Extortion

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Extortion

Sec 385: Putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extortion[1]

Putting or attempting to put a person in fear of injury in order to commit extortion has been penalised under this section. Putting in fear and attempting to put in fear of any injury both have been treated at par, and it is not necessary that extortion must take place because the language used is ‘in order to the committing of extortion’.

Facts to be proved [2]

1. The Person accused, by his conduct, had threatened the victim, by putting him in fear that,

2. If the victim failed to deliver –

  • a property, or
  • a valuable security, or
  • a instrument signed or sealed, which is in the nature of a valuable security,

3. To a Person,

4. The said victim, or any other Person, would be subjected to harm to reputation, or harm to property, or bodily harm, or a mental alarm had caused to the said victim by such inducement.

Instances under sec 385

Where in a criminal case a mukhtyar, with the intention of extorting money, threatened to put scandalous, indecent and irrelevant questions intended to annoy and insult the prosecution witnesses, he was held guilty under this section. Where a police officer was charged with having abetted the accused to extort money from the complainant, it could not be held that he had done the same in his official capacity, and, therefore, necessary sanction under section 197, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for his prosecution was not needed.

Classification of offence:

The offence under section 385 is cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by any magistrate therefore FIR or Application u/s 156(3) or Private Complaint u/s 200 may be preferred.

Punishment:

The section states that whoever either puts or attempt to put any person in fear of injury in order to the committing of extortion, shall be punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Cases

Bani Singh & Ors v. State Of U.P [3]

In this case, it was considered that the High Court erred in dismissing the appeal for non- prosecution simplicitor without examining the merits. It, therefore, set aside the impugned order and remit the appeal to the High Court for disposal on merits in the light of this judgment. Thus, the appeal was stand allowed accordingly.

Rajesh Yadav v. State of Jharkhand [4]

The petitioner has been made an accused for the offence registered under Section 385 of the IPC. Further, it is made clear that the petitioner shall remain present before the trial court, as and when directed by the trial court, till conclusion of the trial, failing which, the trial court is at liberty to pass appropriate order for securing the presence of the petitioner.

Rakhi Meena (Dr.) Another v. Usman Another [5]

The following points were considered in this case:

  • The essential ingredients of extortion as defined in Section 383 are not disclosed from the admitted allegations levelled in the complaint and the statements recorded under Sections 200 and 202 Cr.P.C.
  • The highest allegation of the complainant is that the petitioners threatened the complainant with dire consequences if the amount of 1000/- was not paid to them for conducting the delivery of his daughter-in-law.
  • The miscellaneous petition was hereby allowed.

Sec 386: Extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt:

This section punishes committing extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt. Commission of extortion is necessary under this section because the word used is ‘commits’, unlike the preceding section where the words used are ‘in order to the committing of. Kidnapping and abduction, for ransom, have been held to be punishable under this section where the ransom money is paid under threat of death or grievous hurt of the person kidnapped or abducted. It is a serious offence as is shown by the quantum of punishment prescribed. [6]

Facts to be proved:

1. The Person accused, by his conduct, had threatened the victim, by putting him in fear that,

2. If the victim failed to deliver –

  • a property, or
  • a valuable security,or
  • an instrument signed or sealed, which is in the nature of a valuable security,

3. To a Person,

4. The said victim, or any other Person, would face death or would face grievous hurt.

Classification of offence:

The offence under this section is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by magistrate of the first class.

Punishment [7]

Whoever commits extortion by putting any person in fear of either death or of grievous hurt either to that person or to any other person, shall be punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Cases:

State Of U.P vs. Abhai Raj Singh & anr [8]

It was held that the mandate of law contained in Sections 385 and 386 of the Code cannot be complied with and directed that the appellants were not to be arrested in pursuance of the judgment and order, and were not required to surrender also and the bail bonds were to be cancelled. Section 386 empowers the appellate court to order that the case be committed for trial and this power is not circumscribed to cases exclusively triable by the Court of Session.

