There are three parts of the section and the presence of any one of these would suffice for a liability. First, dishonest or fraudulent concealment or removal of a property, whether of his own or that of any other person, attracts liability. Or, secondly, dishonest or fraudulent assistance in the concealment or removal of property, whether of his own or that of any other person, attracts liability. Or. dishonest release of any demand or claim to which one is entitled attracts liability.
It is interesting to note that while in the first two categories either dishonest or fraudulent intention on the part of the offender has to be proved, in the third category the word ‘fraudulently’ has not been used and dishonest intention alone needs to be proved by way of mental element.
It is also interesting to note that in all the four sections, sections 421 to 424, of this part of the Code the maximum penalty provided is the same, that is to say, two years’ imprisonment, simple or rigorous. This means that as far as the authors of the Code were concerned, for them each of these offences was of equal gravity.
Where a property is legally attached by the court, the possession of the same passes from the owner to the court or its agent, and if the then owner takes the property unlawfully, he takes the law into his hands and thus commits an offence under this section as the dishonest intention on his part is clearly apparent.
But where the accused is not a judgment debtor and has grown crops on his land and contends that the crops could not be legally attached, he does not commit an offence under this section as dishonest intention on his part is absent.
Where, however, an Amin purported to attach the crops belonging to the accused without complying with the requirements of Order XXI, Rule 44 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, subsequent removal of the crops by the accused does not entail liability under this section as the attachment itself was illegal.
Where two medical doctors ran a hospital in partnership and one of them complained against the other that the other was obstructing him to exercise joint possession of the equipments, this section was not attracted because the allegation was not to the effect that the other partner had concealed or removed any equipment of the partnership.
The offence under this section is non-cognizable, bailable and compoundable when permitted by the court trying the case, and is triable by any magistrate.
This part of the chapter on offences against property deals with mischief. It is covered under sections 425 to 440, both inclusive.