Understanding Section 406 IPC: A Comprehensive Exploration through Real-life Examples

Understanding Section 406 IPC: A Comprehensive Exploration through Real-life Examples

  • Posted: Feb 07, 2024
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The Indian Penal Code (IPC) is a comprehensive legal document that governs criminal offenses in India. Among its various sections, Section 406 holds significance as it deals with criminal breach of trust. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of Section 406 IPC, examining its provisions and implications through real-life examples.

Section 406 IPC: An Overview

Section 406 of the IPC defines the offense of criminal breach of trust. It states that whoever commits criminal breach of trust shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term that may extend to three years, or with a fine, or with both.

Criminal breach of trust involves the act of misappropriating or converting to one’s own use any property entrusted to an individual in a fiduciary capacity. The essence of this offense lies in the betrayal of trust, where the person entrusted with property intentionally violates that trust for personal gain.

Real-life Example 1: Employee Embezzlement

Consider the case of a company executive responsible for managing the company’s funds. This executive, entrusted with the task of handling financial transactions on behalf of the company, decides to embezzle a significant amount of money for personal use.

In this scenario, the executive’s actions would fall under Section 406 IPC, as they involve the criminal breach of trust. The company has entrusted the executive with its funds in a fiduciary capacity, and the deliberate misappropriation of these funds for personal gain constitutes a breach of trust.

Real-life Example 2: Financial Advisor’s Betrayal

A financial advisor managing the investments of multiple clients decides to divert a portion of the invested funds into a personal account without the clients’ knowledge or consent. This act constitutes a criminal breach of trust as the financial advisor is in a fiduciary relationship with the clients and has betrayed their trust by misusing the entrusted funds.

Elements of Criminal Breach of Trust:

To understand the application of Section 406 IPC, it is crucial to examine its essential elements:

  1. Entrustment: There must be an entrustment of property, assets, or authority in a fiduciary capacity. This entrustment could be explicit or implicit, depending on the circumstances.
  2. Misappropriation: The accused must have misappropriated or converted the entrusted property for their own use or for the use of someone other than the owner. This involves a wrongful and dishonest act.
  3. Breach of Trust: The act must result in a breach of trust, where the accused intentionally violates the confidence reposed in them by the owner of the property. The breach can be in the form of wrongful gain for the accused or wrongful loss to the owner.

Real-life Example 3: Legal Representative’s Misuse

An attorney entrusted with handling a client’s funds for a specific purpose, such as settling a legal matter, diverts a portion of the funds for personal expenses. The attorney’s actions would be considered a criminal breach of trust under Section 406 IPC. The legal representative is in a fiduciary relationship with the client, and the misuse of entrusted funds for personal gain violates the trust placed in them.

Punishment under Section 406 IPC:

Section 406 IPC prescribes the punishment for criminal breach of trust. The punishment can include imprisonment for a term extending up to three years, a fine, or both. The severity of the punishment may vary based on factors such as the nature and extent of the breach, the amount involved, and the impact on the victim.

Legal Proceedings and Defenses:

When a person is charged under Section 406 IPC, legal proceedings are initiated. The accused may present various defenses to mitigate the charges. Some common defenses include lack of intention to commit the breach of trust, absence of dishonesty, or a genuine misunderstanding of the terms of the entrustment.

Real-life Example 4: Property Manager’s Innocence

A property manager entrusted with collecting rent from tenants and remitting it to the property owner is accused of misappropriating the rent money. However, the property manager argues that they genuinely believed they had the owner’s consent to use a portion of the rent for property maintenance. In such a case, the defense may revolve around the absence of dishonest intent and a genuine misunderstanding of the terms of the entrustment.


Section 406 IPC plays a crucial role in safeguarding the trust and confidence that individuals place in others when entrusting them with property, funds, or responsibilities. Real-life examples illustrate the diverse scenarios in which criminal breach of trust can occur, ranging from financial mismanagement to legal representation and property management.

Understanding the elements of criminal breach of trust and the associated legal consequences is essential for individuals in fiduciary roles and for those seeking justice in cases involving the betrayal of trust. As society evolves, the application of Section 406 IPC continues to be relevant in addressing emerging challenges related to trust and accountability in various spheres of life.

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