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Report No. 29

Category 7.-Theft and Misappropriation of Public Property and Funds

156. Theft and misappropriation of public property and funds (Category 7).-The seventh category of the offences mentioned by the Santhanam Committee is-"Theft and misappropriation of public property and funds".

The existing provisions as to these offences are listed separately1. The offences are mainly dealt with

(i) in the Indian Penal Code;

(ii) in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947; and

(iii) in special enactments relating to particular subjects.

Transfer to the Indian Penal Code of the provisions contained in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, is not practicable, as the Act contains its own rules of evidence and procedure2.

1. See Appendix 7.

2. See sections 3, 4, 5, 5A and 6, Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947.

157. Transfer not feasible.-Transfer to the Indian Penal Code of the provisions of other special enactments under this category does not appear to be feasible, as the provisions are a part of the integrated schemes of the particular enactments.

158. Addition of new provisions.-The addition of new offences under this category is a matter which need not be considered until any deficiency in the existing provisions is brought to notice.

159. Provision proposed for theft of public property.-We, however, think that the punishment for the theft of public property should be enhanced, so as to provide a more stringent check on such thefts. We propose an amendment to the Indian Penal Code on the subject1. Theft is punishable under the Indian Penal Code (section 379), and aggravated forms thereof have also been dealt with in the same Code (sections 380, 381). It would not, therefore, be against the scheme of that Code to place the proposed provision in that Code2.

1. See Appendix 31, section 379A, I.P.C. (Proposed).

2. See also para. 160, infra.

160. As regards misappropriation of public property, the offence, if committed by a public servant, would, in most cases, fall under section 409, Indian Penal Code (Criminal breach of trust by a public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent). The maximum punishment for that offence is imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description upto ten years, and also fine, which seems to be sufficiently deterrent. We do not, therefore, propose any increase in the punishment.

161. Points suggested in comments.-One of the comments received by us also states, that the offence of theft (or misappropriation) of public property is much graver than the same offence in respect of property of an individual or company, and should be adequately punished.



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