Receiving a property that a person knows to be a stolen one is a crime. Such property may have been stolen by way of theft, extortion, or by any other way. It is considered a crime because buying of such property would encourage crimes like theft, robbery etc as the person stealing such property would get money after selling the stolen property. Therefore, receiving of stolen property is a crime to prevent the selling of stolen property which may reward thieves for their criminal acts. It also prevents concealing of property by a person who knows that such property is obtained by an illegal way. There are various provisions related to the receiving of stolen property in IPC. These are given under Section 410 to 414 of the IPC.

Stolen Property

Section 410 states that a property whose possession has been transferred by theft, extortion, or robbery and which has been criminally misappropriated or in respect of which criminal breach of trust has been committed, is considered a “stolen property”, where the transfer of it has been made, or its misappropriation or breach of trust has been committed, within or without India. It further states that if the property subsequently comes into the possession of a person who is legally entitled to possess that, it then ceases to be stolen property.

Essential Ingredients

Property should be Stolen Property.

The property being received by a person must be a stolen property to constitute an offence of receiving stolen property under the provisions of the Code. Property whose possession is transferred by the five ways given in Section 410 is considered a stolen property. Those are:

  1. By theft.
  2. By extortion.
  3. By robbery.
  4. By criminal misappropriation; and
  5. By criminal breach of trust.

Ownerless Property

It is based on the concept of res nullius which means that a property which has no owner, or which has been abandoned by its actual owner. A property which has no owner cannot be subject to theft and hence, receiving it would not lead to receipt of stolen property.

‘Within or Without India’

Section 410 says that it is immaterial to consider whether the transfer has been made, or criminal misappropriation, or breach of trust has been committed, within or outside India. The transfer of such property can be made within or without India to qualify it as “stolen property”.

Property Obtained Otherwise

It must be noted that a property obtained by cheating or forgery is not called a stolen property.

Property exchanged or converted.

A property which is obtained by exchanging or converting stolen property is not stolen property. For e.g., if some amount of cash is obtained by selling a stolen property, then that cash would not be called stolen property.

Receiving or Retaining Stolen Property with Knowledge

The offence under Section 411 is not made punishable just for receiving a stolen property from any person for any reason. The offence is made punishable only when someone buys such property with the knowledge or having reason to believe that it was stolen property.

The word “believe” involves the necessity of establishing that the circumstances were such that a reasonable person would be convinced that the property he is purchasing or dealing with, is stolen.

If a person has obtained a property that he does not know to be stolen, it is not sufficient to show that the accused was careless, or he had reason to suspect that the property was stolen, or he did not make sufficient enquiry to ascertain the status of that property. It is immaterial whether the person receiving it knows or not who stole it. Initial possessing of that property is not a crime but if the person retains it after knowing that it was stolen property, then the person is liable.




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