Definition of Theft under s 378 IPC:
According to Section 378 IPC theft is defined as:
“Whoever, intending to take dishonestly any moveable property out of the possession of any person without that per¬son’s consent, moves that property in order to such taking, is said to commit theft.”
As mentioned above theft is when some person takes away property from the possession of the person in charge without his consent amounts to theft. Theft is a cognizable offense which means that it can be registered with the police and police can straight away start their investigation there is no need to it be sanctioned by the magistrate. Police can also arrest the suspect without a warrant in the case of theft, but still, they have to produce the arrested person within 24 hours in front of the magistrate to obtain appropriate directions.
For the crime under S 378 to be constituted there should be a quiet movement of the property from the possession of other there should not be a threat to life or use of force, else it will not fall under theft rather would amount to a robbery which is a more severe crime.
A thing which is attached to earth and is not the moveable property is not the subject of theft, but as soon as that is severed from the earth it becomes the subject of theft. Also if a person causes an animal to move or his any action is a consequence of it also amounts to the same.
Punishment under S 379 IPC for Theft
Punishment of theft is mentioned in section 379 IPC as stated in section “Whoever commits theft shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”So it is clearly inferred the punishment of theft is maximum up to 3 years there can also be fine for the same or both. If the theft is in dwelling houses where persons are residing etc. their punishment is severe as per.
Section 380 IPC – “Whoever commits theft in any building, tent or vessel, which building, tent or vessel is used as a human dwelling, or used for the custody of property, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
In the case of lurking House trespass i.e. where the accused has taken special steps to trespass into the property, here when the person has committed lurking house trespass and with the intention to commit theft, then the punishment hence awarded can be rather very severe.
House-trespass and Theft Distinguishing between the two
As per Section 457 IPC “Whoever commits lurking house-trespass by night, or house-breaking by night, in order to the committing of any offence punishable with imprisonment, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine; and, if the offence intended to be committed is theft, the term of the imprisonment may be extended to fourteen years.”
So, it is quite necessary to know these provisions also for victim and accused as there should not be injustice to any one as in respect of victim he should get ample justice by seeing the culprit punished; and in respect with the accused he should not be subjected to injustice and should not be punished for more than he has committed.In the case of theft, an FIR i.e. First Information Report is to be lodged with the police, in the police station of concerned jurisdiction. If the police refuse to register FIR subsequent complaint can be registered in the court and also an application can be written to the magistrate, to direct police to register FIR, and start the investigation.
In the ordinary course, the stolen property is returned after the commencement of the trial, but the Indian Law empowers the court to grant temporary possession to an adequate owner. The court under Section 451, Section 452, Section 456, Section 458, and Section 459 of CrPC has the full authority to the disposal of the property which is under trial and has successfully concluded to dispose of confiscating or by delivery to the person claiming it.Also if the trial is pending, Under Section 451 court has a special provision to transfer the possession of the property to a person who has the best claim on it, it is in the case where transferring the property is utmost necessary. Or the court can even sell the goods in the case of perishable goods and retain the sums to be given to the concluded owner of this goods.
If in any case custody of the goods even after the fair trial is not achieved, then also a suit can be filed for same.