Ingredients: It is the duty of the prosecution in order to bring home the guilt of a person under Section 411, I.P.C. to prove: (1) That the stolen property was in possession of the accused. (2) That some person other than the accused had possession of the property before the accused got possession of it. (3) That the accused had knowledge that the property was stolen property.
The Supreme Court refused to convict the accused in the absence of any charge under Section 411 for an occurrence taking place some 17 years before. Where the ornaments are proved to be stolen property received by the accused he can be convicted, on the basis of presumption under Section 114, Evidence Act, as a receiver of stolen property knowing the same to be stolen. But in absence of any evidence to support conviction under Section 394, I.
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P.C. the conviction under Section 411, I.P.C., only can be upheld and the conviction under Section 394, I.
P.C., cannot be upheld. No general principle can be laid down that if the offence was dacoity, the receiver of the property taken in dacoity must always be guilty under Section 412. It is not correct to say that in a case of dacoity the presumption would always be that the receiver of property taken in dacoity is guilty under Section 412. In most cases of mere possession of such property, the presumption would be the lower offence under Section 411. Ingredients: For conviction under Section 412, I.
P.C., the prosecution must prove (i) that the property in question is stolen property; (ii) that the accused dishonestly receives or retains it; and (iii) he knows or has reason to believe that its possession has been transferred by commission of dacoity. When the only evidence against the accused was that ornaments stolen in dacoity were recovered from the house of the accused and there was no evidence that the accused was seen near the place of dacoity or of joining the gang.
Held that it was safe to convict the accused neither under Section 395 nor under Section 412 but only under Section 411. In respect of an offence under Section 412, I.P.
C., the onus is always upon the prosecution to prove that the goods have been stolen, that they have been found in possession of the accused and the accused knew that they were stolen. The onus never shifts.
Where the Court comes to the conclusion that the explanation offered by the accused might be true, it is the duty of the court to accept it and to acquit the accused. In the instant case the article recovered from the accused was the barrel of gun No. 47942 which had been carried away by the dacoits as a result of dacoity. The barrel bore the number of the gun. Such a barrel of a gun does not normally change in different hands. The nature of the articles in question is such that there was bound to arise suspicion in the mind of the person to whom the article was handed over. No satisfactory explanation has been furnished by the accused for his possession of the barrel.
It cannot be said that the accused acquired the possession of the barrel innocently. Looking to the peculiar nature of the stolen article recovered from the accused, no cogent ground to interfere with the view of the High Court and the Trial Court that a presumption can be drawn against the accused in accordance with illustration (a) to Section 14 of the Indian Evidence Act after the expiry of the period of eight or nine months from the date of dacoity. For convicting an accused under Section 412, the Court must come to the conclusion that the dishonest receiver of the stolen property should be in possession of the same knowing or having reason to believe that its possession had been transferred by the commission of dacoity. Thereafter, when an accused is found in possession of property taken in a dacoity but the Court merely observes that the accused purchased the property knowing it to be stolen property; the accused should be convicted under Section 411 and not under Section 412. Aggravated forms of the offences are as follows and are punishable as shown below: (i) Dishonestly receiving or retaining property stolen in the commission of a dacoity or dishonestly receiving property from a person known to be or about whom there is a reason to believe that he belongs to a gang of dacoits —Imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment upto 10 years and fine (Section 412). (ii) Habitually receiving or dealing in stolen property —punishment same as above (Section 413). (iii) Voluntarily assisting to concealing or disposing of or making away with property which the offender knows or has reason to believe to be stolen property—imprisonment upto three years’ or fine or both (Section 414). Section 411 relates to dishonest receiving of stolen property.
In express terms, it makes it essential to prove that the property in question was stolen property as indicated by the words “whoever dishonestly receives or retains any stolen property”. Section 414 makes a departure by omitting the words “stolen property” and by employing the words “property which the offender knows or has reason to believe to be stolen property”. It would thus appear that so far as Section 414 is concerned it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the property in question was stolen property. It is sufficient if it can be shown that there are reasons to believe that the property is stolen property. It is not necessary to establish from whom the theft was committed, when it was committed, how it was committed and who committed it.