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Hastimal Asaldas Vs. the State of Gujarat - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1975CriLJ983; (1975)GLR353
AppellantHastimal Asaldas
RespondentThe State of Gujarat
Cases ReferredAjendranath v. State of Madhya Pradesh
Excerpt:
.....pradesh [1964]3scr289 .under the circumstances, the learned trial magistrate was right in convicting the appellant under section 414 of the indian penal code as..........assistance in the matter of concealing or disposing or making away was in fact proved to be stolen property what requires to be placed in focus is the crucial difference in the wording of these two sections which might make a world pf difference. the aspect which i have in mind is the one stemming from the circumstance that section 411 relating to dishonest receiving of stolen property in express terms makes it essential for the prosecution to establish that the property in question must be 'stolen property' (see the opening part of section 411). if in -juxtaposition with section 411 a glance is now stolen at section 414 it will be observed that the said section (as it appears to me advisedly and deliberately) makes a departure by omitting the expression 'stolen property' and by.....
Judgment:

M.P. Thakkar, J.

1. The elite amongst the world of pilferers and their associate will be as keenly interested aa the academician in the question placed in th centre of the perspective which does not appear to have been pointedly raised very often so far. Is it essential in order to establish an offence under Section 414 of the Indian. Penal Code to show that the property in relation to which the culprit rendered voluntary assistance in the matter of concealing or disposing or making away was in fact proved to be stolen property What requires to be placed in focus is the crucial difference in the wording of these two sections which might make a world pf difference. The aspect which I have in mind is the one stemming from the circumstance that Section 411 relating to dishonest receiving of stolen property in express terms makes it essential for the prosecution to establish that the property in question must be 'stolen property' (see the opening part of Section 411). If in -juxtaposition with Section 411 a glance is now stolen at Section 414 it will be observed that the said section (as it appears to me advisedly and deliberately) makes a departure by omitting the expression 'stolen property' and by employing the expression 'property which the offender knows or has reason to believe to be stolen property.' It would, therefore, prima facie appear that the essential ingredient to establish in order to bring home the_ guilt for an offence under Section 411 is that the property, in question was stolen property whereas so far as Section 414 is concerned, the Legislaure did not insist or require the prosecution to establish that the property was in fact stolen property. It would appear that so far as Section 414 is concerned, it is sufficient for the prosecution to satisfy the Court that the property in relation to which the offence is alleged to have been committed appears to be stolen property or in respect of which the Court has rea. son to believe that it is a stolen property without establishing whether in fact it is stolen, from where it is stolen, when it is stolen and who has stolen or how it has been stolen. But before this interesting question is placed under the microscope for arriving at the true interpretation by correct analysis, the facts in the background of which this question arises require to be stated.

2-12. xx xx xx xx

13. With regard to the 16 bales I have already recorded a finding that there is reason to believe that these goods are stolen goods. I have also recorded the finding that having regard to the cumulative effect of the circumstances discussed earlier, there is no escape from the conclusion that the appellant also had reason to believe that these were stolen goods. The question then is whether the appellant can be convicted in this connection for an offence under Section 414 of the Indian Penal Code. And it is in this background that the question as regards the true interpretation of Section 414 and the ingredients required to be established to bring home an offence under that section arises. In or'der to bring into focus the point at issue, Sections 411 and 414 of the Indian Penal Code require to be quoted and studied; in juxtaposition. When quoted along with marginal notes, the sections read as under:-

411. 'Dishonestly receiving stolen property. - Whoever dishonestly re-eives or retains any stolen property, knowing or having reason to believe the $am,e to be stolen property, shall 'be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.'

