This article is written by Niharika Agrawal from IFIM Law School. It comprises of a complete analysis of Section 427 of the Indian Penal Code which explains the offence of mischief with a special emphasis on the type of mischief where damage is to the amount of fifty rupees.
The offence of mischief is explained under Section 425 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). According to this Section whoever intentionally or with knowledge commits such an act that causes wrongful loss or damage to large public or an individual or causes damage to their property which ultimately diminishes its value or affects the person, commits the offence of mischief. Mischief is one such offence that can be observed in everyday life such as the destruction of essential things like mobile, furniture, land, any other property, that affects the person. To hold an accused liable for this offence, it is important to have the intention behind committing such an act. And such intention should be to cause injury to the person.
Section 425 has a wider scope. It is applicable to both private and public damages. If the essentials of the offence are not satisfied then this Section will not be applicable. Section 426 of IPC states the punishment for the offence of mischief which holds an accused liable for imprisonment, fine, or both. Section 427 to Section 440 explains different aggravated forms of mischief based on the value of the wrongful loss and damage of the property. These sections also include the punishments depending upon the severity of the offence. One such aggravated form of mischief is described under Section 427 of IPC.
This article deals with a detailed analysis of Section 427, its essentials, punishment, features, etc.
Analysis of Section 427 IPC
Section 427 of IPC describes an aggravated form of mischief which is based on the degree of the damage caused. This Section specifically speaks about the damage caused due to mischief to the amount of rupees fifty or above. According to Section 427:
‘Whoever commits mischief and thereby causes loss or damage to the amount of fifty rupees or upwards, shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or both.
Thus, Section 427 is part of Section 425 of IPC that describes the offence of mischief based on the value of rupees fifty or more. As similar to Section 425, also under Section 427, there needs to be an intention to cause damage or wrongful injury to the public or an individual by an accused. The only difference in both Sections is the degree of the damage caused to the aggrieved party. However, Section 427 is not applicable in the cases where the accused has committed an act without an intention to cause or without the knowledge that such action would cause damage to the public or any other person. For example, the removal of tea stalls by an order of executive engineer does not cause offence or mischief. This Section is also not available for the value of damage less than rupees fifty.
It is important to note that, even if the act committed by the accused does not cause loss or damage to the owner of the property, but, had an intention or knowledge that such action may cause loss or damage to the person by damaging his property whether it belongs to him or not, is enough to prove the offence of mischief and held the accused liable for the same. This Section also provides provisions for punishments. The period and the quantum of punishment depend upon the nature of the crime committed. Thus, the one who commits the offence of mischief under the prescribed value would be punishable under Section 427 and not under Section 426.
Essentials ingredients of Section 427 IPC
- The accused must have the intention and knowledge to commit an act that may cause loss and damage to the person or the property.
- There must be loss and damage caused to the person.
- The value of loss and damage must be rupees fifty or upwards.
For a person to be held guilty under Section 427, all the above-mentioned conditions need to be fulfilled.
Illustrations for Section 427 IPC
- A has an intention to cause damage to a sporty bike of his friend B. He asks B for a ride, deliberately drives it at a high speed on an empty road, and dashes it into a banyan tree. Here A has an intention to cause damage to the bike of B and therefore, drives the bike at a high speed which collides into a banyan tree. The value of the bike is more than Rs. 50 and hence A is liable for mischief under Section 427 of IPC.
- A with an intention to cause damage to his neighbour, sets fire to the window of B who is a tenant, due to which his entire window and nearby things get destroyed. Here, as the value of the destroyed things was more than Rs. 50, A is liable for mischief under Section 427 of IPC.
Features of Section 427 IPC
- It is the offence of mischief that intends to cause loss or damage to the amount of Rs.50 or more.
- It is punishable for up to 2 years of imprisonment, with a fine, or both.
- The offence under this Section is non-cognizable, which means the police can arrest the accused without a warrant.
- The offence of mischief under Section 427 is bailable and hence, can be investigated and decided by the authorised Magistrate in the nearby area where the offence is committed.
- The proceedings of the offence can be held in Trial Courts by any Magistrate.
- The offence of mischief under this specific Section is compoundable at the discretion of the person to whom the damage is caused.
Punishment under Section 427 IPC
The offence of mischief under Section 425 is punishable under Section 426 of IPC with imprisonment up to 3 months or with a fine or if needed with both. However, under Section 427 where the loss or damage is caused to the value of Rs. 50 or more, the punishment is imprisonment up to 2 years or fine, or both in some cases. The punishment depends upon the graveness of the crime.
Md. Kausar Ali v. the State of Jharkhand (2020)
In this case, the complainant was the only owner of a piece of land and was also having possession of the same by the virtue of registered sale-deed for valuable consideration. The accused in this case is the State who did not have any title, interest, or possession over the land. However, in March/April 2009, the accused started dumping iron ore, boulders, etc. on the part of the land that belongs to the complainant. Due to this, the value of cultivable land started diminishing which caused him the loss of more than Rs. 10,000. This deprived him of using the agricultural land for cultivation. Thereafter, the complaint was filed under Section 447 and Section 427 of the Indian Penal Code. It was further contended that the present case is a civil dispute and not a criminal dispute.
The Jharkhand High Court, in this case, held that all the necessary conditions of Section 447 and Section 427 are satisfied as the actions of the accused have caused wrongful loss to the land of the complainant, and made his soil unfertile for further use. The Court also clarified that though the case is related to land, it will be covered under criminal law and not under civil law as all the ingredients of the crimes are satisfied in this case.
Kashiben Chhaganbhai Koli v. State of Gujarat (2008)
In this case, the original accused was the owner of the agricultural land. She decided to sell the same land to the complainant for Rs. 1,45,000/-. Therefore, the complainant initially paid a sum of Rs. 40,000 through a cheque followed by Rs. 60,000/-. After paying the amount the complainant was given possession of the land. The complainant was cultivating the land and started a sugarcane plantation. After taking one crop of sugarcane, he left the land open awaiting for re-growth of the sugarcane plant. However, in January 1995, the accused suddenly and illegally entered into the land and tilled the land through tractors which ultimately caused substantial loss of crop of the complainant. In this case, the accused used derogatory words against the complainant.
The Gujarat High Court held the accused liable for the offence under Section 427 and Section 3 (i) (v) of the Atrocities Act (1989). According to the Court, the accused destroyed the sugarcane crops of the complainant through a tractor and hence was guilty of the same.
From the above analysis, it can be concluded that the offence of mischief covers all the aggravated forms of mischief and their respective punishments. Section 427 is also one of the important provisions under the offence of mischief. It includes all the small and grave acts of the accused and punishes him according to the value of the damage caused due to him. The nature of offence under this Section is very feasible as it is bailable and compoundable at the discretion of the aggrieved party. This Section has protected all the individuals and the public at large from such loss and damage.
- PSA Pillai, Criminal Law, 14th edition.
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