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  • Criminal intimidation is an offence defined under Section 503 of IPC, the punishment for which has been given under Section 506.
  • It gives a protection against any threatening, frightening act which is of a grave nature and which has the ability to make a person do or not to do something.
  • Both the Supreme Court and the High Courts have time to time explained as to what shall be included in the term ‘threat’ and have widened the scope of the provision to include threats to publish obscene photos and demand money.
  • In spite of its benefits, it lacks on certain grounds, which can be rectified by means of an amendment.


Criminal intimidation has been defined under Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which means when a person is threatened by another person by means of a harm to the body, property, reputation of such a person, or anyone closely related to such a person, with the purpose to persuade him to do which the person is not obligated to do and dissuade from doing something which the person was legally bound to do, such threat shall be considered as criminal intimidation and shall be punished under Section 506 of the Code. This article shall be an endeavor to study about the offence in detail along with some case laws and what measures can be taken to further improve the application of the provision.

What is Intimidation

Intimidation, as per the Cambridge dictionary, means “frightening someone or giving a threat to someone, to make someone do an act which the perpetrator wants him to do, or not do something which the perpetrator does not want him to do.” In general words, intimidation means scaring someone to the extent where one can compel the other to undertake an activity or an omission, as one wishes. Such fear to do or not to do something against one’s wishes is often created by causing an actual loss, or a perception that a loss would be caused to the person if he does not abide by the instructions given to him by the person who gives the threat. For example, a collision of cars took place. The driver of first car went to the other car to vent out his anger, but the frightening expression of the driver of the other car, made the former backtrack without saying anything. Even this can amount to intimidation.

When intimidation becomes criminal intimidation

As expressed earlier, intimidation can be considered to be any threat to a person causing him to do or not to do something. But all acts which can be considered to be intimidating, may not be considered as criminal intimidation. Any criminal act is generally of a higher degree, therefore, there must be a higher degree of harm to be caused to a person for an intimidation to be considered as criminal intimidation. There are various requirements which need to be fulfilled for an offence of criminal intimidation to take place as mentioned under Section 503 of the IPC.

The essential ingredients of criminal intimidation are:

i. There must be a threat of causing an injury;

ii. Such injury can be to the body, property, reputation of the person being threatened;

iii. The injury can also be to the body, reputation of a person closely associated to the person being threatened, or anyone in whom the person is interested (eg. Family, close friends, acquaintances etc.);

iv. Such threat must be intended to raise an alarm (make a person frightened, afraid, apprehensive of an imminent danger) in the mind of the person;

v. The threat must cause the person so threatened to do any illegal act or omission (to do something not legally bound to do and omit something legally bound to do) as per the wishes of the person giving the threat.

These essentials were also affirmed by the Delhi High Court in the case of Narendra Kumar and Ors. v. State and Ors. (2004). The fulfillment of all the essential ingredients would make an intimidation, a criminal intimidation and make it punishable under the ambit of Section 506 of the IPC.

It must be noted that apart from the above-mentioned essentials, as held by the Bombay HC in Shri Vasant Waman Pradhan vs Shri Dattatraya Vithal Salvi, the threat must be given with a criminal intention. Such intention can be gathered from the circumstances of the particular case.

Further, it must also be noted that the offence of criminal intimidation is different from the offence of extortion given under Section 383 of the IPC. While there is an element of threat in both the offences, the threat in extortion is immediate and pecuniary in nature, as it is done to induce the person being threatened to immediately surrender money or any valuable possession such a person has with him. On the other hand, the threat in criminal intimidation is not always immediate and pecuniary in nature, as the person being intimidated is induced to do or not to do an act as per the directions of the person giving the threat. It can be said that the ambit of criminal intimidation is wider than that of extortion.

Now, a reading of the essential ingredients gives rise to following questions:

a. What all would be included in the word ‘threat’ as mentioned in Section 503?

b. What do the words ‘cause an alarm’ mean in the context of Section 503 and what is their importance?

c. What would be the nature and extent of the harm that can be caused by the threat?

For (a), various judgements of the Supreme Court and various High Courts can be referred to.

In Vikram Johar v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2019), the appellant was charged with the offence of criminal intimidation under Section 506 for abusing the opposing party while having a gun on his possession. Further, the appellant also attempted to assault the opposing party but couldn’t do so due to the intervention of the neighbors. In this case, the SC held that the ingredients of criminal intimidation were not fulfilled as mere abuses do not lead to a threat.

In the case of Shri Padma Mohan Jamatia vs Smt. Jharna Das Baidya (2019), the respondent was an M.P. of the CPI (M) party, who in one of her speeches gave some threats to the leaders and the workers of the BJP. It was held by the Tripura HC that some vague statements which did not cause any actual harm to the applicants cannot be considered to be a criminal intimidation. The Court further held that for an offence of criminal intimidation, the words used should provoke another person to cause harm to the aggrieved.

The Supreme Court in Manik Taneja v. State of Karnataka (2015) held that exposing the unjust treatment meted out by the police authorities shall also not constitute the offence of criminal intimidation to the police.

