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Theft and extortion are two types of crimes related to taking someone else’s property without their permission. Theft occurs when someone unlawfully takes another person’s belongings with the intention of permanently depriving them of it. It could involve stealing someone’s purse, cell phone, or any valuable item. On the other hand, extortion happens when a person uses threats, coercion, or intimidation دھمکیاں to obtain money, property, or favours from someone else. For instance, if someone threatens to harm your family if you don’t give them money, that would be considered extortion. We can say that The offence of extortion occupies a middle place between theft and robbery.
Following are the relevant provisions of P.P.C
- Section 378 and 379 for theft
- Section 383 and 384 for Extortion
THEFT U/S 378 :
According to Section 378 of the Pakistan Penal Code, theft is defined as follows:
“Whoever, intending to take dishonestly any movable property out of the possession of any person without that person’s consent, moves that property in order to such taking, is said to commit theft.”
This definition can be broken down into the following elements:
- Dishonest intention: The person must have the intention to take someone else’s movable property dishonestly. Dishonesty refers to the intention to cause wrongful gain to oneself or wrongful loss to another.
- Movable property: Theft applies to movable property, which includes any property that can be physically moved, such as money, jewelry, electronic devices, or any other valuable items.
- Without consent: The property must be taken without the consent of the person who is in possession of it. Consent can be express or implied, and if the person has given consent under certain conditions and those conditions are violated, it may still constitute theft.
- Act of moving property: The person must move the property in order to take it. It can be moving the property physically or causing it to move through some action or manipulation.
Examples of theft under Section 378 of the Pakistan Penal Code could include:
- A person steals a wallet from another person’s pocket without their knowledge or consent.
- Someone breaks into a house and takes valuable jewelry from a drawer without the owner’s permission.
- A person picks up a mobile phone left unattended on a table and walks away with it.
- A customer intentionally conceals an item in his/her bag while pretending to be watching other goods and walks out of the store without paying for it.
- A person hacks into someone’s online banking account and transfers funds from the account to their own without the account holder’s permission.
Punishment of Theft U/S 379:
Under Section 379 of the Pakistan Penal Code, the punishment for theft is described as follows:
“Whoever commits theft shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”
The punishment for theft as per Section 379 is a combination of imprisonment and/or a fine. Here are the key aspects of the punishment:
- Imprisonment: The convicted individual can be sentenced to imprisonment for a term that can extend up to three years. The actual duration of the imprisonment can vary depending on the circumstances of the case, the value of the stolen property, the criminal history of the offender, and other relevant factors considered by the court during sentencing.
- Fine: In addition to or instead of imprisonment, the court may impose a monetary fine upon the convicted individual. The amount of the fine is at the discretion of the court and may vary based on the severity of the offense, the value of the stolen property, and the financial circumstances of the offender.
Case Law (2000 MLD 651)
It was held that person found guilty of offence of theft u/s 397 cannot Simultaneously be convicted u/s 411 of P.P.C
EXTORTION U/S 383:
According to Section 383 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), extortion is defined as follows:
“Whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that person, or to any other, and thereby dishonestly induces the person so put in fear to deliver to any person any property or valuable security or anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable security, commits ‘extortion’.”
In simpler terms, extortion occurs when a person intentionally instills fear in someone else and uses that fear to compel the victim to hand over property, valuable security, or anything of value to another person.
Here are a few examples to illustrate extortion under Section 383 of the Pakistan Penal Code:
- Threatening Violence for Money: A person threatens to harm someone or their family members if they do not pay a certain amount of money. The victim, fearing for their safety, complies and hands over the requested sum.
- Protection Racket: A criminal gang approaches a local business owner and demands a regular payment of money in exchange for “protection” from potential harm or damage to their business. The fear of harm or property damage compels the business owner to pay the protection money.
- Blackmail: Someone obtains sensitive or incriminating قابل اعتراض information about another person and threatens to expose it unless the victim pays a certain amount of money. The victim, fearing the potential consequences of the information being made public, agrees to pay the blackmailer.
- Kidnapping for Ransom تاوان: Kidnappers abduct an individual and demand a significant sum of money from their family or acquaintances جاننے والے in exchange for the safe release of the victim. The fear of harm to the kidnapped person motivates the payment of the ransom.
Punishment For Extortion U/Sec 384:
Whoever commits extortion shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEFT AND EXTORTION
Here is main differences between theft and extortion.
|Type of Difference||Theft||Extortion|
|Nature of the Act||Theft involves the unlawful taking of someone else’s property without their consent and with the intention to permanently deprive them of it. The act of theft typically occurs in secret or without the victim’s knowledge.||Extortion involves obtaining property, valuable security, or any other item of value from someone by intentionally instilling fear in them. It requires the use of threats, coercion, or intimidation to compel the victim to give up their property or valuable possessions.|
|Consent||In theft, the perpetrator مجرم takes someone else’s property without their consent. The owner of the property does not willingly transfer ownership or possession to the thief.||In extortion, the victim is compelled to give up their property or valuables against their will due to fear or intimidation induced by the offender. Although the victim may hand over their possessions, it is not done willingly but under duress.|
|Intent||The intention of the thief in a theft case is to permanently deprive the owner of their property. The thief does not seek to return the stolen items to the owner.||The intent of the extortionist is to obtain the victim’s property or valuables by instilling fear or coercion. The offender may not necessarily seek to permanently retain the property but may use it as leverage for personal gain, concessions, or as a means of control.|
|Act of Taking||In theft, the act of taking occurs without the knowledge or consent of the owner. The thief seizes the property and gains control over it without the owner’s permission.||In extortion, the offender does not physically take possession of the property or valuables themselves. Instead, they use threats or coercion to force the victim to surrender their property willingly.|
|Punishment||The punishment for theft is prescribed under specific sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and may vary depending on the value of the stolen property. It can range from imprisonment for a specified period and/or a fine.||Extortion is also a criminal offense under the PPC. The punishment for extortion may include imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or a fine, or both.|
While both theft and extortion involve the unlawful taking of someone’s property, the key distinction lies in the use of fear, threats, or coercion in extortion cases, whereas theft involves taking property without the owner’s consent. The specific circumstances of each case will determine whether it falls under theft or extortion.