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Difference Between Robbery And Dacoity

Introduction

Robbery and dacoity are classified as ‘offences against property’ under chapter XVII of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.  Although the terms ‘robbery’ and ‘dacoity’ are often used interchangeably on account of their inter-relatedness, there are considerable points of distinction between the two.  These have been made crystal clear in this article.

Robbery

Section 390 of the IPC defines Robbery as under:

In all robbery there is either theft or extortion.

When theft is robbery

Theft is “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.

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.”

Robbery can be described as a crime wherein the perpetrator intentionally causes or attempts to murder, cause injury, or wrongfully restrain the victim, while committing theft or carrying away or attempting to carry away the stolen property. Likewise, when, while committing extortion, a person is put into fear of ‘instant’ death, hurt, or wrongful restraint and there is an ‘inducement’ to deliver the property, it is also considered to be robbery.  As a whole, robbery is an aggravated form of either theft or of extortion. The existence of ‘threat’ or ‘fear’ of violence is crucial to the crime of robbery.

Essentials to constitute robbery

For theft to be robbery:

  1. There must have been a commission of theft defined under Section 378; and
  2. While commissioning of theft, or while carrying away or attempting to carry away stolen goods, or for these purposes, the perpetrator must have caused or attempted to cause fear of death, hurt or wrongful restraint. or fear of instant death or instant hurt or instant wrongful restraint.

For extortion to be robbery:

  1. There must have been a commission of extortion as defined under Section 383;
  2. During the commission of extortion, the perpetrator must have been in presence of the person and put the person in fear of instant hurt or instant wrongful restraint, or instant death; and
  3. There must be an inducement to deliver the extorted goods.

Allied provisions to the crime of robbery

Section 394 deals with the offense of ‘voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery’. It provides for punishment of life imprisonment or up to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment as well as fine.

Section 397 is common to dacoity and robbery. It provides for 7 years of punishment for use of deadly weapon for creating fear in the mind of the victim, or for causing grievous hurt, or for attempting to cause death or grievous hurt.

Section 401 punishes a person for belonging to a gang of robbers (associated for the purpose of habitually committing robbery). It prescribes punishment up to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment as well as fine.

Dacoity

Section 391 of the IPC defines Dacoity as under:

“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”.”

Essentials to constitute Dacoity

  1. There must be commission or attempt to commit a robbery;
  2. Persons committing or attempting to commit robbery and persons present and aiding must not be less than five; and
  3. All such accused persons must act conjointly, i.e., they must act in concert for furtherance of the commission of dacoity.

Allied provisions to the crime of dacoity

Section 396 deals with an aggravated form of dacoity, i.e., ‘dacoity with murder’. Even if one of the five or more accused commits murder, while committing dacoity, all accused can be prescribed punishment of death, life imprisonment, or rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years as well as fine.

Section 397 is common to dacoity and robbery. It provides for 7 years of punishment for use of deadly weapon for creating fear in the mind of the victim, or for causing grievous hurt, or for attempting to cause death or grievous hurt.

Section 400 punishes a person for belonging to a gang of dacoits (associated for the purpose of habitually committing dacoity). It prescribes punishment for it with life imprisonment, or up to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment as well as fine.

Difference Between Robbery and Dacoity

Basis of DifferentiationRobberyDacoity
MeaningRobbery is an aggravated form of theft or extortion, wherein there is fear of death, (grievous) hurt, or wrongful restraint.Dacoity is an advanced form of robbery wherein at least 5 perpetrators are involved conjointly in its commission.
IllustrationX meets Y on the high roads, shows a pistol, and demands Y’s purse. Y in consequence, surrenders his purse. Here X has extorted the purse from Y by putting him in fear of instant hurt, and being at the time of committing the extortion in his presence. A has therefore committed robbery.[1]X boards a bus at night. He finds that A, B, C, D, and E are standing, armed with weapons. They induce X to deliver all his valuables, falling which, they warn him of breaking his bones. X, fearing grievous hurt, instantly delivers his valuables. A, B, C, D and E have conjointly committed dacoity.
Punishment Section 392 of the IPC prescribes the punishment for robbery, which is upto 10 years of rigorous imprisonment as well as fine. Further, upto 14 years of imprisonment has been specified if robbery is ‘committed on the highway between sunset and sunrise’.Section 395 of the IPC prescribes the Punishment for dacoity, which is life imprisonment, or upto 10 years of rigorous imprisonment as well as fine.

