Robbery and Dacoity

Difference between Dacoity and Robbery

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Every crime is always against society, not against any individual. That we have been taught and for that reason, the laws are in existence. We have seen in India despite the laws there has been a high crime rate persisting in society. Robbery in Indian penal code is defined as unlawfully taking away of another’s personal property in possession of his own against his will by the use of force or fear.

What is Robbery?

390. Robbery.—In all robbery there is either theft or extortion.

When theft is robbery.—Theft is “robbery” if, in order to the committing of the theft, or in

committing the theft, or in carrying away or attempting to carry away property obtained by the theft, the offender, for that end voluntarily causes or attempts to cause to any person death or hurt or wrongful restraint, or fear of instant death or of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint.

When extortion is robbery.—Extortion is “robbery” if the offender, at the time of committing the extortion, is in the presence of the person put in fear, and commits the extortion by putting that person in fear of instant death, of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint to that person or to some other person, and, by so putting in fear, induces the person so put in fear then and there to deliver up the thing extorted.

Explanation.—The offender is said to be present if he is sufficiently near to put the other person in fear of instant death, of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint.

On reading the section of robbery what is inferred is what the offence of robbery constitutes rather than what actually robbery is.

Essentials Of Robbery

  1. There has to be the commission of either theft 378 under section or extortion under Section 383 of IPC.
  2. The offence of theft will be converted into a robbery when it will voluntarily cause or attempt to cause any person death or hurt or wrongful restraint, or fear of instant death or of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint.
  3. The offence of extortion will be converted into a robbery when it will put that person in fear and commits the extortion by putting that person in fear of instant death, of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint to that person or to some other person.

The punishment for robbery is defined under section 392 of IPC: –

Punishment for robbery.—The imprisonment has been divided into two categories, first for those who commit robbery not on the highways than in that case the imprisonment is rigorous whose term can be extended upto to 10 years and secondly for those who commit robbery on the highways between sunset and sunrise in that case for them the term is extended to fourteen years and shall also be liable to fine.

What is Dacoity?

The offence of dacoity is defined under Section 391 of IPC which states that When five or more persons conjointly commit or attempt to commit a robbery, or where the whole number of persons conjointly committing or attempting to commit a robbery, and persons present and aiding such commission or attempt, amount to five or more, every person so committing, attempting or aiding, is said to commit “dacoity”. 

Consequently, the punishment for dacoity is under section 395 of which states as Whoever commits dacoity shall be punished with 1[imprisonment for life], or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. 

Essentials Of Dacoity

  1. The offence of dacoity is committed only when it involves at least five or more persons committing the offence of robbery.
  2. The offence must be committed conjointly or together by them.

Difference Between Robbery and Dacoity

Robbery constitutes either theft or extortion.Dacoity constitutes robbery.
Robbery can be committed by one person.Dacoity can be committed by at least five persons or more.
Robbery includes elements either fear only or can use force. Dacoity does not include the element of fear rather there is necessarily use of force.
The act if done by more than one person then it need not to be done conjointly.The act must be done conjointly by all.
The offence of robbery is less serious as compared to dacoity.The offence of dacoity is more serious as more terror is caused.
The offence is triable by the magistrate of the first class.The offence is triable by the court of session.

Some Landmark Judgments on Dacoity and Robbery

Saktu v. the State of U.P.1 

The Supreme Court held that it is necessary to establish that more than five persons are essential to commit the dacoity, the fact that conviction of all of them is not possible for want of evidence, the remaining accused can be convicted even if the number of them is less than five.

Ram Baran v. Emperor2

In this case, a mob attacked a Muslim man on account of hurting religious sentiments and then deprive him of his cattle. The court held it a case of dacoity rather than robbery not amounting to murder. 

