Section 403 in Indian Penal Codes

Title: Dishonest misappropriation of property

Description: Whoever dishonestly mis-appropriates or converts to his own use any movable property, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both. Illustrations (a) A takes property belonging to Z out of Z’s possession, in good faith, believing, at any time when he takes it, that the property belongs to himself. A is not guilty of theft; but if A, after discovering his mistake, dishonestly appropriates the property to his own use, he is guilty of an offence under this section. (b) A, being on friendly terms with Z, goes into Z’s library in Z’s absence, and takes away a book without Z’s express consent. Here, if A was under the impression that he had Z’s implied consent to take the book for the purpose of reading it, A has not committed theft. But, if A afterwards sells the book for his own benefit, he is guilty of an offence under this section. (c) A and B, being joint owners of a horse, A takes the horse out of B’s possession, intending to use it. Here, as A has a right to use the horse, he does not dishonestly misappropriate it. But, if A sells the horse and appropriates the whole proceeds to his own use, he is guilty of an offence under this section. Explanation I.—A dishonest misappropriation for a time only is a misappropriation with the meaning of this section. Illustration A finds a Government promissory note belonging to Z, bearing a blank endorsement. A, knowing that the note belongs to Z, pledges it with a banker as a security for a loan, intending at a future time to restore it to Z. A has committed an offence under this section. Explanation 2.—A person who finds property not in the possession of any other person, and takes such property for the purpose of protecting if for, or of restoring it to, the owner does not take or misappropriate it dishonestly, and is not guilty of an of­fence; but he is guilty of the offence above defined, if he appropriates it to his own use, when he knows or has the means of discovering the owner, or before he has used reasonable means to discover and give notice to the owner and has kept the proper­ty a reasonable time to enable the owner to claim it. What are reasonable means or what is a reasonable time in such a case, is a question of fact. It is not necessary that the finder should know who is the owner of the property, or that any particular person is the owner of it; it is sufficient if, at the time of appropriating it, he does not believe it to be his own property, or in good faith believe that the real owner cannot be found. Illustrations (a) A finds a rupee on the high road, not knowing to whom the rupee belongs. A picks up the rupee. Here A has not committed the offence defined in this section. (b) A finds a letter on the road, containing a bank note. From the direction and contents of the letter he learns to whom the note belongs. He appropriates the note. He is guilty of an of­fence under this section. (c) A finds a cheque payable to bearer. He can form no conjecture as to the person who has lost the cheque. But the name of the person, who has drawn the cheque, appears. A knows that this person can direct him to the person in whose favour the cheque was drawn. A appropriates the cheque without attempting to dis­cover the owner. He is guilty of an offence under this section. (d) A sees Z drop his purse with money in it. A picks up the purse with the intention of restoring it to Z, but afterwards appropriates it to his own use. A has committed an offence under this section. (e) A finds a purse with money, not knowing to whom it belongs; he afterwards discovers that it belongs to Z, and appropriates it to his own use. A is guilty of an offence under this section. (f) A finds a valuable ring, not knowing to whom it belongs. A sells it immediately without attempting to discover the owner. A is guilty of an offence under this section. CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENCE Punishment—Imprisonment for 2 years, or fine, or both—Non-cogniz­able—Bailable—Triable by any Magistrate—Compoundable by the owner of the property misappropriated with the permission of the court. comments Dishonest misappropriation or conversion of property The words ’converts to his own use’ necessarily connote the use or dealing with the property in derogation of the rights of the owner; Ramaswami Nadar v. State of Madras, AIR 1958 SC 56. Ingreidents It has been held that the word ‘dishonestly’ and ‘misappropriate’ are necessary ingredients of an offence under section 403. Any dispute being about recovery of money is purely of civil nature. Hence a criminal complaint regarding such a matter is not maintainable, U. Dhar v. State of Jharkhand, AIR 2003 SC 974.

Title: Dishonest misappropriation of property possessed by deceased person at the time of his death

Description: Whoever dishonestly misappro­priates or converts to his own use property, knowing that such property was in the possession of a deceased person at the time of that person’s decease, and has not since been in the posses­sion of any person legally entitled to such possession, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if the offender at the time of such person’s decease was employed by him as a clerk or servant, the imprisonment may extend to seven years. Illustration Z dies in possession of furniture and money. His servant A, before the money comes into the possession of any person entitled to such possession, dishonestly misappropriates it. A has commit­ted the offence defined in this section. CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENCE Punishment—Imprisonment for 3 years and fine—Non-Cognizable—Bail­able—Triable by Magistrate of the first class—Non-compoundable. If by clerk or person employed by deceased: Punishment—Imprisonment for 7 years and fine—Non-Cognizable—Bail­able—Triable by Magistrate of the first class—Non-compoundable

