Ayushi Singhal
Asked September 21, 2014

Can a corpse be a subject matter of the offence of theft?

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Can a corpse be a subject matter of the offence of theft?

Answer 1

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Pragya Sharma
The general rule is that there cannot be offence of theft for taking away a dead corpse. This was the holding in one of the rarest case on this issue – in Emperor v. Ramadhin [1]. The reasoning given by court was that human bodies cannot be owned and that’s why human corpse cannot be thus qualified as a property. [2] This is the reason why human corpses, which are in the form of anatomical specimen, such as those found in museums and owned by them (mummies), are personal property and stealing of such human corpses would amount to theft under Sections 378 and 379 of IPC. Similarly, stealing of buried human corpses from burial grounds would amount to theft under Section 297 of IPC because the same are property of executors (owners in this case) of deceased who bury these [3]. [1] All 1902 25. ; See also Ma Kin & Ors. v.U. Ba and Ors, AIR 1930 Rangoon 143a. [2] A property has to be of a status of being able to be owned so as to qualify to be a ‘corporeal property’ – which qualifies a property to be moveable in character as per Section 22 of IPC that defines ‘moveable property’. [3]. P.S.A. Pillai, Criminal Law, (2012) 727.
Agree Comment 0 Agrees about 2 years ago

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