In the Patna High Court Case No. Criminal Revn. No. 439 of 1940 Equivalent Citation: AIR 1941 PAT. 129 Appellants Jadunandan Singh & anr. Respondent Emperor Decided on 18th September, 1940 Bench Dhavle, J.
The petitioners Jadunandan, Alakh, and two others were convicted by the Magistrate under §§383 and §324 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, respectively for assaulting and forcefully taking thumb impression of Narain Dusadh, who was gorait of a landlord on a blank paper, and of Sheonandan Singh, who was gomasta of a landlord on three blank papers. Jadunandan Singh was sentenced under §383 of Penal Code to six months rigorous imprisonment, and Alak was sentenced to four months rigorous imprisonment under S. 324 of Penal Code.
An appeal was made to Additional Sessions Judge of Gaya but was dismissed by him. So, the second appeal according to hierarchy was filed at High Court of Patna and the same was admitted by Varma J., of this Honorable Court.
Statute and provisions involved:
Sections 383 and 352 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- Whether presence of fear of injury should be proved in order to convict accused under Section 383 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 or not?
Facts of the Case:
Narain Dusadh and Sheonandan Singh were returning after inspection of the fields and suddenly Jadunandan Singh, Alakh, Raghu Kahar, and Chander Singh came out of an ahar and ravished both of them brutally with bhala and lathis.
After assaulting both of them Jadunandan took thumb impressions of Narain on one and Sheonandan on three blank papers. Due to violation of their basic human rights Narain and Sheonandan filed a suit against four of them in trial court in which all of them were convicted.
Contentions of both the parties:
Counsel on behalf of petitioner: D.P. Sinha and R.P. Jaruhar
It was contented on behalf of petitioners that no offence under section 383 of Penal Code was committed by Jadunandan as the essential ingredient of extortion according to its definition in section 383 is that victim should be in fear of any injury or danger, and in the present case the same hasn’t happened. It was mere “forcible taken” of thumb impression which is not punishable under 383 of Penal Code.
The petitioners also contended that trial court in its order accepted the fact that Jadunandan and three others have caught the wrist of the victims and then forcefully thumb impressions of both the parties were taken, which in itself is a proof that no imminent fear of injury was there and it is a case of physical compulsion.
Counsel on behalf of respondents: Assist. Government Advocate, Raj Kishor
It was brought to the attention of the lordship that in the case of Batisa Singh V. Emperor in which the court held that if the accused intentionally holds the victim until he gives his thumb impression can amount to fear of injury, and in this case as the victims were assaulted by bhalas and lathis, it can be a ground of threat which may compel the victim to give his thumb impression.
It was held by the court that for invoking the grounds of section 383 of Penal Code, 1860 it must be proved by the victims that there was fear of injury or damage and due to which he/she has unwillingly gave his/her thumb impressions on a paper which can be converted into valuable security. In this case the act of petitioners cannot amount to ‘extortion’ as the essential to invoke this ground is that person must be in a fear of injury and in the present case neither Narain nor Sheonandan were in fear or threat of injury.
It is a case of physical assault and not of extortion and hence Jadunandan was sentenced under Section 352 of Penal Code, 1860 to rigorous imprisonment of 3 months and a fine with of Rs. 100 with two months rigorous imprisonment in case of default.
Overview of the judgment
The judge must have considered the fact that Narain and Sheonandan were already assaulted by Jadunandan and three others by lathis and bhalas, so this fact in itself competent to prove that they were having weapons with them and their intentions was definitely to cause harm to them, otherwise they wouldn’t have assaulted them when there was no one present with them. This showcases the need for further appreciation of the evidence submitted before the Hon’ble Court.
Concepts Highlighted in the Case
Most essential ingredient or point that was highlighted in this case was that in order to invoke Section 383, victim must have to establish the fact that at the time when he was giving his thumb impression or signing a paper which can be converted into a valuable security, he was under fear of injury.
So, fear of injury forms the basis in order to charge a person under “extortion”.
It can be concluded that that in order to prove charges of extortion prosecution has to establish the fact that there was fear of injury present at the moment when thumb impressions were taken by accused on a paper which can be converted into valuable security; otherwise it will be mere execution of physical or criminal assault.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. AIR 1932 PAT. 335: 140 I C 752 : 34 CrLJ81: PLT 588
2. AIR 1921 PAT. 129
 AIR 1932 PAT. 335: 140 I C 752 : 34 CrLJ81: PLT 588