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Robbery and Dacoity (IPC)

Updated: May 12

Robbery and Dacoity (IPC)
Robbery and Dacoity (IPC)


Sec. 390: Robbery

According to Sec. 390, ‘theft’ is ‘robbery’ if

in order to the committing of theft, or

in committing theft, or

in carrying away, or attempting to carry away property obtained by 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 hurt, or wrongful restraint. 


  • A holds Z down, and fraudulently takes Z’s money and jewels from Z’s clothes, without Z’s consent. Here A has committed theft, and in order to the committing of that theft, has voluntarily caused wrongful restraint to Z. A has therefore committed robbery

  • A person is said to do a thing fraudulently if he does that thing with intent to defraud but not otherwise (Sec. 25, IPC). 

Meaning and Explanation

In simple terms, when someone says "rob," they mean taking something from someone else forcefully. Robbery is like an intensified version of either theft or extortion, or sometimes both. It's important to note that robbery can only happen if there's theft or extortion involved.

Deciding whether a specific act of robbery was primarily theft or extortion can be tricky. Many robberies involve elements of both. So, you might have a situation where part of it looks like theft, and part of it looks like extortion. 

In legal terms, for an act to be considered robbery, it has to involve dishonesty. That means the person doing the robbing is not being honest or fair about taking what doesn't belong to them.

This distinction helps in understanding and categorising different types of criminal acts involving the taking of property by force or threat.


The core of the offence of robbery lies in the imminent threat of violence or fear. The phrase "for that end" signifies that death, harm, or wrongful restraint is inflicted "in order to commit theft, during theft, while carrying away stolen property, or attempting to do so."

This means that violence can occur before, during, or after the act of theft, but it must be linked to one of these four purposes.

If force is used for any other reason, it does not constitute robbery. For instance, if a thief, being chased by the owner, throws stones to escape capture rather than to take the stolen property, it remains a case of theft and not robbery.

In Mohinder Singh v State of Haryana (1996) 4 Crimes 11 (SC), a taxi driver was hired by a young man who later, along with his accomplice, threatened the driver with a revolver and demanded the return of advance payment.

The driver complied out of fear and was subsequently pushed out of the car. The court convicted the accused under Section 390, affirming that the use of force and intimidation to reclaim the advance payment constituted robbery.

In Tirlok Singh v Satya Deo (AIR 1979 SC 850), the complainant alleged that the accused forcibly took away a truck from his house under threat of arms, leading to accusations of robbery and dacoity.

However, the Supreme Court found the complainant's version implausible and held that the seizure of the truck was a legitimate action due to the complainant's default on payments. Since no harm was inflicted on the complainant's side, the Court concluded that no offence of robbery or dacoity was established.

When Extortion is Robbery

According to Sec. 390, ‘extortion’ is ‘robbery’-

when a person commits extortion by putting another person in fear of instant death/hurt/wrongful restraint to that person or to some other person, and

such a person by so putting another in fear, induces the latter to deliver up the thing extorted, and

the offender, at the time of committing the extortion, is in the presence of the person put in fear. 

Explanation.- The offender is said to be present if he is sufficiently near to put the other person in fear of instant death, of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint.


  • A meets Z and Z’s child on the high road. A takes the child, and threatens to filing it down a precipice, unless Z delivers his purse. Z, in consequence, delivers his purse. Here A has extorted the purse from Z, by causing Z to be in fear of instant hurt to the child who is there present. A has therefore committed robbery on Z. 

  • A meets Z on the high road, shows a pistol, and demands Z’s purse. Z surrenders his purse. Here A has extorted the purse from Z, 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.

For extortion to escalate into robbery, it's crucial that the perpetrator is physically present, sufficiently close to the victim, to instil fear of injury and be capable of carrying out the threat simultaneously.

For instance, if a police officer coerces a person into handing over ornaments by threatening immediate imprisonment for an extended period, it constitutes robbery.

The question arises whether the removal of ornaments from a deceased victim amounts to robbery.

This is because robbery involves theft by force, and theft entails taking away movable property from the possession of a living person. In such cases, the accused would be charged with criminal misappropriation rather than robbery.

However, it has been established that if a murder is committed with the intent of stealing jewels, the act of removing the jewels constitutes robbery.

The term "person" cannot be narrowly interpreted to exclude the deceased body of the individual killed in the same transaction in which the theft occurred.

Possession of Stolen Property: Possession of stolen goods is often deemed as strong evidence of involvement in theft or robbery.

Section 114(a) of the Indian Evidence Act allows courts to presume that a person in possession of stolen goods soon after a theft is either the thief or knowingly received the stolen goods unless they can provide a credible explanation for their possession.

In the case of Wasim Khan v State of U.P. (AIR 1985 SC 486), the Supreme Court clarified that when murder and robbery are integral parts of the same criminal act, unexplained possession of stolen property serves as presumptive evidence against an accused facing charges of theft or any related aggravated crime.

Punishment for Robbery

The punishment for robbery is imprisonment for 10 years along with a fine, as stated in Section 392 of the Indian Penal Code. Attempting to commit robbery incurs imprisonment for 7 years and a fine, according to Section 393.

If robbery occurs on a highway between sunset and sunrise, the punishment is enhanced to imprisonment for 14 years, as per Section 392.

Additionally, if the robbery results in causing hurt, the punishment is imprisonment for life or 10 years, along with a fine, under Section 394, which deals with voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery.

Lastly, belonging to a gang associated with habitually committing theft or robbery is punishable by imprisonment for 7 years and a fine under Section 401.