414. 'Assisting in concealment of stolen property. - Whoever voluntarily assists in concealing or disposing of or making away with property which he knows or has reason to believe to be stolen property, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

There is a vital difference in regard 1o the ingredients of these two sections. So far as Section 411 is concerned, the opening words make it abundantly clear that the property in relation to which the offence can be said to be committed must be established to be stolen property. Having deliberately and consciously used the expression 'stolen property' in Section 411 and having cast the burden on the prosecution to establish that the property which was received and retained dishonestly was stolen property, the Legislature has made a departure whilst defining the offence of concealing, disposing of r making away with property under Section 414. Section 414 relates to the property in respect of which voluntary assistance has been rendered sufficient to conceal, dispose of or making away with it which the offender knows or has reason to believe to be stolen. The Legislature does not require that the property in question must be 'proved' to be 'stolen' property. Wh.v did the Legislature make this departure and why were the key-words 'stolen property' omitted when defining the offence under Section 414 of the Indian Penal Code? There must have been a purpose. If the legislature does not say that it is essential for the prosecution to prove that the property concerned in the offence of rendering voluntary assistance in the matter f concealment, disposal of or making away with is stolen property, whilst interpreting the section the requirement regarding this ingredient cannot be imported into it To do so would be to rewrite the section and to introduce an ingredient not considered essential by the Legislature. It is of great significance to realise that Section 414 makes it an offence to render voluntary assistance in regard to concealment, disposal of or making away. The three expressions 'concealing', 'disposing or' or 'making away' have been purposely and deliberately employed. Concealing, means, doing something in a stealthy manner, that is to say, in a manner otherwise than in an open, natural, innocent and frank manner. The expression 'disposing for 'making away' in the context in which it has been used is meant to convey the idea of getting rid with an ulterior motive, that is to say, getting rid of a property not in the normal manner in tke usual course of dealings but in a sinister fashion to which criminality can be attributed. And it is in this context that the Legislature has employed the expression 'knowing or having reason to believe the same to be stolen property' in regard to the offender. In other words, it has been made an offence for anyone to render assistance voluntarily, that is to say, with knowledge and consciousness and without any coercion or compulsion. And it has Ibeen made an offence to voluntarily render assistance in regard to a property in respect of which he knows that it is stolen' or he has reason to believe that it is stolen. More so when he is rendering this assistance by resorting to some dubious or underhand means in a sinister fashion that is inconsistent with normal innocent conduct not tainted with any criminal significance. In my opinion, therefore, it is not necessary to establish that the property in respect of which assistance has been rendered in getting rid of the property in a sinister fashion, is stolen property, if it can be established that the offender knew or had reason to believe that it was stolen property. In order to bring home the offence it is not necessary in my opinion for the prosecution to establish that this property was stolen property if it can be shown that there are reasons to believe objectively that the property is stolen property. In such an event it is not necessary to establish from whom the theft was committed, when it was committed, how it was committed and who committed it. There is, therefore, no substance in the argument that it must be shown to be the property which was stolen from the Mill Company at the material time and that unless the identity is established, the prosecution must fail. In my opinion, the appellant knew or had reason to believe that the propery he was dealing, with was stolen propertv. It is also established that he had rendered assistance' knowingly and deliberately, without coercion, in a voluntary manner. And that what he had done was that he had assisted in concealing, disposing of or making away with the property. The ,act of sending the goods to Shantilal at Bombay though Shantilal had not placed any order leads to the conclusion that it was an attempt to dispose of or making away with the property presumably because it was considered unsafe to keep it at Ahmeda-bad - the place from where it appeared to have been stolen. The fact that these goods were entrusted to Lalbahadur at the office of Gautam Roadways also leads to the same conclusion that' it was an effort to conceal the goods from being detected. It can also be construed as rendering assistance to make away with ihe property. It was argued that the assistance must have been rendered to one of the accused hauled up for the crime. There is, however, no substance in it. All that the prosecution has to establish is that help was rendered in its concealment or disposal. It is not necessary to establish to whom the help was rendered. Nothing turns on the circumstance that the co-accused were acquitted either. I am fortified in the view that I am taking by Ajendranath v. State of Madhya Pradesh : [1964]3SCR289 . Under the circumstances, the learned trial Magistrate was right in convicting the appellant under Section 414 of the Indian Penal Code as well. The conviction as also sentence must, therefore, be confirmed.

14. The appeal is dismissed. The rder of conviction and sentence passed gainst the appellant is confirmed. The appellant is granted two weeks' time commencing from the date of signing of the judgment to surrender to custody.


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