Radha Ballabh & Ors. vs. The State of U.P.[9]

The evidence of these witnesses amply establishes that Lalit was kidnapped from his house by Smt Basanti and Radha Ballabh and they handed over the boy to accused Lalta Prasad, Raghubir and Bissu and they in turn kept the boy in those two villages and for longer time i.e nearly 20 to 25 days in the house of accused Devi Ram and Har Charan.

In the result, subject to the above minor modification of the conviction of accused Bissu from under Section 386 IPC to Section 387 IPC, all the other convictions and sentences awarded to all the appellants are confirmed and all the appeals are dismissed 

Sec 387: Putting person in fear of death or of grievous hurt, in order to commit extortion:

Putting or attempting to put any person in fear of death or of grievous hurt in order to commit extortion has been punished under this section.

Thus, the use of the words ‘in order to the committing of extortion’ show that commission of extortion is not necessary. The offender must put or attempt to put any person in fear of death or of grievous hurt to that person or to any other person. This offence is different from the offence of attempted robbery under section 393. Under section 387 the fear is of death or of grievous hurt while in section 393 the fear is of instant death or instant hurt or instant wrongful restraint under which the thing extorted must be delivered then and there. [10]

Facts to be proved:

1. The Person accused, by his conduct, had threatened the victim, by putting him in fear that,

2. If the victim failed to deliver –

  • a property, or
  • a valuable security, or
  • a instrument signed or sealed, which is in the nature of a valuable security,

3. To a Person,

4. The said victim, or any other Person, would face death or would face grievous hurt.

Instances under sec 387:

Thus where the accused wrote a threatening letter to the complainant that to save his own life and the life of his child he must pay a ransom money amounting to sixteen thousand rupees, it was held that the accused had committed an offence under section 387. In another instance, it was ruled that feigning of an attempt to commit suicide in order to extort money would be an offence under this section.

Classification of offence:

The offence under section 387 is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by magistrate of the first class.

Punishment:

The section states that whoever either puts or attempts to put any person in fear of either death or of grievous hurt to that person or to any other person, in order to the committing of extortion, shall be punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Cases:

Henry Wertmuller Roberts, etc. vs. State of Assam & ors. Etc [11]

The result in this case was that the High Court found Henry guilty under Sections 302, 364, 201 and 387 IPC and not guilty under Section 120-B IPC and maintained the sentence awarded to Henry by the Sessions Court except in regard to the offence under Section 120-B IPC and acquitted the other three accused persons in full.

Thakur Ram v. The State of Bihar [12]

It is not alleged in the petition nor in the police report that the petitioners attack people at random, extort different amounts of money from them or do any criminal act or mischief The allegations make out a case that the petitioners had rightly or wrongly a grievance against some individuals of the Marwari community and they have been extorting money from them. Thus, the application is allowed and that proceeding is dropped.

Sec 388: Extortion by threat of accusation of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life, etc

Committing extortion by threat of accusation of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life has been made punishable under this section. It is an aggravated form of extortion.

According to this extortion must have been, committed by the offender after putting the person extorted or any other person of an accusation that he had committed, or had made an attempt to commit, any offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term up to ten years, or he had made an attempt to induce any other person to commit such offence. The punishment may be imprisonment for life where extortion is committed by putting any person in fear of an accusation that he had committed an unnatural offence.

Classification of offence

The offence under this section is cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by magistrate of the first class.

Punishment [13]

The section states that whoever commits extortion by putting any person in fear of an accusation against either that person or any other, that he had committed or attempted to commit any offence punishable with death, or with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term extending up to ten years, or that he had attempted to induce any other person to commit such offence, shall be punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if the offence was one punishable under section 377, may be punished with imprisonment for life.

