According to Section 390, there is either theft or extortion in every robbery. In other words, the offence of robbery is an aggravated form of either:
(1) theft, or
Therefore, we need to understand robbery under both of these conditions individually.
(1) When theft is robbery
Theft, in simple words, means taking movable property out of a person’s lawful possession without his consent. Robbery generally takes place when, while committing theft or moving the property subject of theft, the offender:
(a) voluntarily causes or attempts to cause death/hurt/wrongful restraint to any person, or
(b) voluntarily causes or attempts to cause fear of instant death/hurt/wrongful restraint.
In other words, theft becomes robbery when the offender commits any of the above two acts while committing theft. It can also happen when he completes the theft and tries to move the property away.
(2) When extortion is robbery
Extortion basically means obtaining some kind of property from a person by instilling a fear of injury. Extortion becomes robbery when the offender is in the presence of the victim while committing it. The offender must also put the fear of instant death/hurt/wrongful restraint in the victim or another person.
Furthermore, the victim of this extortion must deliver the extorted property to the offender. If all of these conditions exist, the offence of extortion becomes a robbery.
For example, an offender grabs hold of a man’s daughter and places a knife to her throat. He then asks her father to give him money or else he will kill his daughter. This offences now aggravate from extortion to robbery.
Punishment for Robbery
Since robbery is an aggravated form of theft or extortion, the punishment for it involves rigorous imprisonment instead of simple imprisonment.
The term of imprisonment extends to 10 years and also involves a fine. This extends further to 14 years if the offender commits robbery on a highway between sunset and sunrise.
Simply attempting to commit robbery is also punishable with rigorous imprisonment up to 7 years with fine.
Another form of punishment for robbery arises when the offender causes hurt while committing robbery. In such cases, the punishment is life imprisonment or rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years with fine.
The difference between robbery and dacoity simply depends upon the number of offenders involved. When five or more people conjointly commit or attempt robbery, their offence becomes dacoity. Similarly, even if the number of people attempting or abetting robbery is five or more, they are guilty of dacoity.
Punishment for Dacoity
All offenders committing dacoity are collectively liable to punishment irrespective of whether they commit it or simply attempt/aid it. The punishment includes life imprisonment or rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years along with fine.
If any offender commits murder while committing dacoity, all the offenders collectively are liable to a death sentence. Alternatively, they can receive life imprisonment or rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years with fine.
Difference between Robbery and Dacoity:
The most basic difference between the offences of robbery and dacoity is the number of people they involve. While a single person can commit robbery, five or more people must collectively commit dacoity.
Secondly, robbery is a generic offence that is an aggravated form of theft or extortion. On the other hand, a dacoity is just a specific form of robbery involving five or more offences. Thus, every dacoity is a robbery but every robbery need not be a dacoity.
Thirdly, the punishment for dacoity is more severe than for robbery. This is because when more people collectively commit an offence, the chances of damage or harm are more.