No man can be convicted under Section 412 for ‘receiving or retaining’ stolen goods unless he is shown at the material time to have been in possession or control of the place where they were discovered or at least to have had some knowledge of their deposit there. The conviction under Section 412, the prosecution has to prove that the accused has dishonestly received the stolen property knowing or having reason to believe that its possession has been transferred by the commission of a dacoity. An absence of the knowledge that they were stolen in dacoity will render the person in possession of such articles free from any liability under Section 412 and instead, he will be liable under Section 411. In Re Moinuddin Majundar [(1972) CrLJ 456 (SC)], properties from a dacoity were recovered from the accused.
But the facts failed to show that the accused believed them to be properties of a dacoity. Therefore, the Supreme Court held him to be liable under Section 411 and not under Section 412. Section 412 deals with those persons other than the dacoits themselves. So, when property stolen of dacoity was obtained from the accused, and it was later discovered that the accused was a dacoit himself, he was held liable for the dacoity and not for the mere receipt of the properties of dacoity.
Where such recovery is immediately after the dacoity, the accused persons shall render themselves liable for conviction both for dacoity and for receipt of property of dacoity. In Lachhman Ram v. State of Orissa [1985 CrLJ 753 SC] it has been observed that in a dacoity case if stolen goods are recovered at the instance of the accused very soon after the occurrence in the presence of the police officers and panch witness who have deposed the same, the accused will be convicted not only under the provisions of Section 412 but also under Section 391. The evidence of the panchas is very material especially where the articles are recovered from a place not accessible to all. In Amar Singh & others v.
State of Madhya Pradesh [AIR 1982 SC 129], the articles were recovered soon after the dacoity had taken place from the possession of the appellants and had been proved to have been stolen in the course of the dacoity, the case clearly fell within the ambit of Section 412 IPC and the appellants could not be convicted on the basis of presumption (under Section 114 of the Evidence Act) under Section 395 (Punishment for dacoity), IPC. The conviction of the appellants was, therefore altered from one under Section 395, IPC to that under Section 412 IPC. The offence under Section 412 is cognizable and warrant should ordinarily, issue in the first instance. It is both non- bailable and non-compoundable and is triable by the Court of Session.