Mere Breach of a Promise – Does Not Constitute the Offence of Criminal Breach of Trust

The law clearly recognizes a difference between simple payment/investment of money and entrustment of money or property. A mere breach of a promise, agreement or contract does not, ipso facto, constitute the offence of the criminal breach of trust contained in Section 405 Indian Penal Code without there being a clear case of entrustment.         In the context of contracts, the distinction between mere breach of contract and cheating would depend upon the fraudulent inducement and mens rea. The mere inability of a party to return the loan amount cannot give rise to a criminal prosecution for cheating unless fraudulent or dishonest intention is shown right at the beginning of the transaction, as it is this mens rea which is the crux of the offence. The legislature intended to criminalise only those breaches which are accompanied by fraudulent, dishonest or deceptive inducements, which resulted in involuntary and inefficient transfers, under Section 415 Indian Penal Code. Satishchandra Ratanlal Shah v. State of Gujarat, (2019) 9 SCC 148.

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