390. Robbery.-In all robbery there is either theft or extortion.
When theft is robbery. Theft is “robbery” if, in order to the committing of the theft, or in committing the theft or in carrying away or attempting to carry away property obtained by the 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 of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint.
When extortion is robbery.
Extortion is “robbery” if the offender at the time of committing the extortion, is in the presence of the person put in fear, and commits the extortion by putting that person in fear of instant death, or of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint to that person, or to some other person, and, by so putting in fear, induces the person so put in fear then and there to deliver up the thing extorted.
Explanation :The offender is said to be present if he is sufficiently near to put the other person in fear of instant death, or instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint.
(a) 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, in order to the committing of that theft, has voluntarily caused wrongful restraint to Z. A has therefore committed robbery.
(b) A meets Z on the high road, shows a pistol, and demands Z’s purse. Z, in consequence, 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.
(c) A meets Z and Z’s child on the high road. A takes the child, and threatens to fling 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.
(d) A obtains property from Z by saying- “Your child is in the hands of my gang, and will be put to death unless you send us ten thousand rupees”.
This is extortion, and punishable as such; but it is not robbery, unless Z is put in fear of the instant death of his child.
Essentials of Robbery
Robbery is an aggravated form of either theft or extortion or of both. The essence of the offence of robbery is the presence of imminent fear or violence. A large proportion of robberies are a mixed case of aggravated form of theft and extortion. Para 2 of this section deals when theft is robbery and Para 3 deals when extortion is robbery.
When theft is robbery. -Theft is robbery in the following conditions :-
1. When someone voluntarily causes or attempts to cause to any person,
- death or hurt or wrongful restraint, or
- fear of instant death or instant hurt or of instant wrongful restraint.
2. The above acts must be done for any of the following ends :-
- in order to the committing of theft, or
- in committing theft, or
- in carrying away, or attempting to carry away property obtained by theft.
In Venu alias Venugopal v. State of Karnataka, appellants allegedly intercepted victim and robbed gold and cash by threatening with knife. It was held that evidence of victim, her husband and recovery of vehicle used clearly established commission of offence of robbery by appellants. Offence was committed at night on public road not a highway, therefore, conviction of appellants is proper.
It was also observed that robbery is only an aggravated form of offence of theft or extortion and aggravation is in use of violence, of death, hurt or restraint. Violence must be in the course of theft and not subsequently. It is not necessary that violence should be committed actually but even attempt to commit is enough. The words “for that end” used in Section 390 clearly mean that hurt caused must be with the object of facilitating committing of theft or must be caused while offender is committing theft or is attempting to carry away property obtained by theft.
Carrying away.- For an offence of robbery, death, hurt, or wrongful restraint may be caused either in committing theft or in order to the committing of theft or it may even be caused after committing theft but in order to carry away the property obtained by theft. This means that death, hurt or wrongful restraint may be caused either before, or during or after committing theft but it must be caused for any of the ends stated in the first part of para 2.
For that end. –As explained above the expression “for that end” indicates that death, hurt, or wrongful restraint is caused in order to the committing of theft, or in committing theft, or in carrying away property obtained by theft. But if a person causes hurt simply to avoid his capture when he is surprised by the owner while stealing, it would be a case of theft and not of robbery.
Mere use of violence does not convert the offence of theft into robbery, unless the violence is committed for one of the ends specified in para 2 of this section. Thus where the accused abandoned the property obtained by theft and threw stones at his pursuers to deter them from continuing the pursuits, he was guilty of theft and not of robbery.
In a case D was relieved of his wrist watch by A in a railway compartment when the train was about to stop at a station. As D raised an alarm B gave him a slap and both A and B jumped out of the m compartment and ran away. Soon after both of them were found taking tea at a stall situated near the railway station. Both A and B will be guilty under section 392 read with section 34 I.P.C. because B in furtherance of common intention to commit robbery and with the intention to save A from being caught caused hurt to D and has thus helped in carrying away the stolen property.
Voluntarily causes. –The use of the words ‘voluntarily causes’ in this section is significant because merely causing of incidental injury does not convert the offence into robbery. The injury must be voluntarily caused. For instance, where the accused in snatching a nose-ring of a woman wounded her in the nostril and caused her blood to flow. He was held guilty of robbery.
Person. -The word “person” is defined in section 11 of the Code. It means both natural and juridical person. Normally dead body of a human being may not be a person but for the purposes of this section the word ‘person’ does not exclude the dead body of a human being who was killed in the course of the same transaction in which theft was committed.
When extortion is robbery. – Extortion is robbery if the following conditions are fulfilled:
- when a person commits extortion by putting another person in fear of instant death, or instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint to that person or to some other person; and
- such a person by so putting another in fear, induces the person so put in fear then and there 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.
Illustrations (b), (c) and (d) to this section are the examples of those cases where extortion becomes robbery.
In the presence of the person. – For extortion to become robbery it is necessary that the offender must be present before the person put in fear of injury. Explanation to this section clarifies that a person is said to be present if he is sufficiently near to put the other person in fear of instant death, or instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint. The offence of extortion becomes robbery if the offender by reason of his presence is capable enough to carry his threat into effect instantaneously. That is, the victim delivers his property in order to avoid imminent danger of injury to himself or to some other person.
A takes out a knife and points at B and says to C that he will kill his son B if she refuses to part with her golden chain. C delivers that chain to A. A is guilty of the offence of robbery because he extorts money by putting B in immediate danger to life.
Where A a police officer obtains from B certain ornament by putting him under the fear that he will immediately be put into prison and will not be released for months, the police officer is guilty of robbery under this section.
In State of Maharashtra v. Vinayak Utekar,’ the accused snatched the gold buttons from the shirt of a person and ran away. While running away, he was caught by the informant to whom the accused gave a knife blow. The Court held the accused guilty under Section 390 for the offence of robbery as it could not be contended that the accused gave knife blow only to get himself freed from the clutches of the informant and not to ensure the taking away of the gold buttons which was a stolen property.
In Sikandar v. Delhi Administration, the accused persons struck several knife blows on the woman and compelled her to part with her ear-rings and the bunch of keys which she had tied in the string of her salwar. They were held guilty of offence of robbery under Section 390/34 of IPC.
Whoever commits robbery shall be punished with robbery. rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and, if the robbery be committed on the highway between sunset and sunrise, the imprisonment may be extended to fourteen years.