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UNDERSTANDING THE CRIME OF ROBBERY AND DACOITY UNDER INDIA PENAL CODE BY OLUWALEYE ADEDOYIN GRACE

INTRODUCTION

This article is written as an eye opener to what robbery and dacoity is under the India penal code. However, the following will also be discussed in this article:When theft amount to robbery When extortion amount to robberyPunishment for robberyDifferences between robbery and dacoityAlso, the legal provisions under India jurisdictionWhat is robbery?What is dacoity? Are they the same? Let’s find out!

WHAT IS ROBBERY?

Robbery can be defined according to the Black’s Law Dictionary as the felonious act of taking the personal property in the possession of another from his presence or immediate presence against his will accomplished using force and fear, with an intention of permanently depriving. However, robbery under the India Penal Code (IPC) can be seen from two perspectives pursuant to S. 390 of the IPC which are: when theft is robbery and when extortion is robbery thus in all robbery, there is either theft or extortion.

When theft is robbery

Theft can be seen as 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. Thus, theft amounts to robbery when the offender voluntarily causes or attempts to cause death, wrongful restraint or hurt or fear of instant death, instant wrongful restraint or instant hurt. See Shailu Mithun v. The state of Madhya Pradesh

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. Thus, extortion becomes robbery when a person commits robbery by putting another person in fear of instant death, wrongful restraint or hurt, when the offender induces the person under such fear to deliver the property at that very instant; then and there and when the offender is in the near presence of such a person put in fear at the time of extortion. See Ravi v. State of M.P. However, in Biram Lal vs State, it was held that in order to complete the act of extortion, the person who was put in fear must have been induced to deliver the property.

For examples if Mr B grabbed Mr T and fraudulently rob Mr T of his money without the consent of Mr T. in this scenario, Mr B has committed theft and therefore voluntarily caused wrongful restraint to Mr T. Mr B has therefore committed robbery. See Mubarakulla v. State of Karnataka. Also, using another scenario, if Mr W stops Mrs Y on the high way, showed Mrs Y a gun and demanding for his bag by putting her in fear of instant hurt. Mr W therefore has committed robbery. An instance where Mr T is in possession of the child of Mr G and vowed to kill the child if Mr G refuses to pay ransom; this is extortion, and punishable as such: but it is not robbery, unless Mr G is put in fear of the instant death of his child see Sudha Tripathi vs The State of Madhya Pradesh. Further, in the case of Sikander Kumar vs. State 2005 (2) RCR, two appellants pointed a knife at the complainant, took Rs. 50/- and drove away the car of the complainant. This was said to be because fear was introduced.

However, punishment for robbery can be seen under S. 392 of the IPC which states: ‘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 maybe extended to fourteen years.’

According to the section, the punishment for robbery include a term which may extend to ten years, fine, and if committed on a highway, the sentence can extend to fourteen years or more. See Om Prakash v. State where the accused committed a high-way robbery. They looted the passengers of the bus thus making the trial Court imposed punishment for life. Also, see Khimma Alias Khemraj v. State of Madhya Pradesh.S. 393 of the IPC went ahead to talk about the punishment for an attempted murder which states: ‘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.’According to the section, the punishment for an attempted murder robbery include a jail term which can extends to seven years and a fine.

WHAT IS DACOITY?

According to oxford dictionary, dacoity means the act of violent robbery committed by an armed gang. However, dacoity under the IPC can be define pursuant to S. 399 which states:‘’When five or more persons conjointly commit or attempt to commit a robbery, or where the whole number of persons conjointly committing or attempting to commit a robbery, and persons present and aiding such commission or attempt, amount to five or more, every person so committing, attempting or aiding, is said to commit ‘dacoity’.’’

Therefore, dacoity is committed when five or more persons jointly commit or make an attempt to commit robbery or any person or persons who aids the act or attempt. Before a crime could be seen as dacoity, the action must be committed conjointly. Note that the word ‘conjointly’ refers to united or concerted action of five or more persons participating in the act of committing the offence. In other words, five or more persons should be concerned in the commission of the offence and they should commit or attempt to commit robbery.

However, anyone who is voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery will be liable to imprisonment for life, or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine pursuant to S. 394 of the IPC. Also anyone that commits dacoity shall be liable to imprisonment for life, or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years pursuant to S. 395 of the same penal code. See Ram Baran Singh v. Emperor and ors (1920) ILR 42 ALL 474 where a large number of people under the influence of religious sentiments had attacked a group of Muslim people who were driving cattle along the public road. After this, the group had forcefully deprived the Muslim people of their cattle. This was held to be a case of dacoity and not robbery amounting to murder.

