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Theft is defined under section 378 of the Indian Penal Code as, “Whoever, intending to take dishonestly any moveable 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.” Hence, theft only occurs by a person with a dishonest intent, in case of moveable properties, without the owner’s consent, when such properties are moved and taken out of the owner’s possession. It is important to note that all these elements must be present throughout the commission of the act, for it to be considered theft.

For example, if A intends to dishonestly take B’s dog out of his house in order to compel B to repay an outstanding debt he owed A, but as he enters B’s house he notices it is on fire, at which point A displaces B’s dog in order to save its life and not with dishonest intent. Since in this case the dishonest intent only remains in the beginning but not during the commission of the act, it would not be theft. The punishment for theft is provided in section 379 of the Indian penal code, wherein, any person committing theft may be punished with fine or both fine and imprisonment for a period up to three years.



Section 383 of the Indian Penal Code defines Extortion as,

“Whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that person, or to any other, 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, commits ‘extortion’.”

According to this section, the elements of extortion are intention, fear of injury to any individual, a dishonest intent to induce someone to act in such a fear, for the delivery of anything which is valuable. The difference between theft and extortion lies in the facts of who moves the property, while in the case of theft, it is the offender who moves the property, in the latter case, it is the individual who acts under fear who delivers such property. Another difference is the presence of a threat of potential injury in the case of extortion. Another difference between the two offences lies in the nature of the property, while in theft, a moveable property is taken which may or may not be a valuable asset, while in the case of extortion, the nature of the property varies.


According to section 390 of the Indian Penal Code, robbery is classified as an aggravated form of theft or extortion, wherein, the person committing the theft or extortion puts another in the fear of instant death, or causing death or hurt to another person or wrongfully restraining them during the commission of the offence. In cases of robbery as aggravated extortion, it is pertinent to note that there is a factor of urgency involved in the risk to another person. The person in question is put in the risk of instant death or hurt. This factor of urgency makes extortion robbery.

Robbery attracts punishment in the form of rigorous imprisonment for upto 10 years, which may even extend to fourteen years in case the robbery occurs at a highway during wee hours  in accordance with section 392 of the Indian Penal Code

Misappropriation of property- Section 403

Criminal breach of trust- Sections 405/ 406

Cheating- Sections 415, 416 & 420


Case Laws
  1. K.N. Mehra v. State (AIR 1957 SC 369)
  2. Pyare Lal Bhargava v. State of Rajasthan AIR 1963 SC 1094
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