Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., addressed a very pertinent question of whether brandishing a revolver during the act of robbery be covered under Section 397 of Penal Code, 1860.

Petition in the present matter was directed against the decision of the lower court for offences under Sections 392, 34 of Penal Code, 1860.

Lower Court held that the offence under Section 397 IPC was not made out against the accused and the matter was sent to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate for framing of charge under Section 392 IPC.

Question for consideration

Whether when an act of robbery is committed by showing a revolver/pistol then does an offence under Section 397 IPC made out or not?

Section 397 IPC:

 397. Robbery, or dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt.—If, at the time of committing robbery or dacoity, the offender uses any deadly weapon, or causes grievous hurt to any person, or attempts to cause death or grievous hurt to any person, the imprisonment with which such offender shall be punished shall not be less than seven years.”

 Court cited the decision of Supreme Court in Phool Kumar v. Delhi Admn., (1975) 1 SCC 797, wherein it was observed that:

“7. If the deadly weapon is actually used by the offender in the commission of the robbery such as in causing grievous hurt, death or the like then it is clearly used…”

High Court opined that in view of the above decision the term ‘use’ would include brandishing the weapon against another person in order to overpower him or to frighten his victim.

Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Bombay High Court in Govind Dipaji More v. State,1955 SCC OnLine Bom 263, by observing that if the knife was used for the purpose of producing such an impression upon the mind of a person that he would be compelled to part with his property, that would amount to ‘using’ the weapon within the meaning of Section 397 IPC.

Elaborating further, the Court observed that the weapon was not recovered in the instant case was no ground for not framing charges under Section 397 IPC.

Non-recovery of weapon cannot be a reason for not framing charges under Section 397 IPC.

 In view of the above discussion, revision petition was allowed with a direction to District and Sessions Judge, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi, to assign the case to its own Court or other Court in accordance with law. [State v. Hassan Ahmed, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4913, decided on 8-11-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Meenakshi Chauhan, APP for the State with SI Surendar Singh, PS South Campus.

For the Respondent:

Rakhi Dubey with Himanshu Gera, Advocates

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