The constitution also went further to define dacoity with murder and also the punishment attached to the offence pursuant to S. 396 which states:‘If any one of five or more persons, who are conjointly committing dacoity, commits murder in so committing dacoity, every one of those persons shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, or rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.’Thus anyone that commits decoity with murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life or religious imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.

Also, an attempt to commit dacoity under the India penal code attracts it separate punishment by the virtue of S.399 of the IPC which states:‘whoever makes any preparation for committing dacoity, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Punishment for belonging to a gang of dacoit attracts being punished with imprisonment for life, or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine by the virtue of S. 400 of the IPC. Also, assemble for the purpose of dacoit shall be be punished with imprisonment for life, or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine pursuant to S.401 of the IPC

However, some provisions are made under the IPC with regards to dacoity and robbery which are seen bellow:

1. S. 397 Robbery or Dacoity, With Attempt to Cause Death or Grievous HurtIf, at the time of committing robbery or dacoity, the offender uses any deadly weapon, or causes grievous hurt to any person, or attempts to cause death or grievous hurt to any person, the imprisonment with which such offender shall be punished shall not be less than seven years.

2. S.398. Attempt to Commit Robbery or Dacoity When Armed with Deadly Weapon If, at the time of attempting to commit robbery or dacoity, the offender is armed with any deadly weapon, the imprisonment with which such offender shall be punished shall not be less than seven years.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DACOITY AND ROBBERY

Robbery has been defined under Section 390 of IPC, also dacoity, under Section 391 of IPC. However, the differences are seen bellow:

1. Essential Ingredients

Essential ingredients of the offence of Robbery are as follows:

Offender caused or attempted to cause to some persons:fear of death, or hurt or wrongful restraint,fear of instant death, or of instant hurt or of instant wrongful restrainOffender did such act either in order to the committing of the action or committing the crimeIn carrying away or attempting to carry away the property.Essential ingredients of the offence of Dacoity are as follows:The accused commit or attempt to commit robbery;Persons committing or attempting to commit robbery and persons present and aiding must not be less than five;All such persons should act conjointly.

2. Number of Persons

In Robbery the number of persons are less than five. It may be committed by a single person while in dacoity, the number of persons are five or more.

3. Seriousness

Robbery is less serious in nature while dacoity is more serious offence than robbery.

4. Position of Abettors

In Robbery, the abettors are liable independently. On the other hand, dacoity abettors who are present and aiding when the crime is committed are counted in the number.

5. Jurisdiction of Court

In case of robbery, the offence is cognizable, non-compoundable and triable by Magistrate of the first class while in case of dacoity the offence is cognizable, non-compoundable and triable by Court of Session.

6. Punishment

Whoever commits robbery shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years, nor more than ten years and shall also be liable to fine while whoever commits dacoity shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. See the case of Ashfaq vs State(2000) 3SCC 409 7. Position in HighwayIf robbery is committed on the highway, the imprisonment may be extended to fourteen years.The fact that the Dacoity is committed on the highway does not change the position or punishment.

CONCLUSION

Robbery as defined under Section 390 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 must either comprise of theft or extortion. However, before theft or extortion can be said to be committed, or robbery from theft, there must be an element of instant threat, instant injury or instant death. Dacoity on the other hand as define under section 399 of the India Penal Code is said to be committed when five or more persons are concerned in the commission of the offence and commit or in an attempt to commit robbery. Without fulfilling all the elements of both crimes, the offenses cannot be said to be committed.Hence, it is essential to understand the difference between robbery and dacoity as they are often thought to be similar by any layman whereas in the legal field they are not.

REFERENCES

1. “Extortion – The Relevant Provisions Under IPC | B&B Associates LLP” available at https://bnblegal.com/article/extortion-relevant-provisions-ipc/ accessed on 8th may, 2021

2. “Understanding theft, robbery, and extortion under the Indian Penal Code  – iPleaders” available at https://blog.ipleaders.in/understanding-theft-robbery-and-extortion-under-the-indian-penal-code/amp/ accessed on 8th may, 2021

3. “What is the difference between theft, robbery and dacoity? | Nyaaya” available at https://nyaaya.org/questions/theft/what-is-the-difference-between-theft-robbery-and-dacoity/ accessed on 8th may, 2021

4. Akshita Piplani ‘Robbery and its Punishment’ April 6th, 2019, available at https://lawtimesjournal.in/robbery-and-its-punishments/ accessed on 8th may, 2021

5. “Understanding theft, robbery, and extortion under the Indian Penal Code  – iPleaders” available at https://blog.ipleaders.in/understanding-theft-robbery-and-extortion-under-the-indian-penal-code/amp/ accessed on 8th may, 2021

Oluwaleye Adedoyin Grace writes from Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State.LLB part [email protected] or 08106289069

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