'Extortion' is thus defined in s. 383, I.P.C. : "whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that person J 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."
The main ingredients of the offence are :
(i) the accused must put any person in fear of injury to that person or any other person;
(ii) the putting of a person in such fear must be intentional;
(iii) the accused must thereby induce the person so put in fear to deliver to any person any property, valuable security or anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable security; and
(iv) such inducement must be done dishonestly. (Supreme Court of India
Dhananjay @ Dhananjay Kumar Singh vs State Of Bihar & Anr on 2 February, 2007)
From the plain reading of Section 383 coupled with definition of "injury", it is clear that there should not be any physical harm to body. Even harm to reputation and mind is an injury.
"injury" in Section 44 shows that it embraces only such harm to body, mind, reputation or property as may be caused illegally. DIVINE DISPLEASURE IS HOWEVER NOT AN INJURY CONTEMPLATED .
Bombay High Court
Sharad S/O Balkrushna Deotale vs State Of Maarashtra. Thr. P.S.O., P.S. ... on 21 February, 2019
All the illustrations show that even a threatening by journalists who are reporters to publish news in a newspaper to defame that person amounts to extortion. Illustration-A to Section 383 is very clear. It shows that "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. In the present case, the accused being a journalist threatened the complainant that he would complain the authority to demolish the houses constructed on the plots. He would not do so unless the complainant pays Rs.50,000/- to him. He induced the complainant to pay Rs.50,000/-. Therefore, the "extortion" as defined under Section 383 of the Indian Penal Code is rightly proved in the present case against the accused.
Patna High Court
Habib Khan And Anr. vs State on 18 December, 1951
High Courts in India as well as by Courts in England that the word 'injury' in such circumstances is not necessarily physical. Even a terror of a criminal charge whether true or false amounts to a fear of injury. The petitioners had threatened to take the complainant to the thana on a charge of theft. They, therefore, had put him in fear of an injury.
Supreme Court of India
R.S. Nayak vs A.R. Antulay & Anr on 17 April, 1986
Merely because the respondent was Chief Minister at the relevant time and the sugar co-operatives had some of their grievances pending consideration before the Government and pressure was brought about to make the donations promising consideration of such grievances, possibly by way of reciprocity, we do not think the appellant is justified in his contention that the ingredients of the offence of extortion have been made out. The evidence led by the prosecution falls short of the requirements of law in regard to the alleged offence of extortion. Before a person can be said to put any person to fear of any injury to that person, it must appear that he has held out some threat to do or omit to do what he is legally bound to do in future. If all that a man does is to promise to do a thing which he is not legally bound to do and says that if money is not paid to him he would not do that thing, such act would not amount to an offence of extortion.
Bombay High Court
Lalit Vilasrao Thakare (In Jail) vs State Of Maharashtra Thr. Police ... on 19 January, 2018
The expression "anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable security", employed under the provision of Section 383 of the Indian Penal Code, would not cover obtaining of signatures or thumb impression on different blank papers from the victims under the fear of causing injury for the reason that such papers cannot be converted into a valuable security. At the most such papers can be utilized for acknowledging the debts, if any, or incorporating an undertaking to pay the amount. In our view, there is no case made out for an offence of extortion under Section 383 of the Indian Penal Code.
Supreme Court of India
Chander Kala vs Ram Kishan And Anr. on 1 May, 1985
Headmaster of school called the victim and threatened to outrage her modesty if she didn't sign three blank papers. The accused was alone in the house and apprehending trouble she put her signatures in English and Gurumukhy on those three papers under pressure. She was thus forced to sign on each of the three blank papers at different places, whereupon the accused told her that he could malign and black-mail her by recording any kind of statement on those papers or she should act according to his wishes. Court held the accused guilty of extortion .
In the case of Batisa Singh V. Emperor[AIR 1932 PAT. 335] 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.
(Below judgment is wrong and does not lay down the correct law)
Jadunandan Singh & anr. vs. Emperor - decided on 18th September, 1940
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.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 accused 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.