Title: Criminal breach of trust

Description: Whoever, being in any manner entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use that property, or dishonestly uses or disposes of that property in violation of any direction of law prescribing the mode in which such trust is to be discharged, or of any legal contract, express or implied, which he has made touching the discharge of such trust, or wilfully suffers any other person so to do, commits “criminal breach of trust”. 1[Explanation 2[1].—A person, being an employer 3[of an estab­lishment whether exempted under section 17 of the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (19 of 1952), or not] who deducts the employee’s contribution from the wages payable to the employee for credit to a Provident Fund or Family Pension Fund established by any law for the time being in force, shall be deemed to have been entrusted with the amount of the contribution so deducted by him and if he makes default in the payment of such contribution to the said Fund in violation of the said law, shall be deemed to have dishonestly used the amount of the said contribution in violation of a direction of law as aforesaid.] 4[Explanation 2.—A person, being an employer, who deducts the employees’ contribution from the wages payable to the employee for credit to the Employees’ State Insurance Fund held and admin­istered by the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation established under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 (34 of 1948), shall be deemed to have been entrusted with the amount of the contribution so deducted by him and if he makes default in the payment of such contribution to the said Fund in violation of the said Act, shall be deemed to have dishonestly used the amount of the said contribution in violation of a direction of law as aforesaid.] Illustrations (a) A, being executor to the will of a deceased person, dishon­estly disobeys the law which directs him to divide the effects according to the will, and appropriate them to his own use. A has committed criminal breach of trust. (b) A is a warehouse-keeper. Z going on a journey, entrusts his furniture to A, under a contract that it shall be returned on payment of a stipulated sum for warehouse room. A dishonestly sells the goods. A has committed criminal breach of trust. (c) A, residing in Calcutta, is agent for Z, residing at Delhi. There is an express or implied contract between A and Z, that all sums remitted by Z to A shall be invested by A, according to Z’s direction. Z remits a lakh of rupees to A, with directions to A to invest the same in Company’s paper. A dishonestly disobeys the direction and employs the money in his own business. A has com­mitted criminal breach of trust. (d) But if A, in the last illustration, not dishonestly but in good faith, believing that it will be more for Z’s advantage to hold shares in the Bank of Bengal, disobeys Z’s directions, and buys shares in the Bank of Bengal, for Z, instead of buying Company’s paper, here, though Z should suffer loss, and should be entitled to bring a civil action against A, on account of that loss, yet A, not having acted dishonestly, has not committed criminal breach of trust. (e) A, a revenue-officer, is entrusted with public money and is either directed by law, or bound by a contract, express or im­plied, with the Government, to pay into a certain treasury all the public money which he holds. A dishonestly appropriates the money. A has committed criminal breach of trust. (f) A, a carrier, is entrusted by Z with property to be carried by land or by water. A dishonestly misappropriates the property. A has committed criminal breach of trust. Comments Criminal Conspiracy Sanction for prosecution is not necessary if a public servant is charged for offence of entering into a criminal conspiracy for committed breach of trust; State of Kerala v. Padmanabham Nair, 1999 Cr LJ 3696 (SC). Criminal breach of trust: Meaning and extent It must be proved that the beneficial interest in the property in respect of which the offence is alleged to have been committed was vested in some person other than the accused, and that the accused held that property on behalf of that person. A relationship is created between the transferor and transferee, whereunder the transferor remains the owner of the property and the transferee has legal custody of the property for the benefit of the transferor himself or transferee has only the custody of the property for the benefit of the transferor himself or someone else. At best, the transferee obtains in the property entrusted to him only special interest limited to claim for his charges in respect of its safe retention, and under no circumstances does he acquire a right to dispose of that property in contravention of the condition of the entrustment; Jaswantrai Manilal Akhaney v. State of Bombay, AIR 1956 SC 575. Entrustment The word entrusted in the section is very important unless there is entrustment, there can be no offence under the section; Ramaswami Nadar v. State of Madras, AIR 1958 SC 56.

Title: Punishment for criminal breach of trust

Description: Whoever commits 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.

Title: Criminal breach of trust by carrier etc

Description: Whoever, being entrusted with property as a carrier, wharfinger or warehouse-keeper, commits criminal breach of trust in respect of such property, shall be punished with imprisonment of either descrip­tion for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

CHAPTER 17 OF OFFENCES AGAINST PROPERTY