It is read along with section 377 of the Indian Penal Code according to which Unnatural offences.—Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Cases

Shakti Vahini vs. Govt. of Nct of Delhi

The order of the High Court has not been violated in any manner and it seems that the trial court has formed this impression only on account of the fact that the report has been signed by the ACP and as the guard file was not produced before the trial court.

Gurpreet Singh v. State of Punjab [14]

The following points were considered in this case:

  • Learned State counsel submitted that the petitioner has attempted to extort money from the complainant and he does not deserve to be granted regular bail.
  • The petitioner has been in custody for more than five months and the trial is not likely to be concluded at an early date no useful purpose would be served by keeping him in custody indefinitely.

Sec 389: Putting person in fear of accusation of offence, in order to commit extortion

This section punishes putting a person in fear of accusation of an offence in order to commit extortion. It states that whoever, in order to the committing of extortion either puts or attempts to put any person in fear of an accusation, whether against that person or any other person, that he had either committed, or attempted to commit an offence.

Explanation 1

The use of the words ‘in order to the committing of extortion’ shows that extortion may not be committed. But in order to it’s committing the offender puts or attempts to put any person in fear of an accusation whether against that person or any person. The accusation must be that he had committed or attempted to commit any such offence as is punishable with death, or imprisonment for life, or imprisonment up to ten years.

Explanation 2:

If the accusation is that he had committed an unnatural offence the punishment will be severer and may extend to imprisonment for life.

Classification of Offences:

  • According to Explanation 1 – This section is Non-bailable, Cognizable and Non-compoundable.
  • According to Explanation 2 – This section is Bailable, Cognizable and Non-compoundable.
  • Triable By: Magistrate of the first class.

Punishment:

  • According to Explanation 1 – Imprisonment for 10 years and fine.
  • According to Explanation 2 – Imprisonment for life or in simple words, if the offence is punishable under section 377, it may be punished with imprisonment for life.

Case:

Shyam Sunder Matya v. State of Haryana [15]

Without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the interim bail granted by the Court vide order dated 21.07.2015, is made absolute, subject to furnishing bail bonds/surety bonds to the satisfaction of learned Chief Judicial Magistrate/Duty Magistrate, concerned. Further, the voice samples obtained by the authority and matched by the CFSL shall be analyzed by the trial court. The petition stands allowed.

Conclusion

Maintenance of peace and order is essential in any society for humans to live peacefully and without fear of injury to lives, limbs and property. The chief concern of law is to protect and preserve certain fundamental social values and institutions, and for this, it prescribes a set of norms of human behaviour and forbids certain conducts; and prescribes punishments for the disregards of such norms and conducts

Normally, a crime is committed by joining of hands by several persons; and ordinarily, two or more than two persons are always involved in any commission of crime. In many of such cases, there could be such persons who act behind the curtains, i.e. although they do not positively participate in the commission of the crime / offence, but they actively participates in the occurrence of the offence, by sharing the “common intention” as suggested and defined under section 34 of IPC; or by way of “abetment” as suggested and defined under section 107 to 116 of IPC; or by way of “criminal conspiracy” as suggested and defined u/s 120A of IPC, 1860.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Do rich people in developed countries often face extortion or security threats?

Force entry through one of the bulletproof doors or windows and you’ll trigger hidden shotguns loaded with non-lethal ammo. If somehow you’re still standing, the owner can retreat to a hidden, fortified room where he can flood the rest of the house with tear gas. Other security features include biometric scanners and trap doors. The fortress cost its owner $10 million to build. It highlights just how concerned the ultra-wealthy are about their safety, and how much they’re willing to pay to protect themselves.

For example, Mark Zuckerberg opened up about the threats made against him by ISIS supporters. Sears chairman and billionaire Eddie Lampert was famously abducted in 2003. Successful banker Ernest Rady was bound and shot with a stun gun during a robbery at his home. A camouflaged man tried to break into the home of Warren Buffett. He was fought off by an alert guard, which is a common security measure of the affluent.

