• Legis Scriptor

Case analysis : K.N. Mehra vs. State of Rajasthan

Authored By : Sejal Sharma


This case mainly deals with section 378 of the IPC which states that whoever with the dishonest intention takes away any movable property from the others possession without the permission is said to commit the offence of the theft. Here the case is about the 2 cadets who are undergoing in their training in the IAF at Jodhpur and one day they took away the aircraft without the permission of the authority and landed within the territory of the Pakistan. So, here it is discussed that whether it is intentional or not.


Aircraft ; Theft ; Indian Air Force ; Dishonest intention ; Sec 378, Indian Penal Code 1860

Equivalent citation:

AIR 1957 SC 369

Petitioner :

K.N. Mehra

Advocates for petitioner:

Adv. Jai Gopal Sethi and Adv. B.S. Narula

Respondent :

The State of Rajasthan

Advocates for the respondent:

Adv. R. Ganpathy Iyer, Adv. Porus A. Mehta and Adv. B.H. Dhebar

Name of the Bench:

Honorable Justice Jagannadhadas B. Imam, Justice Syed Jaffer Menon and Justice P. Govinda.

In the court of

Honorable Supreme Court of India

Date of Judgment:



Anyone to be held liable under the section 378 of IPC I.e., the crime of theft is depending upon the dishonest intention of the person. If the person has no dishonest intention then he is also not liable for the theft or may be punishable with less punishment according to the gravity of the offence and the dishonest intention.

Background of the case-

This was under the jurisdiction of the Court of Session judge at the Jodhpur in criminal appeal number 31 of 1953. The judgment of the Court of Session was given on 18 May 1953 and the appeal from this order was gone to the High Court of Rajasthan in the criminal revision no. 88 of 1953. Then the Special Leave Petition from the High court judgment was appealed in the Supreme Court.

Facts of the case-

The K.N. Mehra and the M.Z. Phillips both were cadets on training in the Indian Air Force Academy, Jodhpur. The Phillips was discharged from the academy on the ground of misconduct done by him on 13 May 1952. And the Mehra was receiving the training of the Navigator. And his duty is to guide the pilot with the help of the instruments and the maps. But however the Philips knew the flying. Mehra as a part of training have to go by the Dakota with the Om Prakash. And they have to fly only 20 miles around the aerodrome. But the Philips and the Mehra took the off not to the Dakota but with the Harward H.T. 822. And they went there at 5A.M. and without the authorization and performing any formalities. In the meanwhile they lost the way and land the plane in the fields which is in the territory of the Pakistan and called the High Commissioner of India at the Karachi for help who arrange them to go the Delhi and the Harward to the Jodhpur. At Delhi they both were arrested.

Issues framed:-

1.) Whether this flight to Pakistan territory is intentional or not?

2.) Whether this offence comes within the category of section 378 of the IPC?

Judgment of the case-

The learned counsel on behalf of the appellant said that they are the young cadets of 22 years old and they do not take any of the belongings of the IAF with them. As they are the cadets they have the right to take way the aircraft. The flight to the Pakistan was not intentional they want to turn back to the Jodhpur but as the weather was not clear and the petrol is near the exhaustion. They forcibly have to land in the fields which they later known as the territory of the Pakistan.

Whereas the learned counsel on behalf of the respondent says that they have allotted the Dakota plane but took off the Harward plane between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. which is before the prescribed time. Mehra had to take the flight with the Om Prakash but took with the Philips. A form no. 700 has to be filled before taking off but they didn’t do this. They do not follow any formalities. And the limit to fly is 20 miles within aero dome, so why they go beyond the 100 miles from Indo Pakistan border. There was an evidence to show that Mehra was not satisfied with his work and seeking the employment in the Pakistan.

The Supreme Court upheld the view of the respondent and modified the punishment given by trial court.

The trial court convicted both of them under section 378 of the IPC and pronounces the punishment under the section 379 of IPC. They were sentenced to simple imprisonment for the 18 months and a fine of Rs.750/- . And in default of payment they have to undergo the 4 months simple imprisonment.

As the appellant already served a sentence of 11 months and 27 days. So, for the interest of justice, the Supreme Court states that they have undergo for the punishment of the remaining term and in default of fine. They reduce the period of K.N. Mehra for the time duration which is already spent in the jail.

Therefore the SC dismissed the appeal and the new modified sentenced shall prevail.


1.) Indiankanoon,