Section 412 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!
Like the preceding section, this section also punishes both dishonestly receiving stolen property and dishonestly retaining stolen property. The accused must either know or have reason to believe that the possession of the property was transferred by the commission of dacoity. Or, in the alternative, he must dishonestly receive the property from such a person whom he either knows or has reason to believe to belong or to have belonged, to a gang of dacoits, and he must also know or have reason to believe that the property was a stolen property.
The offence under this section is very serious as is clear from the quantum of punishment prescribed. There is no provision of simple imprisonment under this section. The use of the alternative expressions shows that the prosecution must establish that the accused had dishonestly received stolen properly, or if he did not receive the same dishonestly he dishonestly retained it.
Where the accused gave false evidence with respect to a dacoity committed near his home and claimed some ornaments as his own even though these were looted during the dacoity, it was held that a presumption could be drawn that the accused knew or had reason to believe that the ornaments came to his possession by dacoity.
Where the accused belonged to a village near which in another village a dacoity was committed, and within three days after the dacoity looted property was found in possession of the accused, he could be convicted under section 412. But where the accused did not know that a dacoity was committed, and while paying an advance money for buying such property he had no reason to believe that the property for the purchase of which he was paying an advance was property obtained by dacoity, the accused could not be convicted under this section.
However, where the articles during a dacoity were found very soon thereafter in possession of the accused who had knowledge that these were such articles, the accused was held guilty under this section. Where even though the prosecution witnesses failed to identify the accused in the identification parade but the stolen articles were recovered at the instance of the accused, section 412 is attracted, and so also when articles lost in a dacoity were found at the instance of the accused in presence of police officers and other witnesses. However, a person who is convicted of dacoity cannot further be convicted under section 412 for possessing property obtained as a consequence of the dacoity.
The offence under section 412 is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by court of session.