Indian penal code, 1860 defines the offence of extortion and it’s punishment in the Section 383 to 389. Extortion as defined under Section 383 is putting a person in fear of grave danger and compelling that person to deliver its property and valuable security. In this article we will see different aspects of extortion and punishment prescribed for each different types of extortions. Sometimes theft is confused with extortion but there is a vast difference in both. In case of theft, the property or object is taken without the consent of owner but in the case of extortion, the delivery of property is at the will of owner though obtained wrongfully. So, in this article we will do a thorough analysis of extortion and its essential elements.
The Indian penal code, 1860 consists the term extortion under section 383. Extortion is defined under this section as “whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that person, or to any other, and thereby maliciously provokes the person so put in fear to deliver to any person any property, or valuable security or anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable security”. In a nutshell it can be said that extortion is a means of forcing someone to transfer his or her valuables through force or threat to cause harm. Extortion is meant to cause wrongful loss to one and wrongful gain to other. Let’s understand this through a straight forward example:-
- A threatens B to deliver his brand new car to him or otherwise A will keep B’s son in wrongful confinement without any food or water. Here, B has no other option, but to give his car to A. In this case, A induces B to deliver his valuable thing to A or else B’s son will die eventually, thus A is liable for Extortion.
SIN QUA NON OF EXTORTION
The essential ingredients which distinguish Extortion to other offences are as follows:
- Intentionally putting a person in fear of injury: it is one of the most essential element to constitute the offence of extortion. A person must be put in fear of grave danger intentionally by other. There must be wrongful loss to other and wrongful gain to another to prove an offence as Extortion. The actual delivery of property is essential to constitute extortion. The fear of injury does not necessarily have to be of bodily harm, it could be fear of injury to that person’s reputation, to his property or to his loved ones. The intensity of the fear is such that the person who is being out under it has to deliver his property. In this case there is an absence of free and voluntary action. Section 44 of IPC defines injury as, “any harm whatever illegally caused to any person, in body, mind, reputation or property”.
- Presence of dishonest intention: there must be dishonest intention present behind the offence of extortion. Dishonestly putting a person in fear to deliver the valuables, property, or anything signed and sealed which can be converted into a valuable security.
- Deliver of property or valuable security: to constitute the offence of extortion, the transaction must be completed.
CLASSIFICATION OF SECTIONS UNDER EXTORTION
As stated earlier Section 383 to 389 defines extortion on different parameters. Let’s analyse different sections of IPC which deal with different aspects of Extortion.
Section 384 of IPC prescribes the punishment for the offence of Extortion. This section defines extortion as cognizable offence wherein police can arrest the accused without warrant and same is triable by any Magistrate. Extortion is a non-bailable offence and cannot be compounded. This section reads the punishment for extortion as “whoever commits extortion shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both”. In the case of Deepti Gupta & others v. Shweta Parmar (2016), it was stated by the Hon’ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh that, to prove the offence under Section 384 of IPC, the prosecution prima facie has to establish the ingredients as provided under Section 383 of IPC.
Section 385 of IPC states that any person who puts or attempts to put any person under threat of injury or fear to commit extortion shall be punished with an imprisonment of two years or fine or with both. Thus, even an attempt to commit the offence of extortion is made punishable under the IPC. The offence under Section 385 is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable and triable by any Magistrate.
Section 386 of IPC states that “whoever commits extortion by putting any person in fear of death or of grievous hurt to that person or to any other, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine”. The oofence under this Section 386 is cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable and triable by Magistrate of First Class.
Section 387 of IPC states that, “whoever in order to the committing of extortion, puts or attempts to put any person in fear of death or of grievous hurt to that person or to any other, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be also liable to fine”.
Section 388 of IPC defines extortion by threat of accusation of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life etc. “whoever commits extortion by putting any person in fear of an accusation against that person or any other, of having committed or attempted to commit any offence punishable with death, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years”. The offence under Section 388 of Indian Penal Code is cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable punishable up to ten years and triable by Magistrate of First Class.
Section 389 of IPC states that “whoever puts or attempts to put any person in fear of an accusation, against that person or any other, of having committed, or attempted to commit, an offence punishable with death or with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine”.
SOME IMPORTANT LANDMARK CASES RELATED TO EXTORTION
- In the case of Anil B. Nandakarni & Ors. V. Amitesh Kumar (2001), the counsel for the accused pleaded that a necessary element to convict an accused for the offence of extortion under IPC requires that a property or valuables must be transferred to the accused by the victim when he is under the threat or fear of injury.
- In the case of Lalit Vilasrao Thakre V. The State of Maharashtra (2018), the Hon’ble High Court of Bombay held that merely taking signatures or thumb impressions on a blank paper, though forcefully may not amount to the offence of extortion. The rationale given by the court behind this is that such a blank paper cannot be converted into any valuable property as per Section 383 of IPC.
- In the case of Chander Kala V. Ram Kishan (1985), the complainant (Smt. Chander Kala) was working as a teacher in a Govt. Middle School and the respondent (Ram Kishan) was the head master of the same school. The accused, after a series of events, called the complainant to his house and threatened to attack her modesty if she refused to sign three blank papers. And when she did, he threatened that he will use those signed papers to blackmail her by recording any statement on the papers, if she refused to act according to his wishes. The Supreme Court held that the accused had committed an offence under Section 384.
In a simple words, extortion refers to an act whereby a person forces to transfer any property or valuable security under the fear of threat or an injury. Indian Penal Code defines the offence of extortion under section 383 and the punishment for the same offence is prescribed under Section 384 of IPC. As stated earlier there are few essentials parameters on which this offence is judged. There should be peace and harmony in the society and every person has every right to live in the society without any fear or threat. The chief concerns of law is to protect the fundamental values of mankind.
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 India Penal Code, 1860, Sec 383
 Indian Penal Code, 1860, Sec 44
 Indian Penal Code, 1860, Sec 384
 Deepti Gupta & others vs. Shweta Parmar (2016), Misc. Cri.C No. 2302 of 2013
 Supra “Note” 1
 Indian Penal Code, 1860, Sec 385
 Indian Pennal Code, 1860, Sec 386
 B&B ASSOCIATES LLP, More aggravated forms of extortion, Extortion – The Relevant provision Under IPC, (May 25, 2018), https://bnblegal.com/article/extortion-relevant-provisions-ipc/
 Indian Penal Code, 1860, Sec 387
 Indian Penal Code, 1860, Sec 388
 Indian Penal Code, 1860, Sec 389
 Anil B. Nandakarni & Ors. Vs. Amitesh Kumar, (2001) (4) MhLJ 744
 Lalit Vilasrao Thakre Vs. The State of Maharashtra, (2018) SCC OnLine Bom 61
 Chander Kala Vs. Ram Kishan AIR 1985 SCC 1268