Criminal Intimidation: A Law Under The Indian Penal Code, 1860

Intimidation refers to putting a person in a position of fear to make them do something or not do something. Thus, an act of intentionally threatening a person or someone or something he has a vested interest in involve intimidation.

The purpose is to make them do something against the law for the intimidator’s profit or benefit. Intimidator might use words or actions to threaten and injure the victim’s body, property, reputation or family member.

Criminal Intimidation

Section 503 of IPC 1860 defines the offence of criminal intimidation. To commit the offence, a person intentionally threatens another with the fear of injury to his person, property or reputation to escape. The other person has to do an act that is against the law.

The Provision gets segregated into two for better understanding.

  • The primary portion talks about intentionally putting another person into the fearful situation to harm his person, reputation or property or to any such person’s reputation or property in whom that person has vested interested.
  • The secondary portion deals with the intent of the intimidator. Intent could further get divided into two.
    1. Intent that alarms the threatened victim
    2. Intent makes the victim commit an illegal act or not do something the victim is legally bound to do.

Essentials of Criminal Intimidation

The landmark judgment of Narender Kumar & Ors v. State laid down the following necessary ingredients to constitute the offence of criminal intimidation:

  • The threat of injury to the victim
    1. The threat of injury or harm to the victim’s body, reputation or property.
    2. The threat of injury or harm to any person or such person’s body, reputation or property in which victim has vested interest
  • Intention
    1. Threat intended to alarm the victim.
    2. Committing an act against the law to escape the threat
    3. Omitting an act otherwise required by law to escape the threat

Punishment for Criminal Intimidation

Section 506 contains the punishment for the offence of criminal intimidation. These are:

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 the hurt, grievous hurt or the death of the threatened person or destruction of any property by fire, he/she shall get imprisoned for a max of seven years or fine or both.

The Threat is to impute chastity to women.

If the threat leads to the chastity of women, the accused shall get 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 caused 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 gets committed through an anonymous communication or the accused has taken the precaution to hide his name or residence, the accused shall get punished with imprisonment of either description for a term that may extend to two years.

It shall be in corollary to the preceding Section 506. Such type of intimidation even gets referred to as an aggravated form of criminal intimidation.

Difference between Extortion and Criminal Intimidation

In common parlance, the offences of Extortion and Criminal Intimidation are often confused.

In Extortion, the primary objective is to extort money or other valuables from the victim. In Criminal Intimidation, the intimidator induces the victim to do or omit an act otherwise required.

The difference could get highlighted in the case of Ramesh Chandra Arora v. State. The Court charged the appellant with criminal intimidation to threaten Mr X with his daughter’s reputation by publicizing her nude photographs unless he paid the hush money. Hence, the Apex Court convicted him under Section 506 of IPC.

Inducing person to believe that he will get rendered an object of the Divine displeasure

Such an aggravated form of criminal intimidation gets covered under section 508. The requisite features of the said legal provision are as follows:

  1. The accused voluntarily causes or attempts to induce anyone to perform an illegal act or omit any act otherwise entitled to do.
  2. Inducing the person
  3. Accepting that if he restrains from doing the act as the intimidator asks, the victim or person he has vested interest, might render to an object of Divine displeasure.

IPC punishes such an act with imprisonment for a maximum of one year, fine or both. Further, 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 the cases and provide punishments. It ensures that justice prevails. It 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.

Criminal Law