 

 

Liability for Intention/ Preparation/ Attempt/ CommissionRobbery is only punishable in the last two stages of crime, viz., attempt and accomplishment.

 

i) Attempt to commit robbery is punishable by a separate Section of IPC that is Section 395. It is punishable with up to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment as well as fine. An attempt to commit robbery when armed with deadly weapons is punishable under Section 398 with a minimum of  7 years of imprisonment.

ii) Commission of robbery is punishable under Section 392.

Dacoity is the only offense in IPC, which is punishable at all stages of crime.[2]

 

i) Intention to commit dacoity is punishable under Section 402 of IPC.  Under Section 402, intention is inferred from the conduct of the person, viz., ‘assembling for the purpose of committing dacoity’. It is punishable with up to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment as well as fine.

ii) Preparation to commit dacoity is punishable under Section 399 of IPC. It prescribes a punishment of up to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment as well as fine.

iii) Punishment for an attempt to commit dacoity is contained in Sections 395, and also 398.

iv) Commission of dacoity is punishable under section 395.

Nature of the OffenseIt is a Cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable offense and is triable by Magistrate of the first class.It is a Cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable offense and is triable by the Court of Session.
Number of PerpetratorsThe minimum number of perpetrator(s) is one.There must be five or more perpetrators. It must be noted that aiders and abettors are also included while counting the number of perpetrators.
GravityRobbery is relatively less grave than dacoity.Dacoity is a graver and more heinous offense than robbery and is an aggravated form of robbery. This is because dacoity comprises robbery, and because robbery is an extreme form of theft or extortion, dacoity also comprises theft and extortion.

Landmark Cases on Difference Between Robbery And Dacoity

In Ram Shanker Singh v State of Uttar Pradesh[3], there were six persons accused of dacoity. Upon trial, it was found that three of the six defendants were not guilty. Since three of them were acquitted, it was held that the remaining three defendants could only be charged with robbery under Section 392 and not with dacoity under Section 395.

Similar to the previous case, in Om Prakash v State of Rajasthan[4], the Supreme Court held that if a case of dacoity is brought against five people and two of them are acquitted, the remaining three cannot be held guilty of dacoity under Section 395. Accordingly, the defendants, in this case, were convicted under Section 392.

In Harish Chandra v State of Uttar Pradesh[5], the victim had boarded a train and when the train arrived at its destination, several passengers began exiting the compartment, which created a rush. The accused took advantage of this rush and forcibly removed the victim’s wristwatch, taking it out of his possession. When the victim raised an alarm,  the co-accused hit him. The accused tried escaping from the train, but were eventually caught by the policemen after a search was made, upon a complaint by the victim. Both the accused were charged with robbery. The defense maintained that because the victim was hit after the watch was taken, the injury could not be deemed to have been caused in order to conduct the theft, and so the offence under Section 390 could not have been committed. The Supreme Court, rejecting the defence argument, held that the co-accused hit the victim to facilitate the accused to carry away the watch. Under the circumstances, it would clearly come under Section 390, because the Section states that theft is robbery if an injury is caused while carrying away or attempting to carry away the property obtained by theft. As a result, the accused was held liable for the offense of robbery.

In Tirlok Singh v Satya Deo[6], the complainant had bought a truck from Finance Corporation on a hire-purchase basis. The complainant paid the first two monthly installments but missed the third installment payment. According to the complainant, the accused came to his residence in a threatening way and forcibly removed his truck, despite his wife’s protests, and were therefore accused of committing robbery. The complainant’s narrative was found to be untrustworthy by the Supreme Court. The seizure of the vehicle, it was found, was a legitimate action, authorized to be performed by the accused in response to the complainant’s failure to pay the third installment. It was held by the court that no offense of robbery or dacoity was made out.

