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Difference Between Theft And Extortion

Introduction

An offender commits a crime with mala fide intention against the state and private body. An offender is liable for the criminal act under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Indian Penal Code, 1860 was drafted by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay to fix the liability of criminals in society. The subject matter of this article is the difference between theft and extortion.

Theft

Theft is a crime against property under Section 378 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. It is a criminal act of dishonestly taking someone’s movable property out of their possession without his/her consent. It causes wrongful losses to the person whose property has been stolen but it does not necessarily mean wrongful gain to the person who commits theft. A person who commits theft distributes the stolen property among the people with bona fide intention for the welfare of the people and does not alter the criminal act into a generous act. It remains the criminal act of theft because it was an intentional act of dishonestly taking someone’s moveable property out of the possession of the property holder without his/her consent.

Essential Ingredients To Commit Theft

The property must be movable

Moveable property is subject to theft by taking the property out of the person’s possession without his/her consent. Immovable property shall not be subjected to theft until it becomes movable. An immovable property becomes movable by detaching it from the earth’s surface or by removing obstructions that prevent property to become a movable property.

The property must be in someone’s possession

The offense of theft is committed when the offender takes the movable property out of the possession of the property holder. Possession does not necessarily mean ownership of the property.

“The ownership of a property comes with the possession of the property but possession of a property does not always come with ownership of the property”

Ownership of a property involves the absolute rights and legitimate claims to an object. Ownership allows a person to resale the property to someone else at the discretion of the owner. According to law, the owner of a property receives protection and recognition. Possession of a property involves physical control of a person over the property. Possession of property changes while the owner of the property remains the same.

Dishonest intention

A person who commits theft must have a dishonest intention to cause wrongful losses to the property holder. The dishonest intention is mala fide intention which is one of the essential requirements to commit a crime.

The property must be taken without the consent of the property holder. The consent of the property holder must be willful and voluntary without any fear of threat.

The property was permanently taken from the person

The property which is subjected to theft must be taken permanently from the property holder. A person intended to return the property after some time shall not be subjected to theft.

Exception To Theft

The offense of theft shall not be committed when the person who takes the property of another person without consent in good faith believes that the property belongs to him/her.

Punishment For Committing Theft

Under Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 whoever commits the offense of theft shall be entitled to imprisonment for a term which may be extended to 3 years or fine, or both.

Illustration For The Offence Of Theft

1) Rahul came to Ajay’s house. Rahul liked Ajay’s watch and dishonestly with mala fide intention took the watch without his consent. Rahul committed the offense of theft.

2) Ram was walking on the road and came across a gold ring lying on the road. Ram looks around but did not find the owner of the gold ring. Ram takes the ring and sold it to his friend’s shop. Ram has not committed the offense of theft but is liable for criminal misappropriation.

3) Raju wants to steal a mango tree from his uncle’s garden, Raju went to his uncle’s garden and cuts down the tree. Raju loaded the tree in a truck and was about to depart for his home. Raju’s uncle caught him and reported the matter to the police for committing the offense of theft. Raju is liable for the offense of theft.

4) In good faith, Heena believes iPhone 11 pro belongs to Tina to be Heena’s property. Heena takes the iPhone out of Tina’s possession without her consent. Heena is not liable for theft as she honestly believes that the property belongs to her.

Extortion

Extortion is an offense against property. Extortion is defined under Section 383 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. It is an act of threatening someone through coercion to obtain money, property, or services from an individual or an institution. It is not necessary that money, property, or services shall be delivered to the person who commits extortion. The person who commits extortion may direct an individual or an institution to deliver money, property, or services to another person. Offender creates apprehension in the mind of a victim of instant death, hurt or wrongful restraint to receive valuable assets in the form of money, property, or services.

Essential Ingredients To Commit Extortion

Apprehension in the mind of an individual or an institution

The offense of extortion is distinguished from theft because in the offense of theft there is no apprehension or threat by coercion. An individual or institution delivers property to the offender to avoid injuries that resulted from coercion.

Property, money, or services must be delivered

The property, money, or services demanded through coercion or threat must be delivered to the offender to avoid harm or injuries that inflict upon him. The act of extortion inflicts physical as well as mental harm to an individual.

Dishonest Intention or mala fide intention

A person who commits extortion against an individual or an institution must have mala fide intention to cause damages and takes undue advantage of the situation through coercion.

The consent of the property holder obtains through coercion of instant death, injury, or wrongful restraint. The consent was obtained wrongfully by putting the victim in fear or threat.

Punishment For The Offence Of Extortion

Punishment for extortion is defined under Section 384 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Whoever commits extortion shall be punishable with imprisonment for the term which may be extended to 3 years or fine or both.

Illustration For The Offence Of Extortion

1) Sameer threaten Shruti to viral her photos and videos on the internet if Shruti denied delivering her expensive car to him. Shruti gave her car to Sameer to prevent injuries that were caused to her through Sameer’s actions. Sameer is liable for extortion.

2) Shilpa threatens Shivam to keep his child under wrongful confinement unless Shivam transfers his properties to Shilpa. Shivan transferred his properties to Shilpa. Shilpa is liable for extortion.

Difference Between Theft And Extortion

No.TheftExtortion
1The property took dishonestly without the consent of the property holder.Property has been taken dishonestly with the consent of the property holder which is obtained by coercion.
2There is no apprehension or threat or danger in the mind of the property holder.There is apprehension or threat or danger in the mind of the property holder.
3The offender takes the property or valuable assets.Property holder delivers property or valuable assets.
4There is an exception of good faith for the offense of theft.There is no exception of good faith for the offense of extortion.
5

 

 

Movable properties are subjected to theft.The victim can deliver movable or immovable properties in extortion to avoid the harm that inflicts upon him.

Conclusion

Extortion and theft are two different crimes under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. There are differences between extortion and theft that we discussed above. I hope that today’s article will help you to distinguish crimes against properties.

FAQs On Difference Between Theft And Extortion

Can a person be charged for stolen immovable property under section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860?

No, immovable properties are not subject to the offense of theft. A person can charge with trespass, criminal misappropriation, or criminal breach of trust for committing crimes against immovable properties.

Ram entered Shyam’s house to give him a surprise on his birthday. While Ram looked inside the room through the window of Shyam’s house, one of the neighbors spotted him and reported the matter to the police. Cop arrested Ram for committing theft. Is Ram liable for theft?

No, Ram is not liable for theft because he is in good faith and not intended to take Shyam’s property dishonestly without his consent.

Also Read – Difference Between Robbery And Dacoity

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Prashant Sharma

Prashant Sharma is a law student at Government Law College, Mumbai. He secured AIR 46 in MHCET 2021. He used to write content based on legal issues, social issues, economic aspects, current issues, maritime industries, technology and other related topics.

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