Extortion - Legal image
Extortion Under IPC
Definition of extortion under Section 383, IPC, 1860
“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 for extortion under Section 384:
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.

What causes extortion?

1.       A person must intentionally put any person in fear of injury
2.       Dishonestly inducing the person so put in fear to deliver to any person:
a)       property; or
b)       valuable security; or
c)       anything signed and sealed which can be converted into a valuable security
ILLUSTRATIONS:- ‘A’ threatens to publish a defamatory libel concerning Z unless Z gives him money. He thus induces Z to give him money. ‘A’ has committed extortion.
‘A’ threatens Z that he will keep Z’s child in wrongful confinement unless Z will sign and deliver to A  a promissory note binding Z to pay money to ‘A’. Z signs and delivers the note. ‘A’ has committed the offence of extortion.
a)    PUTS ANY PERSON IN FEAR OF ANY INJURYThe term ‘injury’ as defined under Section 44 of the IPC includes only such harm as may be caused illegally to a person’s mind, body, reputation or, property. It should be such so as to overpower the will of the person on whom it is exercised in such a way that the act (the act of delivery) does not remain voluntary, i.e., it affects the free consent of the person put under fear.
According to Ramjee Singh vs. State of Bihar, 1987 Cr LJ 137, ‘fear’ should be of such a nature that it unsettles the mind of the person on whom it operates, and takes from his acts the element of free voluntary action which alone constitutes consent.

What are some examples of extortion?

In the case of Abdulvahab Abdulmajib Shaikh vs. State of Gujrat, (2007) 4 SCC, it was held that a threat of criminal charge also amounts to extortion. It is immaterial if the charge is true or false, mere threat is enough. The threat need not even be to accuse in front of a judicial magistrate, a threat to charge him/her before any third person is more than enough.
In Queen vs. NathalircMirad, [(1844) 7 WR Cr 28] a threat to expose Bishop of his illegal relation with a woman was held to be extortion.
In Romesh Chandra Arora vs. The State (AIR 1960 SC 154), the accused took a photograph of a naked boy and a girl by compelling them to take off their clothes and extorted money from them by threatening to publish the photograph. He was held guilty of extortion.
In Kala v Ram Kishan, AIR 1985 SC 1286held, where the head-master of a school called a lady teacher to a place where he was alone and induces her to sign three blank papers by threatening an attack on her modesty is amounted to an offence of extortion.
b)  DISHONESTLY INDUCE THE PERSON TO DELIVER TO ANY PERSON ANY PROPERTY: Dishonest inducement means that the person would not have otherwise agreed to part with his property and such parting causes him a wrongful loss. Further, the property must be delivered by the person who is threatened. Delivery of property or valuable security by the person put in fear is the essence of the offence of extortion. Property for the purposes of this section includes both movable and immovable property. Section 30 of the IPC defines the term ‘valuable security’ as: “a document which is, or purports to be, a document whereby any legal right is created, extended, transferred, restricted, extinguished or released, or who hereby any person acknowledges that he lies under legal liability, or has not a certain legal right.”
    Illustration: A, by putting Z in fear of grievous hurt, dishonestly induces Z to sign or affix his seal to a blank paper and deliver it to A. Z signs and delivers the paper to A. Here, as the paper so signed may be converted into a valuable security A has committed extortion
In Habib Khan v State, 1952 CrLJ 17 held, the threats under this section had nothing to do with the truth of the accusation. The guilt or innocence of the party threatened is immaterial.
Sections 386 and 388 provide the aggravated forms of extortion.
Section 386: Extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt– Whoever commits extortion by putting any person in fear of death or of grievous hurt to that person or to any other
Section 388: 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 life, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, or of having attempted to induce any other person to commit such offence.
Imprisonment of maximum ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Imprisonment of maximum ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and, if the offence be one punishable under section 377 of this Code, may be punished with imprisonment for life.
  • Sections 385, 387 and 389 (Inchoate offences) punish the accused for merely putting a person under fear of injury while sections 384, 386 and 388 punish a person for extortion or, fear of injury coupled with delivery of property. Punishing the accused for putting a person under fear of injury is like punishing him for attempt, because if delivery of property had taken place, the offence would have been complete.
Element of Difference
Property is taken away without the consent of the owner.
Consent is obtained wrongfully.
Nature of Property
Subject matter of theft is always a movable property
Property may be movable or immovable.
Fear Factor
There is no element of fear or threat.
Property is obtained by putting a person under fear of injury and thereby, inducing him to part with his property.
Delivery of property
There is no delivery of the property.
Property is delivered to

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