EXTORTION

Explain briefly the offence of Extortion given under section 383 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and also discuss the difference between offence of extortion and offence of theft.

According to our Indian Legal System, every person has right to property and if any person owns any property, then along with the right of ownership, that person acquires various other rights like right of possession, right of alienation etc. According to right of alienation, the owner of property has right to dispose off his property either by sale, gift or will. He can dispose of his own property voluntarily and no one can force him to transfer his property. If any third person compels another person to transfer his property by putting that latter person in fear of injury, then in such a case, that former person can be held liable for having committed the offence of extortion.

Section 383 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, deals with the provisions of Extortion and this law has been enacted by the legislature to protect the right of ownership as well as right of possession of an innocent person. According to section 383 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, if any person puts another person in the fear of injury or any other person in whom the latter person is interested with a view to induce the latter person to transfer his property, valuable security or any other document that can be converted into valuable security, then the former person can be held liable for having committed the offence of Extortion given under section 383 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

According to this section, an accused can be held liable only if he induces another person dishonestly. If the element of ‘dishonestly’ is absent then in such a case, an accused cannot be held liable for having committed the offence of extortion given under section 383 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

In the leading case of R.S. Nayak vs. A.R. Antulay (SC 1986), the Hon’ble Court held fear or threat should be used for extortion, and if there is no fear of injury or threat then an act would not amount to extortion.

According to the provisions of section 383 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, there are four main ingredients of extortion given under section 383 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, and these ingredients are as follows: –
• Putting a person in fear of injury or threat
• Fear must be caused intentionally
• Fear must be caused with view to induce a person to transfer his property
• The inducement must be done dishonestly

According to the provisions of section 383 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, in case of extortion, to secure the punishment to offender, it is necessary for the prosecution to prove that the accused has intentionally put the victim in fear of injury or threat and induces him to transfer his property or valuable security. If prosecution fails to prove the element of intention, then in such a case benefit of doubt will be given to the accused person and the court will have to acquit him but if prosecution proves this element, then it will become very easy for the prosecution to secure punishment to the offender.

The offence of extortion is different from offence of theft in many aspects and the main differences between both the offences are as follows

Theft
(Section 378)
Extortion (Section 383)
In case of theft, property is taken by the accused out of the possession of another person without his consent In case of extortion, consent is obtained by the accused person wrongfully
According to section 378, only movable property is subject to theft According to section 383, both movable and immovable property are subject to extortion
In case of theft, the element of force is absentIn case of extortion, the element of force is present and it is used by the accused person
In case of theft, the factor of fear of injury or threat does not exist In case of extortion, the factor of fear of injury or threat does exist
In case of theft, property is taken out of the possession of another person by the accused In case of extortion, property is delivered to the accused by the victim due to fear of injury or threat
Section 378 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, is narrower in nature because it covers movable property only Section 383 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, is wider in nature because it covers both movable and immovable property

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