IPC 506: Punishment for criminal intimidation is mentioned under section 506 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Criminal intimidation is punishable by two years in jail, a fine, or both.
If the potential danger is to cause death or grievous harm, or to cause the damage to any property by fire, or to commit a criminal act punishable with death or life imprisonment, or imprisonment for a time which can be expanded to seven years. The punishment is also applicable in the cases of positing unchastity towards a woman. This is to be punished by imprisonment from either characterization for a term which may extend to seven years, or even with fine, or with both.
What is Criminal Intimidation?
Criminal intimidation is defined under section 503 of the Indian Penal Code, and the offence is liable to be punished 506 of the Indian Penal Code.
Before delving into the provisions for criminal intimidation penalty, it’s necessary to first fully comprehend and define criminal intimidation. Under the IPC, threatening someone’s life or reputation is taken very seriously.
The Delhi High Court in Narendra Kumar & others vs. State (2004) outlined the necessary elements of an offence pursuant to section 503 IPC.
- There ought to be a risk of harm.
To an individual or his reputation;
To his property; or,
Even to the character or reputation of anybody who is interested in that person.
- The threat should be made with
The intended meaning to alarm that person; or,
To cause the said person to do something he is not obliged by law to do as a way of avoiding the threat’s execution; or,
To end up causing that person to omit doing something he is legally obligated to do as a way of avoiding the threat’s execution.
That being said, in the judgment of Vikram Johar vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (2019), the supreme court held that just assaulting someone in a filthy manner does not fulfil the basic elements of criminal intimidation. Following the matter of Amitabh Adhar vs. NCT of Delhi (2000), it must have been determined that just threatening someone does not constitute criminal intimidation. There must have been a deliberate attempt to scare the individual who is being threatened.
It was decided in Amulya Kumar Behera v. Nabaghana Behera that under section 503, the accused must intend to cause alarm to the victim, or whether or not the victim is startled is irrelevant. However, evidence must be shown to prove that the goal was to scare that individual. Section 506 of the Code does not apply to the mere expression of words without any aim to cause fear.
The defendants in Dr. Subramanian Swamy v. State of Tamil Nadu simply made threats to cause death or serious bodily harm but did not carry them out. The allegation of criminal intimidation was just not proven, according to the Madras High Court. The court stated that it is not enough to say that an outburst qualifies as a misdemeanor under Section 506 of the IPC. There were no claims throughout the whole complaint in the current instance, based on the averment in the lawsuit and the declarations in the depositions, that such petitioner in furtherance of his expression ever attempted or performed a conduct. In addition, neither the complaint nor the depositions specified the exact terms used or claimed to be used by the petitioner. The purpose of criminal intimidation, whether it had been meant to induce panic, and, if so, what phrases were used, are not indicated in the complaint or depositions.
The Madras High Court decided in Saraswathi v. State of Tamilnadu that requesting someone not to work in a garden area and threatening them to leave would just not fulfil the criteria under section 506 of the Code.
Status of the Offence under Section 506
S506 I.P.C. is compoundable, bailable and non-cognizable in India overall, except in states in which the applicability of this Section has been changed, as previously noted. The offence of Section 506 IPC is cognizable and non-bailable in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. Similarly, in Maharashtra’s Greater Bombay, now Mumbai, an offense intended under Section 506 IPC seems to be cognizable and non-bailable when the threat is to cause death or grievous bodily harm, or to cause the damage of any property by fire, or perhaps to cause an offence under this act punishable by death or life imprisonment. In the rest of Maharashtra, however, the offence is bailable and non-cognizable.
Exception: Nevertheless, pursuant to Sec.320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the offence under the latter section (2nd Offence) of this Section cannot be lawfully compounded; however, in a legitimate circumstance, a withdrawal from the prosecution may be permitted. However, through notification note No.777/VIII 9-4(2)-87 dated 31.7.1989 published in the Uttar Pradesh Gazette, the State of Uttar Pradesh amended Sec.506 IPC, making the offence punishable by imprisonment for seven years or a fine, or both, and making the offence cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable. The question does not specify which jurisdiction the bail was denied by. If the bail is denied by a Magistrate of First Class, appropriate processes may be initiated in the Sessions Court, and if unsuccessful, the case may be taken to the High Court.
Nature and Extent of the Threat
It is not required for the threat to be direct. The Supreme Court of India declared in Re A.K. Gopalan vs. The State of Madras, Union of India: Intervener (1950) that if a speaker at a public rally is threatening or has threatened any police personnel who is stationed in Malabar with intending to damage to the said person, property, or reputation, he was guilty of criminal intimidation.
The accused in the matter of Anuradha Kshirsagar vs. State of Maharashtra (1989) reportedly intimidated female instructors by saying that they should be grabbed by their hair, kicked in the waist, and dragged out of the hall. According to the Bombay High Court, these words amounted to criminal intimidation.
Nature of the Threatening Words or Action
In the case of Nand Kishore vs. Emperor (1927), a butcher selling meat was threatened with imprisonment if he engaged in the actions of buying or selling cattle. His ability to live in the community was also jeopardised. This, according to the Court, constituted criminal intimidation.
