side may face a strict action under sec 405 and 406 of Indian Penal Code if they deny returning the wealth to the bride when she claims.
Author: Shubham Sharma,
Delhi Metropolitan Education, 2nd Year, IP University