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Robbery

Section 390 of IPC, 1860 deals with the offence of Robbery. It defines robbery as either theft or extortion. 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.

While, 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, 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. Sec. 392 deals with the punishment for robbery. Section 394 of the IPC prescribes the punishment for voluntarily causing hurt while committing or attempting to commit robbery.

Section 397 of the IPC prescribes the punishment for causing grievous hurt or attempting to cause death or grievous hurt to any person at the time of committing robbery while Section 398 of the IPC prescribes the punishment if the offender is armed with any deadly weapon while attempting to commit robbery. Robbery is an aggravated form of either theft or extortion.

The opening words of Section 390, IPC, show that there cannot be any robbery, if there is no theft or extortion. Both in theft and extortion, dishonesty is an essential ingredient. So, if there is no element of dishonesty in an act, there can be no offence of theft or extortion and consequently there cannot be an offence of robbery.

Similarly, removal of movable property from the possession of another is a necessary element to constitute an offence of theft. If this element is absent, then there is no theft and consequently, there will be no robbery either. Thus, in order to verify whether a particular act would amount to a robbery or not, one has to first establish that the offence has essential ingredients of theft or extortion, since robbery is nothing but an aggravated form of theft and extortion.

Theft or extortion or attempt to commit any one of the two is an inevitable ingredient for robbery. Theft becomes robbery, if, in order to facilitate the committing of theft or in attempting to carry away the stolen property, the offender (i.e. the thief) voluntarily causes or attempts to cause death, hurt or wrongful restraint or fear of instant death, instant hurt or instant wrongful restraint.

Section 390, IPC, defines the offence of robbery. Robbery in common language means to deprive a person of his or her own property. The chief distinguishing element in robbery, theft, and extortion is the presence of imminent fear of violence. In all robbery there is either theft or extortion.

The essence of 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.

The essential ingredients for the offence of robbery are:
When theft becomes robbery:

  1. That accused in order of committing theft; or
  2. In committing theft; or
  3. In carrying away or attempt to carry away the property obtained by the theft, voluntarily causes or attempt to cause to that person or to any person death, hurt or wrongful restraint or of instant death, hurt or wrongful restraint. 

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