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Criminal Trespass

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Black’s Law Dictionary defines trespassing as an unlawful act committed against the person or property of another especially, wrongful entry on another's real property. Section 441 contained in Chapter XVII of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) deals with criminal trespass.

Section 441 of IPC

  • This Section deals with the offence of criminal trespass.
  • It states that whoever enters into or upon property in the possession of another with intent to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy any person in possession of such property, or having lawfully entered into or upon such property, unlawfully remains there with intent thereby to intimidate, insult or annoy any such person, or with intent to commit an offence, is said to commit criminal trespass.
  • The object of making criminal trespass as an offence is to ensure that people can enjoy their private property without any kind of interruption from outsiders.
  • The use of criminal force is not an essential element under this Section.
  • Illustration:
    • X unlawfully and without Y’s permission enters Y’s house to steal his grandfather’s antique watch, X would be liable for theft as well as criminal trespass.

Essential Elements of Criminal Trespass

  • Entering or remaining unlawfully on real property owned by another.
  • If entry is lawful, continuing unlawfully on such property.
  • Such entry or unlawful remaining must be done with intent.
  • Commit an offence.
  • Intimidate the owner of the property.

Aggravated Forms of Criminal Trespass

  • House Trespass:
    • As per Section 442 of IPC, whoever commits criminal trespass by entering into or remaining in any building, tent or vessel used as a human dwelling or any building used as a place for worship, or as a place for the custody of property, is said to commit house-trespass.
  • Lurking house-trespass:
    • As per Section 443 of IPC, whoever commits house-trespass having taken precautions to conceal such house-trespass from some person who has a right to exclude or eject the trespasser from the building, tent or vessel which is the subject of the trespass, is said to commit lurking house-trespass.
  • Lurking house-trespass by night:
    • As per Section 444 of IPC, whoever commits lurking house-trespass after sunset and before sunrise, is said to commit lurking house-trespass by night.
  • House-breaking:
    • House-breaking denotes a forcible intrusion into someone's home, it is another aggravating kind of house trespass. Housebreaking can happen in six different ways, according to Section 445 of the IPC:
      • Through a passage made by the intruder himself.
      • Through any passage not used by anyone else.
      • Through any passage opened for the purpose of committing housebreaking but not intended to be open.
      • By opening any lock.
      • By using criminal force at either the entrance or the exit.
      • By entering or leaving any passage fastened together.
  • House-breaking by night:
    • As per Section 446 of IPC, whoever commits house-breaking after sunset and before sunrise, is said to commit house-breaking by night.

Punishment for Criminal Trespass

  • Section 447 of IPC deals with the punishment for criminal trespass.
  • It states that whoever commits criminal trespass shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.