Declared: Section 506 IPC Penalty for Criminal Intimidation
The author in this article has explained the nuances of Section 506 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) with the help of precedents and scientific studies
Section 506 of the Indian Criminal Code
506. Penalty for criminal intimidation. – Whoever does it Offense of criminal intimidation is punished with imprisonment for a period of up to two years or with a fine or both;
If the threat is to cause death or serious injury, etc. – and if the threat is to cause death or serious injury, or cause the destruction of property by fire, or cause a crime punishable by death or 1 becomes[imprisonment for life]or imprisonment for a period of up to seven years, or to accuse a woman of unchastity, is punishable by imprisonment for a period of up to seven years or a fine or both.
Section 503 IPC defines criminal intimidation and Section 506 IPC is the criminal provision that prescribes the punishment for the offense committed under Section 503 IPC.
Before understanding the definition of punishment for criminal intimidation, it is important to decipher what criminal intimidation constitutes. Threatening someone’s life and reputation is treated with great seriousness under IPC. Section 503-510 of the IPC defines various types of criminal intimidation offenses and provides a punishment for them.
Basics of Section 503 IPC
in the Narendra Kumar & Others Vs. State (2004) [i] The Delhi Supreme Court pointed this out essential ingredients a criminal offense according to § 503IPC
1. There is a risk of injury
a) To a person
b) to his reputation; or,
c) to his property; or,
d) For the person or reputation of a person that person is interested in.
2. The threat must be on purpose
a) alert that person; or,
b) induce that person to take any action not required by law in order to avoid carrying out such a threat; or,
c) induce that person to refrain from acts to which that person is legally entitled in order to avoid the execution of such a threat.
The term “injury” is defined in Section 44 IPC and means any harm that is illegally inflicted on a person to the mind, body or reputation.
“Intention” is a mental state. Intent plays an important role in determining whether the accused is guilty and this can be determined in light of the facts and circumstances of the case.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, ‘intimidate’ means “(1) to be shy, scary, overwhelming; (2) coerce or deter with threats or violence.[ii]
“Threat” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “Threoton to Lire” (harassment). It is the declaration of intention to inflict punishment, loss, or pain on another.[iii]
The Orissa HC in Amulya Kumar Behera versus Nabaghana Behera alias Nabina (1995)) [iv] tried to explain the meaning of the term “alarm” used in this section. The court tells us that the use of the term alarm is fairly new and earlier words such as distress and terror were used.
Threat causes great emotional distress and anxiety in a person. Every threat is measured through the lens of a man of general steadfastness, a man of reason and shrewdness.
The Orissa HC noted that the level of alert may vary in different cases. Crucially, however, the alarm that is triggered should be such that it unsettles the mind of the person in whom it operates and loses control of their free volunteer actions.
The test, therefore, is whether the threat was so great and strong that it could overcome a man with normal nerves. If so, it would amount to criminal intimidation.
What is “criminal intimidation”?
In oneMulya Kumar Behera versus Nabaghana Behera (1995) [v], The applicant alleged that the defendant had abused him in dirty language and that if the witnesses had not intervened and saved him, the defendant would have inflicted more injuries than just a punch.
The applicant admitted that he was not worried by the defendant’s threat. The court found that setting off an alarm in the head of the threatened person is an essential part of attracting 506IPC and, since that vital element was missing, it was not criminal intimidation.
in the Romesh Chandra Arora versus State (1980)[vi] the accused threatened person X and his daughter for reputational damage by publishing nude pictures of the daughter until the money was paid to him. The court agreed that if these pictures were published, they would undoubtedly endanger the reputation of the girl and her father.
The court also found that the defendant intended to alert X so that, after he was threatened, X could give in to all of his demands and give him the money to ensure that the defendant would take the threat of these images on public platforms would publish, not run. This constituted criminal intimidation as it set off sufficient alarms for X.
in the Manik Taneja versus Karnataka State (2015) [vii] In this case, the applicant had an accident, she collided with an auto rickshaw, a passenger with car injuries. She paid the cost of the hospital and the matter was settled amicably. She was later called to the police station, alleging that the police had behaved badly to her and threatened her with allegations of rash and negligent driving. Affected, she posted comments on the Bangalore Traffic Police’s Facebook page, accusing the police inspector of harassment and harsh behavior.
As a result, FIR was filed against the complainant in accordance with § 506 and § 353 IPC.
The Supreme Court ruled that the mere utterance of words with no intent to sound the alarm would not be sufficient to bring about the application of Sections 503 and 506 of the IPC. The complainant had no intention of sounding the alarm.
in the Surinder Suri versus State of Haryana[viii], Punjab and Haryana HC determined that the core of the IPC Section 503 crime is the effect the threat is intended to have on the mind of the person threatened. The threat must be one that can be carried out by the threatening person. A mere vague assertion by the defendant that he will take revenge on false complaints cannot constitute criminal intimidation.
In a recent case of Shri Padma Mohan Jamatia Vs. Smt. Jharna Das Baidya (2019)[ix] Tripura HC considered that the mere use of abusive language, dirty language and posture during a political leader’s speech did not fall within the scope of criminal intimidation provisions under the IPC.
Section 506 IPC: Analysis
Section 506 IPC can be divided into two categories:
1. The first part deals with simple cases of criminal intimidation that can be punished with a prison term of up to two years or a fine or both.
Classification of the offense– The offense is not recognizable, composable and punishable.
Triable by- Every judge.
2. The second part of the section deals with a comparatively more serious form of criminal intimidation
If the threat is to be caused-
a) death or serious injury;
b) Destruction of property by fire;
c) to cause an offense punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years or life imprisonment or death;
d. Ascribing unchastity to a woman.
In such a case the punishment would be simple or severe imprisonment of up to seven years. or a fine; or both
Classification of the offense– This part is not recognizable, punishable and cannot be assembled.
Triable of– First class magistrate.
The essence of the second part of Section 506IPC is that there is a risk of causing either death or serious injury.
in the Ghanshyam Vs. Madhya Pradesh State (1989) [x]At night the accused entered the house with a knife. He threatened to kill the residents. This was considered criminal intimidation under Part II of the provision.
in the Subramanian Swamy (Dr.) vs. C. Pushparaj, (1998) [xi] In this case, a complaint was filed against a speech by the petitioner which the complainant under 506 IPC found offensive and threatening
The court found that an offense amounting to criminal intimidation needs to be checked to see who it is addressed to, whether the alarm has been raised and what words are actually used. The mere mention of sections and hiring a person in court is nothing but abuse of legal process. The court ruled that a mere outburst was not enough to claim he was involved in Sec. 506
The above discussion makes it clear that the immediate purpose of criminal intimidation is to induce or refrain from doing something that the person was not legally required to do or had to refrain from doing. It is therefore a criminal offense. Section 506 is the section of punishment that defines the punishment for the offense of criminal intimidation; the offense itself is defined in s. 503. Section 506 of the IPC is divided into two categories, which are lesser and more serious forms of criminal intimidation, and therefore punishments are made accordingly. The IPC explicitly sets out the crime of criminal intimidation and tries to cover all facets of criminal intimidation.