In the case of Sathi Prasad v State of U.P. (AIR 1973 SC 448), during a large gathering in Ayodhya, a bridge collapsed, resulting in drowning. A boatman recovered a wristwatch, a gold ring, and some money from a body.

However, the accused, a head constable, took these items from the boatman after beating and threatening him. The accused was convicted under Section 394 of the IPC for taking the articles after causing hurt to the boatman. Additionally, the accused was found guilty under Section 404 for criminal misappropriation.

DACOITY (Gang Robbery)

Sec. 391: Dacoity 

Dacoity represents an escalated form of robbery. Section 391 specifies that if five or more individuals jointly commit or attempt to commit a robbery, or are present and assist in such an act, each of them is deemed to have committed dacoity.

In essence, dacoity is akin to robbery but involves a larger group of perpetrators. The distinction lies solely in the number of offenders. The severity of the offence stems from the fear instilled by the presence of multiple offenders.

For dacoity to be established, the total number of individuals involved, whether as primary actors or aiding in the crime, must be five or more. 

Section 391 exemplifies constructive criminality, similar to Section 34 of the IPC. The term "conjointly" denotes the unified or coordinated action of the participants who share a common intention to commit robbery.

Even though the section does not explicitly mention "intentionally" aiding, the requirement of intention can be inferred, as dishonest intention is an essential element of dacoity, which is an aggravated form of both theft and extortion.

It's important to note that the offence of dacoity is not contingent upon the success of the crime; even if no property is stolen due to the unsuccessful attempt, it still constitutes dacoity. An attempted robbery constitutes a complete act of dacoity.

In Surya Moorthy v Govindaswamy (AIR 1989 SC 1410), the Supreme Court ruled that the imminent fear of death or harm is sufficient to invoke the provisions of Section 391.

In a case where several individuals attacked a house to commit dacoity but the occupants fled upon receiving prior information, their flight was considered evidence of the fear of harm or restraint, leading to the conviction of the accused for dacoity.

Similarly, in Pam Chand v Emperor (AIR 1933 All 114), a dacoity where no resistance was encountered and no violence was needed was still deemed a dacoity and not merely theft.

However, in Shyam Behari v State of U.P. (AIR 1957 SC 320), the accused attempted dacoity but failed due to the intervention of residents. As they fled without obtaining any booty, a subsequent incident occurred where one of the dacoits shot and killed a villager while crossing a ditch.

The Supreme Court held that since the dacoits fled without the stolen property, the dacoity had concluded before the murder occurred. Therefore, it was not a case of dacoity with murder under Section 396, and the accused was convicted under Section 302 for murder.


In Laliya v State of Rajasthan (AIR 1967 Raj 134), the High Court provided guidelines to determine whether murder is part of the transaction of dacoity:

(i) If the dacoits retreat without acquiring any plunder and the murder occurs during their retreat.

(ii) Considering the interval between the attempted dacoity and the murder.

(iii) Examining the distance between the locations where the attempted dacoity and the murder take place.

(iv) Assessing whether the dacoits abandon all stolen goods and the time elapsed between abandoning the loot and the occurrence of the murder. 

These guidelines help in analysing the sequence of events and the connection between the attempted dacoity and the subsequent murder to determine whether they are part of the same transaction.

Section 396 deals with "Dacoity with murder." It states that if any of the dacoits commits murder during the commission of dacoity, all individuals involved are liable for murder.

In Emperor v Lashkar (1921) 2 Lah. 275, a gang of dacoits shot and killed a villager while fleeing after looting a house. The court held that the murder occurred during the commission of dacoity, thus making all offenders liable for murder.

Punishment for Dacoity 

The punishment for dacoity is imprisonment for life or imprisonment for 10 years along with a fine (Sec. 395). In cases of dacoity with murder, the punishment is death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for 10 years with a fine (Sec. 396).

If the offender uses any deadly weapon during robbery or dacoity, or causes or attempts to cause death or grievous hurt, they are liable for imprisonment for 7 years (Sec. 397).

Similarly, attempting to commit robbery or dacoity while armed with a deadly weapon, even if not used, incurs the same punishment (Sec. 398).

It's noteworthy that 'dacoity' is unique among offences as it is punishable at all stages of the crime.

Apart from belonging to a 'gang' of dacoits (Sec. 400), dacoity is punishable at various stages: Assembling (Sec. 402), Preparation (Sec. 399), Attempt (Sec. 395), and actual commission (Sec. 395). Each stage incurs punishment.

Distinction between Theft, Extortion, Robbery and Dacoity

Theft, robbery, and dacoity share similarities in that they involve taking property without the owner's consent. However, theft is confined to movable property, whereas extortion, robbery, or dacoity can extend to immovable property as well.

In theft, force is not used by the perpetrator, whereas in robbery or dacoity, force may or may not be employed, depending on whether it is a form of theft or extortion.

It's important to note that dacoity encompasses robbery, and since robbery is merely an escalated form of theft or extortion, dacoity inherently includes theft and extortion as well.

Every instance of dacoity fundamentally constitutes a case of robbery, but the reverse is not necessarily true.

Theft, robbery, and extortion can be carried out by a single individual, while dacoity requires a minimum of five individuals acting in concert. In extortion, consent is wrongfully obtained, whereas in robbery, property is taken either without consent or by obtaining consent wrongfully.

In dacoity, there is either no consent or consent is acquired unlawfully. The element of fear is evident in extortion, dacoity, and robbery, but absent in theft.


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