The case of Ganesan v. State Rep. By Station House Officer[7] is a recent landmark judgment wherein some noteworthy points were discussed pertaining to the offense of dacoity. The facts of the case are that five people were charged of committing dacoity. One of the five accused, who was sitting in a car, had attacked a witness with an iron rod and robbed him of Rs. 60,000/- and 16 gm jewellery.

Only three of the five accused could be proceeded against in the court as the rest two accused were absconding. After hearing the oral and documentary evidence, the learned trial court held the accused guilty under Section 397 of IPC and sentenced him to 7 years imprisonment.

The defense counsel filed an appeal against the High Court’s judgment, raising several contentions. One contention was that one of the (five) accused was only seated in the car and did not engage in the crime, and thus, Section 397, IPC did not apply to him. Similarly, another contention was that one of the (five) accused could not be convicted under Section 397, IPC since he had not used any ‘deadly weapon’. In response to it, the Hon’ble Supreme Court stated that an accused who had not used a ‘deadly weapon’ could not be convicted under Section 397 of the Indian Penal Code.

Another issue raised was that since there were less than five persons participating in the offense, the provisions of Section 397, IPC would not apply to them.  The court, rejecting the accused’s argument, stated that the commission of a robbery by five or more persons comes under the purview of Section 391 of IPC, and that just because some of the accused are absconding does not mean that Section 397 of IPC does not apply to the remaining accused.  The court further stated that the acquittal of one of the defendants would not result in the acquittal of the other defendants in the same case for the same crime (of dacoity). Moreover,  it was held that even if Section 397 of IPC and Section 395 of IPC deal with similar subject-matter, non-conviction of the accused under Section 397 of IPC will not result in subsequent non-conviction under Section 395 of IPC if the prosecution has proven the charge.[8]

Conclusion

To conclude, every dacoity is robbery, but every robbery is not dacoity. The number of perpetrators involved and their common intention to commit robbery are the parameters that distinguish between robbery and dacoity. The minimum number of perpetrators in dacoity is five, whereas that in case of robbery is one. Furthermore, only when there are five or more people involved and they are proven to be committing the crime ‘conjointly’ does robbery turn into dacoity. If there are five or more persons accused (of dacoity) and they do not all perform the act conjointly, it is considered robbery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Difference between Robbery and Dacoity

When does robbery become dacoity?

When five or more persons conjointly commit robbery, it becomes dacoity.

Which offense is punishable at all four stages of crime?

Dacoity is punishable at all four stages of crime, viz., intention, preparation, attempt and commission.

[1] Illustration (b) to section 390.

[2] See Sambar Malik v. Gopala Malik, 1995 CriLJ 3064.

[3] AIR 1956 SC 441.

[4] AIR 1998 SC 1220.

[5] AIR 1976 SC 1430.

[6] AIR 1979 SC 850.

[7] 2021 (4) RCR (CRIMINAL) 710.

[8] Ganesan Vs State : SC Says Use Of Deadly Weapon Essential To Be Convicted Under Section 397 IPC, available at: https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/judiciary/ganesan-vs-state-sc-says-use-of-deadly-weapon-essential-to-be-convicted-under-section-397-ipc-5607.asp (last visited on March 18, 2022).

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Tazeen Ahmed

Tazeen Ahmed is a first-year law student at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, inquisitive about Constitutional Law, Family Law, Corporate Law, Human Rights Law, and Criminal Law. She is a proficient writer, skilled in conducting legal research and organizing her articulations on social-legal and political issues. She holds a sound academic record, having scored 93.80 % in AISSE and 95% in both Political Science and English Language in AISSCE. She has held prestigious positions in the Student Council and been adjudged the ‘Student of the Year 2016, Gurgaon’ by UnivQuest. She has formerly served as a legal intern at ubadvocate, where her performance was marked “outstanding” by the team and is an Editor at The Wall of Justice blog. She is also an avid reader, a poet, and a political enthusiast. Above all, she is a dedicated and dynamic soul, ever-prepared to undertake challenging roles in the legal battlefield, and treats constructive criticisms as stepping stones towards progress.

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