Some decisions have also laid down that the threat to cause harm to a person or a group of persons need not be direct in nature, meaning that the offence of criminal intimidation can be said to have been done if an accused makes a threatening remark to a person who is not in the immediate vicinity of the accused. The threat can be indirect too. For instance, it was held by the Bombay HC in Anuradha Kshirsagar v. State of Maharashtra, that a threat given by a person to some female teachers which raised an alarm of fear in the minds of all the lady teachers present shall be considered to be a part of threat as under Section 503 and shall be punished under Section 506 of the Code for the offence of criminal intimidation.

Apart from the cases, as laid down in Explanation to Section 503, a threat to harm the reputation of a dead person shall also be considered to be a threat, if the person threatened is interested in the dead person.

For the purposes of (b), the following case can be considered:

In Amulya Kumar Behera vs Nabaghana Behera Alias Nabina, the Orissa High Court stressed upon the importance of ‘alarm’ in the offence of criminal intimidation and held that there must be an intention on the part of the accused to raise an alarm in the mind of the aggrieved. The fact that the aggrieved was actually alarmed by the act of the accused is not relevant, but the intention to cause alarm should be mandatorily present.

It should be noted that ‘alarm’ in this Section would necessarily mean an apprehension in the mind of the person threatened, that not following the conditions of the perpetrator would lead to serious harm to him.

For the purposes of (c), following cases can be considered:

In the case of Romesh Chandra v. The State (1960), the appellant was accused of criminal intimidation when he asked for money from the aggrieved party, failing which, he threatened him of spreading some objectionable photographs of the daughter of the person threatened. It was held by the Supreme Court that this threat was sufficient to raise an alarm in the minds of the person threatened and his daughter as to harm to their reputation. Therefore, the appellant had committed the offence of criminal intimidation and his conviction was held valid.

The Allahabad HC, in an old case of Nand Kishore v. Emperor, held that a threat by a public servant to disrupt the livelihood of a person and making his stay in the area miserable would fall under the ambit of criminal intimidation as defined in Section 503 of the IPC.

Further, the Madras HC, in the case of Doraswamy Ayyer v. King-Emperor, held that the threat given by the person must be of an injury which the said person can facilitate and which the person being threatened can avoid through some act/omission. In this case, it was held that a threat of an injury inflicted by the God cannot be considered to be an injury, since it won’t be within the power of the accused to inflict the injury.


Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code lays down the punishment for the offence of criminal intimidation. As a general rule, the Section lays down that the punishment for an offence of criminal intimidation would be an imprisonment (either simple or rigorous) of a maximum period of 2 years, or a fine, or both. It would be a bailable offence and of a compoundable nature, wherein the compromise can take place between the accused and the person who was intimidated.

But the 2nd para of Section 506 lays down a special rule. It says that if the threat was to commit any of the following offences, the punishment for such intimidation would be an imprisonment (either simple or rigorous) of a maximum period of 7 years, or a fine, or both. It would be a bailable offence and of a compoundable nature, wherein the compromise can take place between the accused and the person who was intimidated.

The following offences are to be considered, the committing of which would invite the provisions given in para II of Section 506:

a. Death

b. Grevious hurt

c. Destruction of property by fire

d. Imputing unchastity to a woman

e. Any other offence the punishment of which is death penalty, life imprisonment or a maximum imprisonment of 7 years.

Apart from Sections 505 and 506, the Chapter contains various provisions which depict an aggravated form of criminal intimidation. These are enlisted as under:

Section 504: Insult with attention to provoke disturbance in peace.

Section 505(1): Making statements which can cause public mischief.

Section 505(2): Making statements which can promote hatred, enmity, ill-will between classes.

Section 505(3): If statements under Section 505(2) are made in places of worship.

Section 507: Making a criminal intimidation anonymously.

Section 508: Inducement in name of Divine powers.

Section 509: Words/gestures which outrage a woman’s modesty.

Section 510: Actions of a drunken person.


The provision for criminal intimidation is very important as it lays down a provision which can be resorted to by a person who is threatened by another person in the normal course of business. But there are certain aspects which have not yet been considered in the Section.

i. Use of Online medium for intimidation: In the time of a digital revolution, where the internet is open for all, such openness has also led to a significant rise in the instances of spreading of online hatred targeted both at individuals (also called trolling) and also at the society at large. While these instances may be separate provisions of the Chapter, there is no specific provision to deal with the menace.

ii. Absence of provision related to intimidation of public servants: There may be an occurrence of instances wherein a public servant may be intimidated by a person, to get their work done. The provision does not talk about the defence which can be taken by the public servants and they have to rely on general provisions. The lack of special provisions with respect to intimidation of civil servants is a major loophole.

iii. Apart from the above stated points, there can also be a situation wherein a person may be threatened to do or not to do an act, and the threat would be significant, but remote in nature. (eg. Threat of committing suicide in order to get a work done). It is not directly, but remotely related to the harm which can be suffered by the person who has been threatened. Not considering this would lead to a miscarriage of justice.


After going through the article, it can be concluded that Section 506 contains a very important offence, which is resorted to by a lot of persons on a daily basis. It is pertinent to solidify its position so that the protection of this provision can be extended to all the aggrieved persons without neglecting anyone.

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