The fear of divine retribution could not be encompassed in the scope of illegal intimidation, according to Doraswamy Ayyar vs. King-Emperor (1924). If somehow the person who threatened is unable to carry out the threat, he can’t be held accountable for criminal intimidation.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled in Surinder Suri v. State of Haryana, 1996 SCC OnLine P&H 582 that the essence of the offence (under Section 503 IPC, which is subject to punishment under Section 506 IPC) is the consequence that the threat is meant to have it on the mind of the person threatened. The threat should be one that the person threatening can carry out. A threat must always be made with the intention of alarming the complainant in regard to being indictable. A vague statement by the accused and said he would exact retribution by filing false charges, for example, cannot be considered criminal intimidation.
From the evidence on record, the Bench in the case of Shrikrushna vs. State of Maharashtra, Criminal Revision No. 90 of 2020, concluded that there was nothing more than a plain generic assertion that some threat had been given to support the accusation under Section 506 IPC. Criminal intimidation, as described in Section 503 of the IPC, is one of Section 506’s sine qua non elements.
According to the court, a simple reading of Section 503 IPC reveals that the threat must always be made with the intention of causing injury to a person’s person, reputation, or property, and the intent has to be to aggravate that person to do something he is not bound by law to do, or to omit something he is legally entitled for doing. The nature of the threat, the language used, whether the terms used were such that they would cause fear, or whether the complainant/informant was worried in actuality are all issues that are up to speculation, according to the High Court.
Other Landmark Judgements on Section 506 IPC
- Romesh Chandra Arora vs State (1980)
In the case of Romesh Chandra Arora vs State (1980), the accused threatened to harm the reputation of person X and his daughter by exposing nude photographs of the daughter unless the money was provided to him. The judge decided that releasing these photos to the public would jeopardise the girl’s and her father’s reputations.
The court went on to say that the accused planned to frighten X so that, having been threatened, X would give in to all of his requests and pay him the money, ensuring that the accused just wouldn’t carry out his threat of publicly publishing the photos. This constituted criminal intimidation since it caused X to become alarmed.
- Manik Taneja vs. State of Karnataka
In Manik Taneja vs. State of Karnataka, the appellant was involved in an accident in which she collided with an auto-rickshaw, injuring the auto’s passenger. She covered the hospital’s costs, and the problem was resolved peacefully. She was then summoned to the police station, where she claimed that the policemen had misbehaved with her instead of threatening to prosecute her with rash and careless driving. She was enraged by this and wrote comments on the Bangalore traffic police’s Facebook page condemning the police inspector of harassing and aggressive behaviour. As a result, a FIR was filed under IPC sections 506 and section 353. The Supreme Court ruled that just saying something without intending to cause alarm would not be enough to trigger the application of Section 503 and section 506 of IPC.
- Shri Padma Mohan Jamatia vs. Smt. Jharna Das Baidya (2019)
The Tripura High Court has ruled in Shri Padma Mohan Jamatia vs. Smt. Jharna Das Baidya (2019) that merely the use of harsh words, bad language, and body position during a political leader’s speech does not fall within the IPC’s criminal intimidation provisions.
Conclusion and A Way Forward
The preceding discussion demonstrates that the primary goal of criminal intimidation is to persuade the person intimidated to do or refrain from doing anything that he or she is not legally obligated to do or omit. It is consequently a criminal offence. Provision 506 is a penal section that lays out the penalties for the crime of criminal intimidation, which is defined in section 503. Section 506 of the IPC divides criminal intimidation into two categories: lesser and more severe kinds, with corresponding punishments. The offence of criminal intimidation is specifically defined in the IPC, and it attempts to include all aspects of criminal intimidation.
Through some of these provisions, the substantive law tries to impose sanctions for certain offences. Following the reading of these passages, it is clear that reforms are desperately required. The Indian Penal Code of 1860 is an antiquated statute with provisions that do not meet modern demands. Several revisions to the Act have been made, but certain concerns remain unresolved. The applicability of these laws is continually expanding as the law evolves as a result of court decisions. Legislative adjustments in this area would aid in attaining the objectives more effectively.
The legislation was enacted with the intention of punishing such violations, but a close examination of the provisions reveals that more comprehensive provisions and punishments with societal value are urgently needed. For example, under criminal intimidation, there really is no clear provision for inducing someone to commit suicide out of fear of a threat. Such occurrences have recently been noticed at a younger age. Another example is the penalty for an intoxicated person’s misbehavior.
The author is convinced that regulations relating to such offences in which a juvenile is the victim are restricted in some way. Minors lack the legal understanding and fundamental reasoning skills to respond appropriately to such offences. They may conduct things under duress that will result in criminal charges or other forms of social marginalization for the rest of their lives. The categories for minors must be broadened and tailored to include online intimidation, insult, and annoyance. Furthermore, the punishment for minors should be subtle in order to effectively operate as deterrence to such vulnerable preys.
- Gaur, K. D. Textboook on the Indian Penal Code. Universal Law Publishers, 2011.
- India, Law Commission of India. Indian Penal Code, June, 1971. [Delhi: Govt. of India, Ministry of Law, 1971.
- India Code: Section Details. India Code. Accessed 9 January 2022. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/show-data?actid=AC_CEN_5_23_000010_197402_1517807320555&orderno=289.
- National Crime Records Bureau. NCRB. Accessed 9 January 2022. https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/CII%202019%20Volume%201.pdf
- “Manupatra – An Online Database for Legal Research.” Manupatra – An Online Database for Legal Research. Accessed 9 January 2022. https://www.manupatrafast.com/?t=desktop.
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860
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