Every individual has the right to enjoy their property without any interference and any act which abridges this right due to trespass is an offence. Trespass in simple language means entering one’s premises without express or implied permission or right. It is a civil wrong.
This article will focus on house trespass, the punishment for house trespass, how it is different from criminal trespass and is the offence under Section 448 is bailable and compoundable.
Section 448 IPC – What is house trespass?
Section 442 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) states that if a person indulges in criminal trespass by arriving into, staying in any building, vessel, or tent which is used as a human dwelling, place of worship, or a place used for the custody of property, then such person is said to have committed a house-trespass. Additionally, the mere indication that any part of the criminal trespasser’s body has entered the property is sufficient to constitute an offence of house trespass. House trespass is one of the aggravated forms of criminal trespass.
Essential ingredients of house trespass
To constitute an offence of house trespass there should be the following essential ingredients –
- The person should commit or indulge in criminal trespass
- Such criminal trespass should be committed by entering into or staying in any building;
- The property can be any building, vessel, or tent;
- Such a building can be used either for human dwelling, a place of worship, or a place for storing property.
- The entry should be illegal, if the person has entered with permission then, it does not constitute an offence. (Rajmogali Ashayya Arkal and Others Vs Govind Hanumantu Nandlal and Anr., 1997)
- The person may enter the property lawfully but remains there unlawfully.
How is it different from criminal trespass?
Criminal trespass has been provided under Section 441 of IPC. It states that if a person either lawfully or unlawfully enters into or upon the property which is in possession of another person with the intention of committing an offence or to intimidate, annoy or insult any person who possesses the property, then such person commits criminal trespass.
The essential ingredient that distinguishes house trespass from criminal trespass is the “intent” to commit an offence. In house trespass, the intention to commit an offence is not necessary, whereas, in criminal trespass, the intention should be established.
What are sections 447 (punishment for criminal trespass) and 448 (punishment for house trespass)?
As per Section 447 IPC, any person who commits criminal trespass then such person will be punished with up to three months of imprisonment and/or a fine of 500 rupees.
As per Section 448 of IPC, any person who commits house trespass then such person will be liable for imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to one thousand rupees.
What is the punishment for house trespass?
Punishment for the offence of house trespass varies depending on the intensity of the crime.
Section 449 of the IPC state that if a person commits house trespass to commit an offence that is punishable by death, then such person will be liable for imprisonment for life or up to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and with a fine. Here, the person will be liable even if they are unable to complete the offence, the word ‘in order to’, clearly indicates that the ‘purpose’ in committing an offence of the house-trespass is the commission of an offence which is punishable with death, then Section 449 of IPC will be applied. So, if a person commits house trespass to commit theft but, is unable to commit theft then such a person will be liable under Section 449 of IPC.
Section 450 of IPC states that if a person commits house trespass to commit an offence that is punishable with imprisonment for life then, such person will be liable for imprisonment of either description for a term of up to ten years and with a fine.
Section 451 of IPC states that if a person commits house trespass to commit an offence which is punishable by imprisonment, then, such person will be liable for imprisonment of either description for a term of up to two years and with a fine. However, if a person intends to commit theft then, the term of imprisonment may extend to seven years.
Section 452 of IPC states that if a person commits house trespass after planning for causing or intimidating to cause hurt, assault or wrongful restrain to any person, then such person will be liable to imprisonment of either description up to seven years and/or fine.
In Moreshwar Vs the State of Maharashtra and Another, 2005 in this case, the Complainant was the tenant of the Appellant. The Appellant committed house trespass and tried to outrage the modesty of the Complainant. The court had held that Section 452 of IPC cannot be applied in this case, as the Appellant had entered the premises for committing a sexual offence not for causing any hurt, assault, or wrongful restraint. Therefore, the Appellant will be liable for house trespass under Section 451 of IPC and not Section 452.
Is section 448 bailable?
Section 448 is a bailable, cognizable offence triable by any Magistrate and is compoundable by the person who has possession of the trespassed property.
If a person commits criminal trespass by getting into or remaining on the property of another person then such person is said to have committed house trespass. Such property can be in any form namely, a building, vessel, or tent. The building can be used for storing a property, for worship, or for human dwelling. The property being trespassed should be in possession of the person against whom the offence is committed. It is bailable, cognizable, and compoundable by the person against whom the offence of house trespass is committed and is triable by the Magistrate. House trespass is one of the aggravated forms of criminal trespass. A person guilty of house trespass will be punished depending on the nature of the offence committed. Section 448 of the IPC provides that if a person commits house trespass, then such person will be punished with imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to one thousand rupees.