Criminal Intimidation - IPC Section 503 - Explained with Landmark Caselaws

Threatening someone is an offense under the Indian Penal Code. Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code specifies the provision for punishment for the offense of criminal intimidation.

Section 503 of IPC, defines Criminal intimidation as the act of threatening a person to injure their body, property or reputation or another person's body, property or reputation, intending to cause him to perform any act or omission which he's not legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threat.

Explanation: A threat to injure the reputation of any deceased person in whom the person threatened is interested, is within this section. The intention must be to harm either the victim himself of any other person in whom he is interested. This intention must exist in the mind of offender even if he cannot execute it.

Criminal intimidation is non- cognizable offence. And triable by any magistrate.

Section 506 of IPC: Punishment for criminal intimidation. Whoever commits, the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprison­ment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both; If threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, etc. And if the threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, or to cause the destruction of any property by fire, or to cause an offence punishable with death or 1[imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or to impute, unchastity to a woman, shall be punished with imprison­ment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.

Explanation
Section 506 is divided into two parts-

Part I-Punishment for criminal intimidation will be either imprisonment of up to two years or fine or both.
Part II- A person will be punished with imprisonment of up to seven years or with fine or with both, if the threat is to cause:

i. Death or
ii. Grievous hurt or
iii. Destruction of property by fire or
iv. Offence punishable with death or
v. Offence punishable with life imprisonment or
vi. Offence punishable with imprisonment of seven years or
vii. To impute unchastity to a woman.

Part I is non-cognizable and bailable offence whereas Part II is a cognizable, bailable and non- compoundable offence.

Case laws

In the case of Keshav Baliram Naik V. State of Maharashtra, it was held that if a person threatens another but the persons threatened does not act in accordance with that threat and doesn't get intimidated by the threat, he won't be held liable. In this case, the accused allegedly molested a girl and threatened her to kill her he she disclosed his name but she shouted as he was arrested.


In the case of Ghanshyam v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the conviction for criminal intimidation was held valid where the accused entered a house in the night carrying knife and threatened the inmates to kill them.
In the case of RajinderDatt v. State of Haryana, mere outburst of the accused at the time of commission of another offence to kill, will not attract Section 506, especially when the injury caused is not caused to any vital part of body or is of grievous nature.

In the case of Romesh Chandra v. State held that where the accused threatened to harm the reputation of the appellant by having indecent pictures of his daughter published, he was held liable for criminal intimidation, for the intention to harm his reputation and to harm his daughter.

In the case of Manik Taneja and Anr v State of Karnataka, the appellant and his wife met with an auto-rickshaw accident. They paid all the hospital expenses of the injured and met the Constable present at the time of the accident who they allege behaved with them in a rude manner. Thereafter, they posted comments on the Bangalore Traffic Police Page on Facebook, about the officer's misbehavior. Their conviction was set aside as it was said that this act cannot constitute as one that would make up the offense of criminal intimidation.

In the case of Mata Sevak Upadhyaya v. State of Uttar Pradesh, Section 506 being cognizable offense was upheld as it was declared that it does not violate Article 14 of the Constitution.
Punishment for criminal intimidation will only be attracted when the accused does not adhere to the standard of a reasonable person as accepted by society.

 

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Karishma Yadav 
on 31 March 2020
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