Section 379 IPC: Essential Elements of the Section

by  Adv. Rupa K.N  




3 mins


Section 379 IPC

Introduction to IPC 379

  • The Indian Penal Code 1860 lists offences against property and those against people, the State, marriage, and public order. 
  • The Code’s Chapter 17 contains several provisions. These crimes include theft, extortion, robbery, dacoity, and various aggravating versions of these offences. 
  • Theft is the most fundamental and pervasive crime against property under the IPC. Criminal law deals with Section 379 IPC.
  • Section 379 IPC, also referred to as ‘Sec 379 IPC,’ defines the crime of theft and its essential elements.

What is Theft?

The dishonest removal of moveable goods “out of the custody of any person” without that person’s agreement constitutes theft, according to Section 378 of the IPC. The Code provides 16 examples to go along with each of the five explanations for the aforementioned definition.

Intent (in any form, such as dishonesty) is a key factor in theft. However, Section 378 (Illustration Clause “p”) implies that if something is taken in reliance on a claim of right, the thing taken cannot be dishonest if the claim is just, legitimate, and fair. Thus, such taking cannot be regarded as larceny. Theft is punishable under Section 379 IPC.

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Section 379 IPC at a Glance

The punishment for theft under Section 379 IPC includes imprisonment for up to three years, or a fine, or both. Aggravated forms of theft may attract higher penalties. For instance, theft in a structure, tent, or vessel used for habitation or habitation is prohibited by Section 380 of the IPC. This clause’s objective is to make residential dwellings’ contents more secure. This carries a fine and a possible prison sentence of up to 7 years.

Nature of Section 379 IPC is Non-bailable & Cognizable, Non- Compoundable offences and triable by the Magistrate.

Many people often ask, ‘Is Section 379 IPC bailable or not?’ The answer is that theft under Section 379 IPC is generally considered a bailable offence. However, granting bail depends on various factors, including the nature of the theft, the accused’s background, and judicial discretion.

Another common question is whether Section 379 IPC is compoundable or not. Theft under this section is considered a non-compoundable offence, meaning that the parties cannot enter into a compromise to have the charges dropped.

Classification of OffenceCognizable or Non-CognizableBailable or Non-BailableBy What Court TriableCompoundable or Non-Compoundable
BailableCognizableBailableAny MagistrateNon-compoundable

Essential Elements of Section 379 IPC

There are various components or prerequisites for the crime of theft. All of these conditions must be completed for the theft offence to be considered complete. If any of them are missing, the theft is not considered to have occurred. The following are the essential elements of theft that must be established in any specific case in order to subject a person to punishment under Section 379 IPC, which specifies the penalty for stealing:

  • Willful intent to steal property- The main element that makes the crime of theft punishable under Section 379 IPC is that the criminal must have malicious intent in order to commit theft. With dishonest purpose, the criminal typically causes the victim to sustain unjust losses while making an erroneous profit.

One of the key elements in the crime of stealing is the dishonest intent to take property. The purpose is one of the most important criteria for judging whether or not an act qualifies as theft. The intent to steal shall exist at the time when the property is moved.

The onus is entirely on the prosecution to prove that the defendant intended to act dishonestly. If the accused did not plan to steal, they are not guilty of doing so.

  • Movable Property- The second important element of Section 379 IPC is Movable Property. Rather than being stationary, the stolen goods must always be mobile.

Therefore, it is illegal to steal real estate, structures, or other goods. Things affixed to the earth that cannot be moved are not subject to theft. If they are cut loose from the ground, Section 378 may apply to them as mobile property. For instance, trees are immovable property, but cutting them down and taking them away constitutes theft.

  • Taking control of the property without permission- The prosecutor need only be in charge of the relevant property; he is not required to be the owner. In addition, the offender must purposefully take the property out of the prosecutor’s control. 

This means that taking possession of a piece of property is necessary in addition to simply claiming ownership of it.

Second, he must seize the property without the prosecutor’s permission. This agreement may be explicitly stated or implicit. Without this element, the offender cannot be punished under  Section 379 IPC. 

  • The item has to be moved– The property must be moved in order for the thief to complete the crime and take ownership of it. To put it another way, he needs to move it under his true control; just having physical possession is insufficient. 

Moving is the removal of an impediment that is preventing the object from moving. For instance, driving a car out of a garage is theft after opening its doors.

Summarizing Essential Elements of Section 379 IPC

Essential ElementDescription
Dishonest IntentIntention to permanently deprive the owner of the property
Movable PropertyProperty must be physically movable
Taking Control Without PermissionTaking possession without the owner’s consent
Moving the ItemThe physical movement of the property from its original position

Therefore, these are the essential elements that, in combination, make the offender liable for punishment under Section 379 IPC. Always take Legal Consultation from a criminal expert in case of the offence under Section 379 IPC. 

Are You Facing Charges Under Section 379 IPC? Get Legal Support Now!

Case Laws and Practical Examples of Section 379 of IPC

1. Case Law: State of Gujarat vs. Kishanbhai (2005)

Summary: In this case, the Supreme Court emphasized the importance of intent in theft. The accused was convicted under Section 379 IPC for stealing jewellery. The Court held that the mere possession of stolen property soon after theft is insufficient to convict; the prosecution must prove dishonest intent.

