Difference between revisions of "Punishment for belonging to Gang of Thieves"

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Revision as of 15:49, 1 July 2020

Introduction :

Chapter-XVII of the Indian penal code, 1860 deals with the offence against the property. The basic element common to the offence under this chapter is dishonesty as the intention of causing wrongful game to one person or wrongful loss to other. Robbery in common language means to deprive a person of his or her property. In all robbery there is either theft or extortion. The essence of the offence of robbery is that the offender , for committing theft or for carrying away or attempting to carry away the looted property, voluntarily causes or attempts to cause death, or hurt or wrongful restraint. Section 401 provides for the punishment of persons who belong to a Gang of thieves or robbers.

Section 401.[1] Punishment for belonging to Gang – Whoever, at any time after the passing of this act, shall belong to any wandering or other Gang of persons associated for the purpose of habitually committing theft or robbery, and not being a gang of thugs or decoits, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

This section deals with the providing punishment to the person who belongs to gang of theft or robbery. The gang must be any wandering or other gang of persons who associate themselves for the purpose of habitually committing theft or robbery. The substance of the Section is the agreement habitually to commit theft not the actual commission or admitted commission of theft or roberry. It is not necessary that every person should have taken part in any theft or robbery. The provisions of Section 401 I.P.C., word habitual has been used with reference to a gang who habitually deals in theft or roberry.

Essential Elements :

To invoke Section 400 of the Indian Penal Code, the following elements are necessary to provide punishment to the person under this section.

  • There was a Gang of persons
  • The accused joined that gang.
  • Persons were associated for the purpose of committing theft or robbery.

Existence of gang of persons - It is necessary under this section that there must be an existence of gang of thieves and robbers. Gang consists of an organised group of persons to commit or attempt theft and robbery. There must be a notion of continuity extending over a period of time. The group must act by way of habit in committing theft or robbery. Accordingly, it is not necessary, that each member of the gang was in the habit of committing theft or any particular act of theft or robbery.

Accused belongs to that gang - To attract Section 401 I.P.C. the accused must belong to such a gang which is associated for the purpose of habitually committing theft or robbery. The section specifically states that such a gang is not a gang of thugs or dacoits. Belongings to a gang of persons associated for the purpose of habitually committing theft is punishable under Section 401 I.P.C. The term belong used in Section 401 I.P.C. implies something more than the idea of casual association, which involves the notion of continuity.

Association for theft or robbery – The use of words by the legislature " or other gang of persons associated for the purpose of habitually committing theft or robbery" makes it clear that the gang with which the accused was associated was habitually involved in commission of theft or robbery. Once it is established that the gang was formed for the purpose of habitually committing robbery or theft, all the person joining the gang fell under section 401 IPC. It is not necessary that every person should have taken part in any theft robbery. A person habitually receiving stolen property is punishable under section 413 and not under this section as he cannot be said to ‘belong’ to a gang.


Classification of Offence :

The offences committed under section 401 of I.P.C. is classified as follows :

  • Punishment : Rigorous Imprisonment for 7 Years + Fine
  • Cognizance : Cognizable offence
  • Bail : Non-Bailable offence
  • Triable By : Magistrate of first class
  • Composition : Non- Compoundable offence

Case at a glance :

Abdul vs The State Of Uttar Pardesh (AIR 1923)[2]

In this case a police force received a secret information that a gang of thieves is present behind the Hanuman Temple, then police party reached there and after hearing their conversation they were confirmed that it was a gang of thieves and thereafter police party apprehended three persons on the spot and on interrogation these persons disclosed that by administering narcotic powder, they used to commit theft of the belongings of the passengers of trains. The apprehended accused persons were searched by the police in accordance with law and thereafter the present applicant was found in possession of the narcotic powder and the other accused Rajesh Chandra Joshi was also found in possession of narcotic powder and also one unlicensed knife. The case under Section 401 I.P.C. was registered against the accused persons . The main issue arises under this case is that the allegations made against the accused persons are taken to be true on its face value even then no offence under Section 401 I.P.C. can be said to have been made out against the applicant. As there was sufficient evidence that the applicant was associated with a gang who habitually committed offence of theft by administering narcotic substance on the passenger of the train .The court held that once it has been proved that a gang was formed for the purpose of habitually committing theft It is not necessary that accused person committed theft or not, being a member of that gang is enough for punishment.

Concluding summary :

From the above discussion it is concluded that this section punishes those who constitute a gang of theives or robbers. It is not necessary to prove that each Individual member of the gang has habitually committed theft or has committed any particular theft in the company with other members. Being a member of that gang is enough for punishment.