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Originally, the right to property was also included in the Fundamental Rights of Constitution of India; however, the Forty-fourth Amendment, passed in 1978, revised the status of property rights by stating that "No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law." [1]It is the States incumbent duty to ensure the security of life and property of all its citizens.  What the State cannot ensure, it can insure, what it cannot insure, it can assure. This paper aims at understanding the nitty-gritty of the protection of property prevailing in India, involvement of law enforcing machinery in the process and the innovative role of Government in building confidence in the minds of millions of citizens of India. The scope of the study is restricted to Tamil Nadu, one of the states of India.


Protection of the Life and Properties of Citizens


The Constitution of India envisages the protection of the life and properties of its citizens as an important obligation of the State.  In pursuance of this objective, the law enforcing machinery like Police Department performs its functions to protect the life and properties of its citizens from criminal activities. 

         It is impossible for the police personnel to detect all the cases or to recover all of the stolen properties due to either utilization of the property or consumption of the property or destruction of the property or utilization of the money stolen. Globally, the obligation of the Government with respect to stolen property stops with this.  This has created a sense of frustration among sections of the society and a general impression that stolen properties would not be recovered once it is stolen.  It has the impact of creating a mass impression which is unjustified though the Police Department has been carrying out its responsibilities with sincerity and dedication.  It leads to a tendency to burk crimes and to rely on the window dressing of statistics of performance.

         State assurance of property would also lead to fewer people giving up their lives or getting grievously injured while defending their property from being stolen in violent crimes like robbery and dacoity.


Assurance Policy


The policy of assurance implies that in all true property crimes occurring in the coming financial year, if after due diligence and thorough investigation, a case is certified to be undetected and property not recovered, then the State will step in to recompense the entire value of such un-recovered property.

Table 1

Comparative Figure of Property Crime for 2004 and 2005 in Tamil Nadu



Year 2004

Year 2005

% of Detection



Property Lost

Rs. 43,93,77,973/-


Property Recovered

Rs. 34,96,63,486/-

Rs. 30,88,78,587/-

% of Recovery




Source: Crime Review, Tamil Nadu. 2005


Methodology of the Proposed Innovative Scheme of Assurance


The following clauses may be added in the proposed Innovative scheme of assurance


a.      The financial implications of the assurance policy for a state for instance like Tamil Nadu will not far exceed Rs. 10 crores given the baseline value of property not recovered in 2004 and 2005 (Rs.9 crores approximately).

b.      The assurance of the state would exclude already insured property of individual citizens and such items of property that are already covered by well-defined insurance schemes such as two wheelers and four wheeler vehicles. 

c.      The policy would also exclude cases of cheating and such other white collar crimes involving loss to an individual or firm or organization. 

d.      In cases of payment of assurance but subsequent detection and recovery, the value may be remitted to the treasury. 

e.      Caveats and clauses for prosecution can be incorporated for any fraudulent claims.

f.       The scheme would, of course, exclude cases of wanton or proven negligence on the part of  the   owner  of  the  property  and  would apply if all  reasonable  precautions that would normally be observed by a prudent citizen.


In western countries, almost all the properties are insured against loss of theft and hence this is not a serious problem in those countries.  But in India[2] where more than 40 percent of the country lives below poverty line, the insurance for loss of properties has not spread widely.  The State Government, in its role to ensure protection to the properties of its citizens, can promise its citizens that the value of non-recoverable stolen properties, when they are not insured and when due diligence has been exercised by the citizen in ensuring the protection of his/her property, will be paid to the citizens who have lost such property.


Cost Benefit Analysis


A cost benefit analysis of the proposed scheme would clearly reveal the vast accrued direct and spin-off benefits to the entire population of the state, in terms of an enhanced sense of security and good will towards the Government. The scheme can bring many benefits to the society and improve the efficiency of the functioning of Police Department, other than dispelling the myth that all stolen properties are lost forever and the sense of insecurity among the public.


A simple calculation may solve the problem of meeting this commitment.


Table 2 Number of Occupied Residential Houses in Tamil Nadu


Serial No.


Number of Houses










Source: Statistical Hand Book 2005[3]


If Rs. 4.50/- is collected semi-annually from each residential occupant, the total commitment of the Tamil Nadu Government may be met. The future value of Rs.4.50/- collected semi-annually from 12400000 occupants may bring the required fund to the exchequer of the Government in a year.

The calculations are given below:


The future value of this two annuities in a year would fetch the Government would be Rs.11,35,53,000/- at the rate of 7% per annum.


Benefits of the Scheme


         Firstly, the confidence of the public on the State Government as a protector of their interests will improve significantly. 


         Secondly, there will be an improved awareness among the public about the care and diligence to be taken to protect their own property.  Thirdly, there will be an increased pressure on the Police Department to improve its efficiency with respect to recovery of stolen properties. 


         The amount of money that is to be dispensed, as sum assured for unrecoverable stolen properties will be used as an important indicator to judge the efficiency of the police department in various units.  It can be easily inferred that if the money dispensed is less, the more efficient the police department is.  This will naturally create competition among police personnel belonging to various districts of the state and will bring down the total dispensation to the barest minimum and thereby improving the efficiency of the Police Department as whole.


         The beneficiaries of this scheme will be the citizens of the entire state at a minimum cost to the State or Central Government concerned.  Beneficiaries will include the poor and downtrodden who could not afford the cost of insurance to protect their properties. For instance, people who already own a motorized vehicle would have necessarily taken an Insurance Policy for their property and these people would not the beneficiaries under this scheme.  Poor   people who cannot afford such a protection will be real beneficiaries of this scheme.  It will also be gratifying to the middle class taxpayers and the affluent. 


         The proposal would have a salutary effect on the policy and administrative machinery in terms of enhanced professionalism and freer registration of cases with lesser reliance on window dressing of the statistics of performance, in terms of crime detection. 


         The percentage of assurance to recovery effected would serve as an comparative index of police performance of each police unit/district.





This scheme is a unique initiation. This type of scheme has not been implemented anywhere in the world and once implemented in any country, that Government will be the first in the world to initiate, introduce and make it a grand success, which will then become a model for the entire globe.


About the Author:

Dr. Prateep V. Philip is a member of the Indian Police Service. Currently, he is the Inspector General of Police, Social Justice and Human Rights, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, India. During his law enforcement career, he has served as the as District Superintendent of Police of Four Districts, SP, Narcotics Intelligence Bureau of Tamil Nadu, Principal, Police Training College and as DIG, CB CID (Special Investigation Team) Chennai, DIG Intelligence, DIG Tirunelveli Range. He has a BA in Economics, Political Science and History; an MA in Political Science and International Relations; and, a PhD in Public Administration.

Dr. Prateep V. Philip is the author of The Friends of Police Movement: A Roadmap for Proactive People Protection.


[1] The Constitution of India, http://www.iloveindia.com/constitution-of-india/fundamental-rights.html

[2] Census of India, 2001

[3] The Statistical Handbook 2005, Government of Tamil Nadu, Department of Economics and Statistics Website: http://www.tn.gov.in/deptst/Tab18_07.htm



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