Also loyal are the guard dogs. These aren’t mutts from the classifieds though. These are specially trained German Shepards that can run up to $55,000 each. The valuable canines receive years of intensive training to greet their owners with wagging tail but enemies with a vicious bite.

Alarm systems, cameras at every entrance and safe rooms where the rich can take refuge behind steel doors are the norm. Some of the more expensive setups cost more than $1 million. Just in case the worst happens, there’s kidnapping and ransom insurance. Annual premiums for particularly high-risk individuals can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Then there’s the Taser-armed robots. Mitch Gitter of Defender Security Services, a New York security firm, recently outfitted houses of a couple well-to-do clients with these high-tech defenders. The robots, which cost $15,000 each, automatically track down an intruder and incapacitate him or her with a high-voltage energy pulse.

Also there are firms and organizations to take care of the security managed by an elite team of highly respected, seasoned security professionals solving client concerns ranging from personal to technical to wealth.

2. Is a demand letter for unpaid wages that threatens to sue or file a claim/report their activity considered extortion if you aren’t a lawyer?

Each state has a statute defining extortion. One should look it up for the state in which you are trying to collect the unpaid wages. These laws apply just as much to lawyers as to everybody else, and besides the potential criminal liability, it is considered unethical and can result in disbarment.

It is immaterial to a charge of extortion that you may be entitled legally to what you are demanding, so you aren’t protected by the fact that your wages really are owed to you. The key elements are using unjustified threats to get someone to give you something against his or her will.

It is not extortion to threaten to sue for your wages due, or to threaten to file a claim with a government agency responsible for enforcing wage laws, or to threaten that you will ask for additional remedies that might be available by those means, such as double or treble wages (an option that may be available in some states) or attorney fees. Those threats are justified — they flow directly from the harm done to you and are legal remedies you can pursue.

It is extortion to threaten to report someone to the police for breaking a law: “If you don’t pay me my wages I’ll report you to the police for embezzling funds from the company.” That’s extortion, whether or not the embezzlement is actually happening. You can report the embezzlement, but you can’t threaten to do so in order to get money or any other thing of value, like a promotion, or use of the company car or whatever.

It is certainly extortion to threaten violence to person, family or property or unjustified confinement/restraint in order to get money.It can also be extortion to threaten severe financial harm: “If you don’t pay me my wages, I’ll tell the newspapers that your company failed three health inspections this year but kept it undercover by bribing the inspector.” The threat to “tell” is not illegal, the “telling” might be protected under whistleblowing statutes or policies, but using the threat to get money is what makes it extortion.It could also be extortion to threaten some other harm unrelated to your claim: “If you don’t pay me my wages, I’ll use my contacts with the Admissions office to make sure your daughter doesn’t get into that college you want her to go to.” [16]

3. Can someone phrase taxes in a way that makes it seem like it isn’t theft/extortion?

It’s sort of how being charged a fare to ride public transit isn’t theft. Think about the country as a great big cooperative undertaking, and it costs something to do. Don’t like it? It’s not compulsory to be on the bus, in the same way it’s not compulsory to be in the country. But what is compulsory is paying the fare, conditionally: if you want to be on the ride. Want to be in the country, receive the benefits of being in it, and do taxable things like engage in business, trade, commerce? There’s a cost associated with provisioning the infra, the services, the benefits you take for granted, and if you want to receive them there’s a price. That’s the social contract, it’s not something you might have agreed to or personally signed, and if you don’t want to be bound by it.

Living here, you get the roads, the fire services, the police protection, the availability of safety-tested/quality-monitored foods and pharmaceuticals, the sort of economic opportunity and security available in developed countries. They’re part of the package deal, in much the same way cable TV bundles channels you might never watch. None of them are free, and taxes are the price. [17]

In this context, in which the individual has the choice to participate in the social contract or find a better one, which is the theft? Free-riding, or being required to pay for the ride? Thus, in the end, being in a country that does stuff for you is valuable, but comes at a price.

