Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

With an intention to steal




The general meaning of the maxim is an ‘intention to steal.’ It is often used in the context of theft in reference to the intention to steal, or trespass with animus furandi. Thus, in order to constitute a crime of larceny, the thief must take the property animo furandi. When the taking of property is lawful, although it may afterward be converted animo furandi to the taker’s use, it is not larceny, but maybe conversion if retained unlawfully. In a general sense, the maxim refers to the dishonest intention to cause wrongful gain to oneself or wrongful loss to another.

The offense of theft consists of the dishonest taking of any moveable property out of the possession of another without his consent. Dishonest intention exists when the person so taking the property intends to cause wrongful gain to himself or wrongful loss to the other. This intention is known as animus furandi.


If ‘Y’ a taxi-driver accepts counterfeit money from ‘Z’ without knowing it was counterfeit, then ‘Y’ has no animus furandi. However, if ‘Y’ knows it is counterfeit and takes it as fare, he takes it with animus furandi, and not by mistake.

Case Laws

In Gurudayal vs. Indal, the Madhya Pradesh High Court observed that “Where there is an absence of animus furandi and the circumstances indicate that the taking of movable property is in the assertion of a bonafide claim of right, the act, though may amount to a vigil injury, does not fall within the mischief of the offense of theft.”

In Emperor vs. John Mciver, the Madras High Court held that “Where a man having the animus furandi obtains in pursuance thereof possession of goods by some trick, the owner not intending to part with his entire property but only the temporary possession of it, this is such a taking as to constitute a felony.”

In F.L. Berawalla And Anr. Vs. R.K. Jain And Ors., the Delhi High Court held that “the animus furandi, that is an intention to take from another for purposes of saving labor, is one of the important ingredients to be found against a person before the can be damnified.”

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