Tuesday, October 23, 2012

'Extortion' under Indian Penal Code

Under Indian Penal Code 1860,( in short IPC ) the law relating to 'extortion' have been laid down in Sections 383 to 389.

According to Collins English Dictionary, extortion means the act of securing money, favors, etc. by intimidation or violence; blackmail.
Dictionary of English Language by Houghton Mifflin Company, Fourth Edition, defines 'extortion' as 'illegal use of one's official position or powers to obtain property, funds or patronage.'

Section 383 of IPC defines 'extortion' whereas Section 384 IPC  is the Penal Section for extortion, a person is punishable for extortion if he puts any person in fear of injury and thereby dishonestly induces him to deliver any property whereas Section 385 of IPC is for attempt to commit extortion. Aggravated forms of extortion are provided under Sections 386 to 389.

The offence of extortion has been defined by Section 383 IPC, which is read as follows:- 'whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that person, or to any other, and thereby dishonestly induces 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, commits "extortion".'

Essential Ingredients of Extortion.
(i) intention to put a person under fear of injury,
(ii) thereby induces dishonestly to
      (a) deliver any property, or
      (b) valuable security, or
      (c) anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable security,
(iii) to any person.

Sections 24, 43 and 44 of IPC, respectively defines the terms, dishonestly, illegally and injury. In Section 24 IPC, dishonestly has been defined as; 'whoever does anything with the intention of causing wrongful gain to one person or wrongful loss to another person, is said to do that thing 'dishonestly'. Section 43 IPC, lays down that 'the word "illegal" is applicable to every thing which is an offence or which is prohibited by law, or which furnishes ground for a civil action.....'. Section 44 IPC, lays down that, 'the word "injury" denotes any harm whatever illegally caused to any person, in body, mind, reputation or property.

On consideration of the above definition and ingredients what appears is that if someone puts the other intentionally in fear of any injury and thereby dishonestly induce that person who had been put into fear, to deliver to the person any property or valuable security liable to be punished for extortion. The words "induces the person so put in fear to deliver" indicates the voluntariness of act of delivering a particular property on account of being put into fear etc.

Thus what is necessary for constituting an offence of extortion is that the prosecution must prove that on account of being put into fear of injury the victim was voluntarily delivering any particular property to the man putting him into fear. If there was no delivery of any property, then the most important ingredient constituting an offence of extortion was not available.

In Labhshankar vs. State of Saurashtra, AIR 1955 sau 42 and in Vena Ram vs. State of Raj. 2002 WLC (Raj.) 291, it was held that charge under Section 384 IPC, is not sustainable if the property is not delivered by the person extorted.

In Venkatappa vs. Jalayya, AIR(6) 1919 Mad 954, the accused, who was the proprietor of a certain estate, stopped complainant, a cooly, whom he suspected of smuggling Arrack from the Nizam's Dominions into British Territory, on the way... threatened to report the matter to the police unless he paid something. He was charged with... threat of injury to commit extortion...& was sentenced to a...fine... Held...that the conviction under Section 385 was bad, as complainant was not put in fear of any injury within the meaning of Section 44, Penal Code and the accused only threatened to do what he was bound by law to do.

In Biram Lal vs. State, RLW 2007(1) Raj.713, it was held that in order to complete the act of extortion the person who was put in fear, must have been induced to deliver the property. If the act of inducement caused by the wrong doer should bring forth its result at least by the victim consenting to deliver property even if actual delivery does not take place due to any fortuitous circumstances which would constitute extortion, but if it falls to produce the requisite effect, the act would remain only at the stage of attempt to commit extortion. In the instant case, even if the offence of extortion is held to be not made out for want of delivery of the property at least, the offence of attempt to commit extortion is clearly made out.

In A.R Antulay vs. R.S. Nayak, AIR 1986 SC 2045, the accused was Chief Minister at the relevant time and the Sugar Co-operatives had some of the grievances pending consideration before the Government. The pressure was brought about on the Sugar Co-operatives to make the donations with a promise that their grievances shall be consider. Held, that the ingredients of the offence of extortion not made out. There was no evidence at all that the management of the Sugar Co-operatives had been put in any fear and the contributions had been paid in response to threats.

Disclaimer: The above information is for general use. Consult your lawyer before acting.