2. Case Law: Pyare Lal Bhargava vs. State Of Rajasthan (1962)

Summary: This landmark case involved a government employee who took certain official documents without permission. The Supreme Court held that the act constituted theft under Section 379 IPC, emphasizing that the intention to cause wrongful gain and moving the property were crucial elements.

3. Practical Example: Theft of Mobile Phone

Scenario: A person snatches a mobile phone from a pedestrian on the street and runs away.
Legal Analysis: This act constitutes theft under Section 379 IPC as it involves the dishonest removal of movable property without the owner’s consent. The essential elements of theft, such as intent, movable property, and taking control without permission, are fulfilled.

4. Practical Example: Theft of Trees

Scenario: A person cuts down trees from someone else’s land and takes them away.
Legal Analysis: Though trees are considered immovable property, cutting them down and taking them away constitutes theft under Section 379 IPC. This example illustrates the application of theft laws to movable property once separated from the earth.

5. Case Law: Prakash Deb vs. The State Of Assam (2013)

Summary: In this case, the accused was convicted under Section 379 IPC for stealing electricity. The Court held that stealing electricity falls within the ambit of theft under the IPC, expanding the understanding of movable property.

The above case laws and practical examples provide valuable insights into applying Section 379 IPC in various scenarios. They highlight the importance of intent, the nature of movable property, and the legal interpretations that guide the enforcement of theft laws in India.

These real-world applications enhance understanding of theft as a legal concept and demonstrate its relevance in contemporary society.

Difference between Extortion & Theft 

The delivery of goods is crucial in determining the difference between theft and extortion. When a property is taken or removed without the owner’s consent, it is considered stolen. The illicit property transfer with consent while generating fear is known as extortion.

Extortion can be applied to both stationary and moving targets. But only a mobile object can be the intended victim of theft. 

Another key characteristic that sets the item apart is the way it is delivered. In the case of theft, the property is stolen by the criminal without the owner’s consent. As a result, we can conclude that in a theft, the criminal took the object, and the delivery method indicates that the thief intended to be dishonest.

Difference between Larceny & Theft 

The unlawful stealing of another person’s personal property with the intention of depriving them of it is referred to as larceny. Grand larceny is typically a felony, whereas petty or simple larceny typically involves the theft of items valued at less than the local threshold for grand larceny. Contrarily, theft occurs when someone takes another person’s property with the intent of denying the property’s lawful owner.

It can be inferred that larceny is a sort of theft that only applies to personal property as a result. Larceny is included in the definition of theft, which is a general term. Therefore, it can be concluded that Larceny & Theft are different offences.

Consult Our Experts To Understand The Legal Provisions, Implications, And Penalties Associated With Theft In India

Differences between theft, extortion, and larceny

(Section 379)
Extortion (Section 383)Larceny
DefinitionDishonest taking of movable propertyObtaining property by threats or forceUnlawful stealing of personal property
IntentPermanent deprivationCoercion to deliver propertyPermanent deprivation
PunishmentUp to 3 yearsUp to 3 yearsVaries by jurisdiction


According to Indian criminal law, theft is a crime that is sanctioned by Section 379 IPC. All the necessary components, or criteria, must be present for something to be considered theft. The basic elements of Section 379 IPC should be fulfilled for punishing an offender who is a crime under Section 378 IPC. Take Legal Advice in case of any issue related to Section 379 IPC. 

The difference between extortion and larceny is theft. Additionally, there are more severe forms of stealing, such as robbery and dacoity. Any theft involves intent, which is crucial. This is because if you don’t intend to steal in the first place, you can’t. Therefore, merely removing something from someone’s possession without ulterior motives is not stealing. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What constitutes theft under Section 379 IPC?

A1: Theft under Section 379 IPC involves the dishonest removal of movable property without the owner’s consent to permanently deprive the owner of that property. It includes essential elements such as intent, movable property, taking control without permission, and moving the item.

Q2: How is theft different from robbery and burglary?

A2: Theft is the dishonest taking of movable property. Robbery includes theft but with the use of force or fear of injury. Burglary involves entering a building unlawfully with intent to commit theft or another felony. Each has distinct legal elements and punishments.

Q3: Can theft of electricity or data be considered under Section 379 IPC?

A3: Yes, theft of electricity or data can fall under Section 379 IPC. The Supreme Court has held that stealing electricity constitutes theft, as seen in the case of Prakash Deb vs. The State Of Assam (2013). Similarly, unauthorized access and data removal can be considered theft of movable property.

Q4: What is the punishment for theft under Section 379 IPC?

A4: The punishment for theft under Section 379 IPC includes imprisonment for up to three years, or a fine, or both. Aggravated forms of theft may attract higher penalties.

Q5: Is theft a bailable offence?

A5: Yes, theft under Section 379 IPC is generally considered a bailable offence. However, granting bail depends on various factors, including the nature of the theft, the accused’s background, and judicial discretion.

Q6: Can theft of immovable property like land be considered under Section 379 IPC?

A6: Section 379 IPC deals explicitly with the theft of movable property. However, if an immovable property like a tree is cut down and taken away, it becomes movable and can be considered theft under this section.

To know more about the offense of Section 379 IPC, consult a Lawyer.

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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