State of Maharashtra v. Joseph Mingel3

In this case the accused were charged under as many as 12 sections viz. 143 I.P.C., 144 I.P.C., 147 I.P.C., 148 I.P.C. 324 r/w 149 I.P.C. (two separate counts) 323 r/w 149 I.P.C., 337 r/w 149 I.P.C., 450 I.P.C. 436 r/w 149 I.P.C. and 395 I.P.C. The court took cognizance and elaborately analyzed every section and commented that to convict any accused under robbery it is essential that the offence fulfils all the essential ingredients of the section laid down in IPC otherwise the section would not be applicable.

KalikaTiwari v. State of Bihar4 

Sessions court convicted 12 of the accused under section 396 and 120-B of the Indian penal code and sentenced them to imprisonment for life. (some of them were convicted under Section 27 of the Arms Act also.) High Court of Patna while confirming the aforesaid conviction and sentence added Section 302 with the aid of Section 34 of Indian penal Code also while disposing of the appeals filed before it. The court set aside the conviction and sentence of Kalika Tiwari, Sri Ram Rai and Maloo Pal and they were acquitted. But appeals regarding the remaining appellants would stand dismissed. The court observed that it is not necessary for the prosecution in such a case to establish either any common intention envisaged in section 34 or common object contemplated in section 149 of IPC. If one of the dacoits committed murder during the commission of dacoity the tentacles of section 396 would prance to envelop all the dacoits huddled within its penal circumference and then it would be immaterial that the other dacoits did not share the intention with that person who committed murder.

Sikander  Kumar  v.  State5

The case involves the appeal before the Delhi High Court against the impugned order of learned Additional Session Judge, Delhi which prosecuted two young boys for the charges of robbery against them but the decision was challenged in the Delhi High Court. The facts of the case are that the two appellants pointed a knife at the complainant and took Rs. 50/- and drove away from the auto of the complainant. Next day the accused were arrested in Nakabandi in the presence of the complainant. One independent witness turned hostile. The High Court while allowing the appeal stated that in the facts and circumstances of this case, the appellant is entitled to get the benefit of the doubt. Accordingly, I set aside the impugned judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge. The appellant is acquitted of the aforesaid charges, and his bail bonds shall stand cancelled. As the defence fails to establish the offence and no testimony of the witness was credible enough. 

Ezhil vs. State of Tamil Nadu6 

Ezhil, Saravanan and Mohammed Iqbal, are the appellants before the Supreme Court. They have been charged for offences under Sections 364, 392 and 302 read with Section 34 IPC, and section 120B of the Indian Penal Code. The court pronounced that a grave act of depravity, to kill an innocent person only for the purpose of enriching themselves of the fortunes brought by the deceased, who unaware of their diabolical scheme got lured into their company for safe travel to his destination, deserves to be dealt with an iron hand and the imposition of 10 years rigorous imprisonment for the offence of robbery under section 392 IPC and rigorous imprisonment for life for the offence of murder under section 302 IPC cannot be considered to be either harsh or so grossly disproportionate as to shock the conscience of this court.

J. Narayan Prasad v. State of M.P.7 

The hon’ble apex court observed that it is unlikely that the police will plant these ornaments so as to implicate these accused persons. Some delay in identification parade or identification of property is likely in cases of dacoity at midnight and the recovery of the ornaments. The delay is natural in such cases, it is not fatal as to throw the prosecution case outright. The reasoning given by the trial court was solely based on a mechanical way and threw the prosecution case. Delay in such cases is not unusual.


Nevertheless, it is important to understand the basic differences between the robbery and dacoity as it seems similar but actually are different. The classification of the offence is necessary as reiterated by certain judgements by courts and the most important thing is that the gravity of the offence in dacoity is far greater than the gravity of the offence in robbery and so the punishment varies accordingly. 


1.  (AIR 1973 SC 760)

2.  1983 15 ALL 299

3.  1997(1) bom cr lj 362

4.  (1997 SC 445 SCC)

5.  1998  (3)  Crimes  69  Delhi HC

6.  J.T 2002(4) SC 375

7.  (AIR 2006 SC 204)


Madhav Gupta

Student, Galgotias University

Passionate law student and research analyst, acquiring skills in corporate law. For any Clarifications, feedback, and suggestion, you can reach him at

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