4. What is the punishment for blackmailing a person who is doing wrong in India?

Blackmailing is not offence under IPC. It can be either extortion or criminal intimidation.

Sec 383.   Extortion.—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’’.

Punishment of extortion varies depending upon the magnitude of offence. Sec 384 to Sec 389 provides the punishment in various cases as discussed above.

Criminal intimidation:

Sec 503. Criminal intimidation.—Whoever threatens another with any injury to his person, reputation or property, or to the person or reputation of any one in whom that person is interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threat, commits criminal intimidation.

Explanation.—A threat to injure the reputation of any deceased person in whom the person threatened is interested, is within this section.

Illustration A, for the purpose of inducing B to desist from prosecuting a civil suit, threatens to burn B’s house. A is guilty of criminal intimidation.

Punishment of criminal intimidation:

Sec 506. Punishment for criminal intimidation.—Whoever commits, the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprison­ment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both;

If threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, etc.—And if the threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, or to cause the destruction of any property by fire, or to cause an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or to impute, unchastity to a woman, shall be punished with imprison­ment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.

Sec 507. Criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication.—Whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication, or having taken precaution to conceal the name or abode of the person from whom the threat comes, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, in addition to the punishment provided for the offence by the last preceding section.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

References:

[1] Pinki Sarkar, Section 388 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!, http://www.shareyouressays.com/knowledge/section-388-of-indian-penal-code-1860-explained/118682, (last visited on Jan,23,2017,5:00PM)

[2] The Practice of Law, http://thepracticeoflawjalan.blogspot.com/, (last visited on March 13, 2017)

[3] 1996 SCC (4) 720

[4] Jharkhand High Court (19 Oct, 2016)

[5] Rajasthan High Court (14 Nov, 2013)

[6] Ratanlal and Dhirajlal, Indian Penal Code, Thirty-Fifth Edition

[7] Writing Law, Extortion (383-389) of IPC, https://www.writinglaw.com/extortion-383-389-chapter-xvii-of-ipc/, (last visited on Mar,21,  2018)

[8] Supreme Court of India

[9] 1996 (2) BLJR 800

[10] Aarti Dhillon, EXTORTION, https://itsmehappening.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/extortion/, (last visited on June 28, 2017)

[11] 1985 AIR 823

[12] 1966 AIR 911

[13] Dhillon,supra note 10

[14] Punjab and Haryana High Court (April 3, 2018)

[15] K.D. Gaur, Textbook on Indian Penal Code, Sixth Edition 2015

[16] Pearl York, Is a demand letter for unpaid wages that threatens to sue or file a claim/report their activity considered extortion if you aren’t a lawyer? , https://www.quora.com/Is-a-demand-letter-for-unpaid-wages-that-threatens-to-sue-or-file-a-claim-report-their-activity-considered-extortion-if-you-arent-a-lawyer, (last visited on July 23, 2018)

[17] Chris Joosse, Can someone phrase taxes in a way that makes it seem like it isn’t theft/extortion?,https://www.quora.com/Can-someone-phrase-taxes-in-a-way-that-makes-it-seem-like-it-isnt-theft-extortion, (last visited on June 17, 2017)

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Akshita Piplani
I am Akshita Piplani pursuing LLB from New Law College, Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune.Apart from being a confident speaker, I am hardworking, meticulous and a keen learner.I have also participated in a plethora of competitions including debates,moot competition, ,quizes,etc.The injustices of the world bother me since childhood and I always wanted to be able to make a difference by helping people around me to find the right way to deal with maze of life.I have a great passion in Legal areas dealing with company law, intellectual property and drafting.I have the ability to stay calm under pressure with good time management skills.Besides learning stuff,I love playing badminton, watching good movies, love to sing and explore new music.It is my hope that my blog will encourage people to step out of their comfort zone allowing society to maintain the process of societal order and therefore it has a big impact on everyone's lives.