Intimidation refers to intimidating a person to coerce them to act in a manner against their will. Thus, an act of intentionally threatening a person or someone or something he has a vested interest in involves intimidation.
The purpose of the threat is to make the threatened party act against their will to benefit or profit from certain actions. Intimidators may use words or actions to threaten and injure the victim’s body, property, reputation or family member.
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Section 503 of IPC 1860 defines the offence of criminal intimidation. To commit the offence, a person intentionally threatens another person with the fear of injury to his person, property, or reputation to escape. The other person has to perform an act that is against the law.
The provision is segregated into two subcategories for superior understanding:
- The primary portion focuses on intentionally intimidating another person of bodily harm, reputation, or property or to any such person’s reputation or property in whom that person has vested interest.
- The secondary portion focuses on the intent of the intimidator. Intent could further categorised into two subcategories:
- Intent alarming the threatened victim
- Intent to make the victim commit an illegal act or not do something the victim is legally bound to do.
Essentials of Criminal Intimidation
The landmark judgement of Narender Kumar & Ors v. State laid down the following necessary ingredients to constitute the offence of criminal intimidation:
- Threat of injury to the victim
- The threat of injury or harm to the victim’s body, reputation, or property.
- The threat of injury or harm to any person or such person’s body, reputation, or property in which victim has vested interest
- Threat intended to alarm the victim.
- Committing an act against the law to escape the threat
- Omitting an act otherwise required by law to escape the threat
Punishment for Criminal Intimidation
Section 506 details the punishment for the offence of criminal intimidation as follows:
In the case of simple criminal intimidation
Imprisonment up to 2 years or fine or both.
Hurt, grievous hurt, or death of the threatened person
If the intimidator’s threat leads to hurt, grievous hurt, or death of the threatened person or destruction of any property by fire, he/she shall be imprisoned for a maximum of 7 years or fine or both.
Threat to violate chastity to women
If the threat is to violate the chastity of women, the accused shall be imprisoned for up to 7 years or a fine or both.
The offence to be tried under this section is non-cognizable, bailable, compoundable, and triable by any magistrate. However, If the threat leads to death or grievous hurt, it shall be tried by the magistrate of the first class.
Criminal intimidation by anonymous communication
Section 507 states that if the offence of criminal intimidation is committed through anonymous communication or the accused has taken the precaution to hide his name or residence, the accused shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term that may extend to 2 years.
This act is in corollary to the preceding Section 506. Such type of intimidation is even referred to as an aggravated form of criminal intimidation.
Difference between extortion and criminal intimidation
Extortion and criminal intimidation are mistaken for one another. In extortion, the primary objective is to extort money or other valuables from the victim. In criminal intimidation, the intimidator induces the victim to perform an act against his will.
The difference could be highlighted in the case of Ramesh Chandra Arora v. State. The Court charged the appellant with criminal intimidation to threaten Mr X by besmirching his daughter’s reputation by publicising her nude photographs unless hush money was paid. The Apex Court convicted him under Section 506 of IPC.
Inducing a person to believe that he will become an object of divine displeasure
Such an aggravated form of criminal intimidation is covered under Section 508. The requisite features of the said legal provision are as follows:
- The accused voluntarily causes or attempts to induce a person to perform an illegal act or omit any act otherwise entitled to do.
- Inducing the person to act against his will by invoking the fear of God
- Accepting that if he restrains from doing the act as asked, the victim may invoke divine displeasure.
IPC punishes such an act with imprisonment for a maximum of 1 year, fine, or both. Furthermore, the offence could be classified as non-cognizable, bailable, and compoundable, by the person against whom the offence was committed and triable by any magistrate.
The primary aim of the IPC is to provide a legal framework to try cases and provide punishments. The act ensures justice prevails and tends to define various crimes known to humanity.
One such crime is criminal intimidation. According to the Code, when an accused threatens the victim to harm his reputation, body, and property, or another person he has a vested interest in, such an offence is criminal intimidation.
How is criminal intimidation proved?
If the accused tends to alarm the victim with threats caused, then it proves the criminal intimidation.
Can an accused be arrested for the said offence?
Yes, criminal intimidation is arrestable.
Is criminal intimidation a cognizable offence?
No. It is non-cognizable.
Is section 506 bailable?
Yes. It is bailable.