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Student Notes - Criminal Intimidation - Indian Penal Code

CRIMINAL INTIMIDATION

Under Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the offence of criminal intimidation is defined. This provision states that anybody who, on the following grounds, threatens any other person is guilty of criminal intimidation.

  1. Threatens injury to his person;
  2. Threatens injury to his reputation;
  3. Threatens injury to his property;
  4. Threatens injury to the person or reputation of anyone in whom the person is interested.
 

In addition, it should be the intention to warn this person, or put him into motion any act he is not legally obliged to do, or omit any act that he or she is legally entitled to do. This leads to criminal intimidation as they are required to perform one of these acts as a means of preventing such a crime from being executed.

The explanation of this provision indicates that this clause also includes a danger to the image of a deceased person with which the person threatened is involved.

Example: ‘A’ with the intent of inducing B to refrain from filing a complaint against him, threatens to kill B’s wife. A will be punishedfor the offence of criminal intimidation.

The Apex Court in the case of Vikram Johar vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (2019)[1] has observed That the simple act of an usage of filthy language does not meet the fundamental requirements of the criminal intimidation.  The allegation was that the defendant went to the home of the plaintiff and insulted him in a filthy language with a gun. They even threatened to attack him, but they escaped from the position when the neighbours arrived. The Bench decided that the aforementioned claims were prima facie does not constitute the offence. 

In the case of Manik Taneja vs. State of Karnataka (2015)[2], The Supreme Court ruled that it could not be criminal intimidation to write statements regarding unfair treatment by the police on the Facebook website. 

The Supreme Court elaborated on the scope of Section 503, IPC in Romesh Chandra Arora vs. State (1960)[3]. In this case, the accused threatened a person X and his daughter, of injury to reputation by releasing a nude picture of the girl if the money was not paid. The accused-appellant was charged with criminal intimidation basically the intent was to cause alarm. The Court specified that the purpose of the accused was to cause alarm to get the money and to ensure that he did not go ahead with the threat of releasing the damaging photographs on a public platform.

THE EXTENT OF NATURE OF THE THREAT

The threat doesn't need to be direct. In Re A.K. Gopalan vs. The State of Madras, Union of India: Intervener (1950)[4], The Court held that if the speaker, at a Public Meeting, was responsible for the crime of criminal intimidation and threatened the police officers posted at Malabar with harm to their individual, belongings, or reputations.

In the case of Anuradha Kshirsagar vs. State of Maharashtra (1989)[5], The defendants reportedly threatened the female teachers by screaming that teachers should be captured, kicked and removed from the hall.  The High Court of Bombay considered these findings to be an act of criminal intimidation.

PUNISHMENT FOR CRIMINAL INTIMIDATION

In Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 the sentence for criminal intimidation is laid down.The arrangement is split into two parts:

1. When you commit criminal intimidation, you will be imprisoned for a term of two years or a fine or both. For those who commit criminal intimidation.Classification of the offence: This part is a non-cognizable, bailable, and compoundable offence. It can be tried by Any Magistrate

2. If the threat is to cause:

  • Death or grievous hurt; 
  • Destruction of any property by fire; 
  • To cause an offence to be committed which is punishable with imprisonment up to a term of seven years, life imprisonment or death;
  • To attribute unchastity to a woman.

In the above-mentioned cases, the given punishment is simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending to seven years; or a fine; or both.

The second segment of the provision deals with punishing serious forms of criminal intimidation, as opposed to the first. It can be tried by the Magistrate of First Class. This part is bailable,non-cognizableand non-compoundable offence. 

It is important to note that, to attract the second part of this section there must be a threat of either causing death or grievous hurt. 

In Keshav Baliram Naik vs. State of Maharashtra (1995)[6], It was alleged that while she was unconscious, the defendant touched the hand of the prosecutor, a blind child, and then tried to strip her quilt and put his hand inside her coat. he threatened to kill herIf she disclosed the accused’s identity, The Court held that, aside this was a form of criminal intimidation in Section II of the Section.

CRIMINAL INTIMIDATION BY ANONYMOUS COMMUNICATION

An aggravated type of intimidation is specified in section 507 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. This section includes cases in which the intimidator anonymously commits the offence. In this section, it is specified that anybody who, through anonymous correspondence, involves in the act of criminal intimidation or takes measures to hide his identity or home, will be punished with imprisonment up to two years. This punishment will be in addition to the sentence provided for the offence under Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.It is bailable, non-cognizable, and non-compoundable. It can be tried by Magistrate of the First Class.

Example: A person anonymously writes a letter to a person X, in which he threatens that he will burn X’s house, then it will be considered as an offence under this Section.

THE ACT CAUSED BY INDUCING A PERSON TO BELIEVE THAT HE WILL BE RENDERED AN OBJECT OF THE DIVINE DISPLEASURE.

This offence is covered by Section 508 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The essential ingredients are-

1.      A person who voluntarily causes or attempts to cause any person to perform acts which the person is not legally bound to do or to overlooks to do any act which he is legally eligible to do.

  1. By the way of inducing or attempting to induce the person. 
  2. To believe that if he does not complete the acts asked by the offender, then either the person or someone else in whom he has an interest, will become or will be rendered by some act of the offender an object of Divine displeasure.

The punishment is imprisonment for a duration that can extend to one year; or fine; or both. It is a bailablenon-cognizable, and compoundable by the person against whom the offence was committed. It can be tried by Any Magistrate.

Example 1: The messages forwarded on numerous social media platforms to share a specific text to twenty other people or refrain from something, otherwise a Divine entity would impose pain or any other way of divine displeasure, fall into the category of this offence.

Example 2: A person ‘A’ threatens ‘B’ that if he does not complete a particular act, then A shall kill one of his children, under such conditions that the killing would be believed to render B an object of Divinedispleasure. An offence has been committed by ‘A’ according to this section.

  • [1]AIR 2019 SC 2109
  • [2](2015) 7 Supreme Court Cases 423
  • [3]AIR 1960 SC 154
  • [4]1950 AIR 27
  • [5]1991 CriLJ 410
  • [6]1996 CriLJ 1111

 

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Apoorva 
on 29 September 2020
Published in Students
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