Theft and extortion under IPC 1860


One of the most important concept under criminal law is theft and this cover under offence against property (Chapter-17 u.s.378 to 382) in IPC. This concept is so vast in itself on a practical basis it becomes a challenge for the judiciary to interpret and also for parliament to design the offence of theft in a precise manner. It totally depends on nature of circumstances that is match with their ingredient that mentioned in the section.

Theft U/S-378 IPC

In Normal sense, Theft is an offence in which any person can having the intention of dishonestly to take another person movable property without their consent and moved that property in order to gain wrongful profit from it and occur wrongful loss to another person that having possession of that movable property.

Main Ingredient of theft

·       The first ingredient that mentioned in the above section is the intention of dishonestly by the accused.

·       The Second ingredient there must be a movable property is the subject of theft.

·       Third one is The accused have must be moving and taking away that property from one place to another.

·       Fourth one is The person against which the offence is committed having the possession of that property not ownership but only possession.

·       Fifth is The accused has not taking any consent by the person having possession of that property.

1.     Dishonestly

In IPC, The men’s rea of offence given with their definition to clearly indicates the guilty intention part and dishonestly also derives guilty intention of accused in the offence.

Section 24 of IPC, gives a definition of dishonestly which says any person having the intention of causing wrongful gain to one person and wrongful loss to another a person is said to dishonestly.

In the case of K.N.Mehra v. State of Rajasthan, Court explained the true meaning of dishonest intention with the purview of offence of theft and many other offence against the property;

A person can be said to have a dishonest intention if in taking the property it is his intention to cause gain by ‘unlawful mean’ of the property to which the person so losing is legally entitled.

2.     Movable Property

Movable property is any type of property which is taken away by a person from one place to another.

Section 22 of IPC, defines movable property as any property which is corporeal (visible and tangible) except land and thing attached to the earth or permanently fastened to anything which is attached to the earth.

In explanation 1 and 2 of the above section it is clearly described that anything which is attached to the earth is not movable property and not a subject of theft but if it is severed from the earth and intention to move by the accused then it is converted to movable property in the purview of theft.

Animals are subject to theft but only in case if any one have possession of the animal called domestic one.

Electricity is not a subject of theft and not movable property in case of Avatar Singh v. State of Punjab, S.C has held that Electricity is not the subject of theft (not movable property) and if anyone have a dishonest abstraction of electricity then it is the offence under section.39 of Electricity Act  1910, but not dealt under IPC Theft.

Water are not subject of theft if it running freely from a river ( held by Calcutta high court) , But if the water is running into the irrigation canals and any person can divert more water from the irrigation canals and govt. Pipes without the permission of the concerned authority then It will be the subject of theft (Held by Madras high court).

3.     Moving and taking

In order to commit theft, the accused must moving the property from one place to another with intention to taking that property and such taking is dishonest in nature.

The taking need not to be permanent in case of pyare lal Bhargava v. State of Rajasthan, Supreme court held that it is not necessary that taking is permanent in nature A temporary removal of an office file from the office of a civil engineer and making it available to a private person for a day or two also amount to the offence of theft.

In Explanation 3 and 4 of section 378 also discuss (3), that if a person can know that something is holding that property and if they can remove the obstacle that prevented it from moving, they can take that thing so it is also a moving and taking, And (4), that a person having move any animal with the intention to take the thing that attached with the animal is also moving and taking.

4.     Possession

The possession is the right of a person on some of their property and its not that same to ownership. It is a very wide term that changing circumstantially and impossible to discussed precisely by any authority of law. It plays an important role in both civil and criminal law and in a normal sense it simply means, possession is that if the person has physical control over a movable property Or they have the custody of that property.

Theft is committed when accused must take the property from possession of any other person.

5.     Consent

It is also the ingredient of theft, it is necessary that accused have taking such movable property without the consent of the person having possession of that property.

Now we discuss that consent; In explanation 5 of section 378 it is clearly mentioned that the consent described either in express or implied form and can be given either by person having possession of property or having authority to such property.

·       Illustration of Theft

1.     A, a poor man sees that B, a rich man purse was fallen out on road by their pocket and A, dishonestly taking the purse so here A has committed theft.

2.     A, a waiter in the bar have finds a precious stone on their bar table after party and here, A has knew that B, has reserved that table but A can take the stone without contacting them here A, commit theft.

Punishment of Theft

section.379 of IPC, gives punishment for theft i.e. Any person commit theft shall punished with, imprisonment for 3years or fine, or both.

The Nature of the offence is cognizable – Non bailable – Triable by any magistrate – Compoundable by the owner of the property stolen.



The extortion is also an offence against property that covers under IPC (Chapter:17 U/S-383 to 389), which deals with that if someone intentionally blackmailing or threatens another person by fear of any injury to that person or any other person and dishonestly induces that person with the motive that by this fear, that person deliver property or any other valuable security to the accused.

Extortion U/S-383 IPC

In normal sense, Extortion is an offence in which any person intentionally by its own act puts another person in fear of injury to that person or any other and they have a dishonest intention to take any valuable security and anything signed or sealed that convert to valuable security by their act of creating fearness hence the act of the accused is Extortion.

Main Ingredients of Extortion

·       The first ingredient is by the act of accused they intentionally put another person in fear of injury to that person or any other family member etc.

Under section 44 of IPC, Injury of four types;

1.physical (body)

2.Mental (Mind)

3.injury to reputation

4.injury to property

·       The second ingredient is there must be a dishonest intention present at the commission of offence and dishonest intention is of same as in case of theft ( wrongful gain to accused and wrongful loss to victim).

·       The third ingredient is the delivery of property or valuable security or anything which is signed, sealed and may be converted to valuable security by that fear.

·       Illustration

1.     A, a gangster threatens B, a public servant that if B not sign their property document A can hurt B’s daughter. If B sign and deliver the document then here, A committed the offence of extortion.

2.     A, a media editor threatens B, a politician that if B cannot gave money to A then, they can publish false defamatory libel in their newspaper and if B, delivers the money, here, A committed the offence of extortion.

 Case laws

1.     In the case of R.S Nayak v. A.R Antulya,  The respondent was the chief minister of Maharashtra And during his period he was formed seven trust and one of which was IGPP (Indira Gandhi Pratibha Prathishtan) the C.M demanded to sugar co-operatives that unless they all not made the contribution to IGPP, the govt. have pending their demand, S.C held that all ingredient of extortion is not fulfilled mere demand of donation is not threat.

2.     In the case of Lalit Vilasrao Thakre v. The state of Maharashtra, The Bombay high court held that delivery of valuable security is one of the main ingredient of extortion, mere taking sign or stamp on blank paper that cannot converted into the valuable security is not extortion.

 Punishment of Extortion

Under section 384 of IPC, given punishment of Extortion i.e. Any person commit extortion shall be punished with imprisonment for 3 years, or fine, or both.

The Nature of offence is Cognizable – Non bailable – Triable by any magistrate – Non-Compoundable.


At last we conclude that, the offence of theft and extortion is of same nature i.e. offence against property but, they have further many differences for example in theft the accused have mere dishonest intention to take property for some gain but in extortion, the accused give threat of fear of injury to that person or any other with the motive of inducing another person that it forcefully gives valuable security to it so both are different in their core.

These offences can be penalized in criminal law IPC to protect citizen right to property and their right to freedom.

Ideal Institute of Management and Technology affiliated to GGSIPU/ 2nd Year/ Law Student

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