Criminal Breach of Trust- Punishment under Section 406 of IPC

by  Adv. Rupa K.N  

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Section 406 of IPC

Introduction

Section 406 of IPC, 1860, deals with the penalty clause of criminal breach of trust, which is defined in Section 405 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. So, by its own heading in Section 405, it is clear that when any “person” places their trust in “someone” for transferring possession of some property to “someone,” that “someone” then breaches the trust of the “person” by retaining the property comes under the ambit of Section 406 of IPC.

Definition of Section 406 of IPC

Section 406 of the IPC describes the punishment for criminal breach of trust. “Whoever commits a criminal breach of trust shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”

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Ingredients of Section 406 of IPC

1. An entrustment of the property against which the charges are levied is required. The property here covers both moveable and immovable property.

2. The individual must have dishonestly misused the property in violation of the duties committed to that person.

3. Section 405 of the IPC’s elements must be violated.

What is a Criminal breach of trust under Section 406 of IPC?

In layman’s terms, a criminal breach of trust happens when the accused commits an offence in the property’s best interest by creating or converting another person’s property for his own use. The transferor and transferee of the property establish a connection in which the transferor retains legal ownership. Still, the transferee has custody or control of it for the transferor’s or another person’s benefit.

Punishment under Section 406 of IPC 

The term of punishment for committing a criminal breach of trust is specified in Section 406 of IPC. Depending on the circumstances, the offender is sentenced to three years in jail, a fine, or both.

Criminal breach of trust is a non-bailable and cognizable offence that may only be tried by a Magistrate of the First Class. Furthermore, with the court’s consent, the property owner in respect of which the breach of trust has occurred may compound the offence.

People Also Read: Is Section 379 of IPC Bailable or Not?

Entrustment of Property under Section 406 of IPC

Generally, it refers to transferring property ownership to another person. In general, such a property transfer does not imply the loss of ownership or other property rights. Furthermore, “entrusting” property necessitates the establishment of some fiduciary relationship. Put another way, the individual receiving the property must be legally in a position of trust.

A married lady is the most common example. It is not a strict rule that the woman’s ownership of stridhan automatically transfers to her husband once she enters her in-laws’ home. It should be noted that the husband and his parents are obligated to surrender the woman’s property at her request as the trustees of such property.

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Section 406 of IPC and Stridhan

According to Hindu law, a wife is entitled to possess, use, and dispose of her stridhan at her discretion. It is essential that she be given what was rightly hers on demand or otherwise in the event that the wife chooses to leave the marital home. If the husband or any of his family members misappropriate something or refuse to give it back to the wife for whatever reason, it is considered a criminal breach of trust and can be punished under Section 406 of IPC.

What kind of proofs are admissible under Section 406 of IPC 

1. The beneficial ownership of the property in relation to which the alleged offence was committed must be shown, and it must be shown that the accused held the property on behalf of the other party.

2. The transferee has custody of the item; the transferor is still the rightful owner.

3. Unless there are circumstances surrounding it from which one might infer that it was an entrustment and not just a payment, any financial transfer made by one person to another does not constitute an entrustment.

4. In cases where the married woman’s complaint contained clear, detailed, and unambiguous charges of entrustment and theft of stridhan property, all of the events set out therein constitute an offence under Section 406 of IPC.

5. There must be an intention to commit a criminal breach, and this intent must be established in order to seek punishment under Section 406 of IPC.

Regarding Section 406 IPC, it should be noted that the Section 405 IPC ingredients must be proven in order to establish the conduct of the offence under Section 406 of IPC. Therefore, the prosecution must show that the accused was granted trust, that he had authority or control over the objects, and that he then misappropriated them. The analysis of this concept can be easily understood through a legal consultation with a criminal lawyer or an online lawyer.

Cases relating to Section 406 of IPC

1. The Supreme Court ruled in the case of State of Gujarat vs. Jaswantlal Nathalal (AIR 1968 SC 700) that the term “entrustment” implies that the person who transfers any property or transfers it on their behalf remains the property’s owner under Section 406 of IPC.

2. In Mohammed Sulaiman vs. Mohammed Ayub, the court claimed that “According to Section 405 IPC, property must be used or disposed of in violation of any express or implicit legal contract if something is done to it that would suggest misappropriation, conversion, or misuse to establish an offence under Section 406 of IPC. The terms of this section will not apply to a simple civil dispute”.

3. The Supreme Court ruled in Rashmi Kumar vs. Mahesh Kumar Bhada that a husband or specified family member who dishonestly misappropriates or steals a wife’s stridhan property for his benefit or who authorizes another person to do so constitutes a criminal breach of trust.

4. In the State of Uttar Pradesh vs. Babu Ram, the accused, a sub-inspector, investigated a theft case in a hamlet. The Supreme Court ruled that the cash notes were supplied to the sub-inspector for a specific reason and that the victim trusted the accused to return the money once he was happy with it. If the accused had removed the money notes, it would constitute a criminal breach of trust, and Section 406 of IPC would be applied.

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Conclusion

The person giving over the property must have confidence in the person accepting it to establish a fiduciary relationship between the two parties or to put him in the position of trustee. The intent to misappropriate must be established for a criminal breach of trust to stand.

The complainant needs to prove prima facie that there was a purpose on the part of the petitioner or others to deceive or defraud the complainant right from the start to attract the elements of Section 406 IPC.

A criminal breach of trust can be established by proving the malafide intent of the accused. Consult a criminal lawyer for legal advice.

Adv. Rupa K.N

Adv. Rupa K.N

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Advocate Rupa K.N, with over 24 years of independent practice, specialises in providing legal expertise, advice and guidance to a broad range of customers. Having been practising law independently for several years after doing her B.A. LLB from Bangalore University and PGDM from the National Institute of Personnel Management.

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