Karnataka High Court
State Of Karnataka vs Basavegowda Alias Chandra on 4 December, 1996
The respondent-accused to this appeal was the husband of the complainant Bhagyamma and it was alleged that about 10 days after their marriage, on 30-4-1987, he took her to the Burudala Bore forest under the pretext of going for the wedding of a friend and that he threatened to kill her unless she parted with all her ornaments. Bhagyamma, finding no other option, removed all her jewellery valued at around Rs. 11,000/- and handed the same over to the accused who wrapped the same in a handkerchief and put it in his pocket. Thereafter, the accused is alleged to have assaulted her with a big stone whereupon, Bhagyamma screamed. The accused continued to assault her with his fists and seeing two other persons coming there, he ran away.
court held - "The accused is convicted in the first instance of the offence punishable under Section 325, I.P.C. and it is directed that he shall undergo R.I. for a period for two years. The accused is also convicted of the offence punishable under Section 384, I.P.C. and it is directed that he shall undergo R.I. for a period of two years."
Allahabad High Court
Chaturbhuj vs Emperor on 3 August, 1922
On the 29th April 1922 which was market day in the town of Chibramau, in the Farrukhabad District, Bachan Lal, a cloth merchant, was carrying on business in his shop. The applicant and another person came to the shop of Bachan Lal and said to him that if he continued to sell foreign cloth, they would put pickets on to his shop to prevent his doing so. Bachan Lal replied that as long as foreign cloth was available, he would sell it. The applicant and his companion then told him that, if he did so, he would be fined 5 per cent, of the value of his stock. He refused to pay the fin and pickets were accordingly put upon his shop who apparently without using actual violence, prevented effectively any customer reaching the shop of Bachan Lal for a matter of two hours. Owing to this circumstance he lost two hours trade and the consequent profit. After two hours he paid the fine, obeyed the order not to sell foreign cloth and was left unmolested for the time.
court held : " the word "picketting" has come to be associated with another word "boycotting" and when the boycotting is apt to proceed from ostracism to active annoyance and when the active annoyance has been known, in many instances, to culminate in bodily injury, then I take it that a man who is threatened with picketting and knows that picketting can be of such a nature, is put in fear of injury within the meaning of Section 385. It could never be suggested that a man had legally been put in fear of injury because he had been told that a respectable gentleman, who was the exponent of advanced religious views was coming to discuss his views with him. That would not put anybody in fear of injury legally. But when a man is told that certain men are going to watch his shop and he knows that, in many instances, the watching of shops not only leads to loss of business but has frequently led to loss of actual money and occasionally to personal injury to the shop-keeper, he legally must apprehend injury. "
Patna High Court
Emperor vs Fazlur Rahman on 20 December, 1929
Accused threatened to ask scandalous question to witnesses unless he was given a certain amount of money . The meaning of his threats was beyond question, to put such questions to Mr. H and the ladies of his household which were entirely irrelevant to the matters at issue, which were scandalous and indecent and which were intended to insult and annoy and such a threat with intent to extort is an offence under Section 385. He was held liable for extortion.
Court also held - " The offence of blackmail, as this is commonly called, is one of the most despicable offences known to the law and it is particularly dangerous in India, A mere threat to expose some alleged fact in the private family life of a witness, however, unfounded that allegation may be, is sufficient to deter a witness from going into the witness-box or make him part with money, and the prosecution of a person making such a threat requires the greatest moral courage on the part of the victim. The community has good cause to be grateful to the prosecutor in this case for having exposed and rendered powerless for the future a dangerous ruffian. The offence is the more grave in this particular case because it has been committed by a member of a hardworking and respectable profession in the course of professional activities. The profession itself needs to be protected from, such activities."
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEFT , EXTORTION , ROBBERY AND DACOITY
1.In case of theft, movable property is taken away without owner’s consent; in case of extortion, consent of the person is obtained wrongfully by coercion (overpowering the will of the victim); in case of robbery, the offender takes property without consent, robbery being the aggravated form of theft or extortion and in the case of dacoity also, there is no consent or it is obtained wrongfully.
2.Theft may occur only of movable property whereas, extortion may occur of movable or immovable property, and in the case of both robbery and dacoity, it may be committed with respect to immovable property, where it is in the form of extortion and not otherwise. There is no element of force or compulsion, in case of theft; force or compulsion exist in extortion, the person being put in fear of injury to himself or to any other persons.
3.There is no delivery of property by the victim, in theft; whereas there is delivery in extortion; in case of robbery and dacoity, there is no delivery if theft occurs during the course of robbery or dacoity.
4.Punishment for theft is imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine or with both (Section 379). Punishment for extortion is imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both (Section 384). Punishment for robbery is rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if the robbery be committed on the highway between sunset and sunrise it may be extended to fourteen years (Section 392). Punishment for dacoity imprisonment for life, or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine (Section 395).