Whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that person, 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”.
(a) A threatens to publish a defamatory libel concerning Z unless 2 gives him money. He thus induces Z to give him money. A has committed extortion.
(b) A threatens Z that he will keep Z’s child in wrongful confinement, unless Z will sign and deliver to A a promissory note binding Z to pay certain moneys to A. Z signs and delivers the note. A has committed extortion.
(c) A threatens to send club-men to plough Z’s field unless Z will sign and deliver to B a bond binding Z under a penalty to deliver certain produce to B, and thereby induces Z to sign and deliver the bond. A has committed extortion.
(d) A, by putting Z in fear of grievous hurt, dishonestly induces Z to sign or affix his seal to a blank paper and deliver it to A. Z signs and delivers the paper to A. Here, as the paper so signed may be converted into a valuable security, A has committed extortion.
Theft and extortion. Extortion is thus distinguished from theft-
(1) Extortion is committed by the wrongful obtaining of consent. In theft the offender takes without the owner’s consent.
(2) The property obtained by extortion is not limited as in theft to movable property only. Immovable property may be the subject of extortion.
(3) In extortion the property is obtained by intentionally putting a person in fear of injury to that person or to any other, and thereby dishonestly inducing him to part with his property. In theft the element of force does not arise.
Ingredients of Extortion :
1. ‘Puts any person in fear of any injury. – The ‘fear’ must be of such a nature and extent as to unsettle the mind of the person on whom it operates, and takes away from his acts that element of free voluntary action which alone constitutes consent. Thus threatening to expose a clergyman, who had criminal intercourse with a woman in a house ofill-fame in his own church and village, to his own bishop, and to the archbishop, and also to publish his shame in the newspapers, was held to be such a threat as men of ordinary to mness could not be expected to resist.
- Threat of criminal accusation. The terror of criminal charge, whether true or false, amounts to a fear of injury. 121 The guilt or innocence of the party threatened is immaterial. Even the threat need not be a threat to accuse before a judicial tribunal, a threat to charge before any third person is enough.
In the case of GIC Housing Finance Ltd vs The state of Maharashtra 2016 : Housing Loan taken by the complainant. Proceedings initiated by issuing notice under section 13 (2) of SARFAESI Act, 2002 would not amount to extortion.
2. ‘Dishonestly induces the person to deliver to any person any property’-
Delivery by the person put in fear is essential in order to constitute the offence of extortion. Where a person through fear offers no resistance to the carrying off of his property, but does not deliver any of the property to those who carry it off, the offence committed will be robbery and not extortion. The offence of extortion is not complete before actual delivery of the possession of the property by the person put in fear.
In the case of Chander Kala vs Ram Kishan 1985, in which headmaster of a school called a lady teacher to a place where he was alone and induced her to sign three blank papers by threatening an attack on her modesty, the Supreme Court held that it amounted to an offence under this section.
3. To any person. – It is not necessary that the threat should be used, and the property received, by one and the same person. The threat may be used by one person and the property must be delivered in consequence of such a threat, i.e., the delivery of property to the person who puts in fear of injury to the one who delivers that property is not necessary, it may be delivered to any person at the instance of the former and in consequence of the threat used. All those persons who use threat and to whom property is delivered will be liable for the offence of extortion.
4. Valuable security. – The thing delivered under this section may be any property or valuable security, or anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable security. Valuable security is defined in section 30 of the Code. The latter expression, i.e. anything signed or sealed denotes that even incomplete deeds may be the subject of extortion. If a minor boy is beaten and forced to execute a pronote, the person using such force would be liable under this section, but forcible taking of thumb impression on a piece of paper which can be converted into a valuable security does not amount to extortion but to an offence under section 352 of the Code. But incomplete deeds may be the subject of extortion. For instance, A signs his name to a promissory note in which date and amount etc. are not filled up and delivers it to B, the offence of extortion is committed because promissory note can be completed and used as valuable security.
Cases. – In a case where the accused took a photograph of a naked boy and a girl by compelling them to put off their clothes and extorted money by threatening them to publish the photograph, he was guilty of extortion.
Where P, a police officer arrested B and refused to accept bail until rupees 500 was paid and released him only when the amount demanded was paid, P was guilty of extortion. Where A obtains property from B by saying, “Your child is in the hands of my gang and will be killed unless you send us five thousand rupees”, A would be guilty under this section. A finds B’s brief case and writes to him that he will give it on payment of Rs. 500/-. If B pays Rs. 500 then A will be liable for extortion but if he does not pay then he will be liable for attempt to commit extortion and also for criminal misappropriation if he does not return the brief case.
In R.S. Nayak v. A.R. Antulay,’ it was held that for an offence of extortion, fear or threat must be used. Before a person can be said to put any person to fear of any injury to that person it must appear that he had 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.
In this case Chief Minister A.R. Antulay, asked the sugar co-operatives, whose cases were pending before the Government for consideration, to make donations and promised to look into their cases. It was held by the Supreme Court that these facts do not constitute the offence of extortion. There was no evidence at all that the managements of the sugar co-operatives had been put in any fear and the contributions had been paid in response to threats.
Compounding : The offences under sections 384 and 506 Part II IPC, 1860 are not compoundable under section 320 of the Cr PC, 1973. Therefore, the prayer of compounding the offences made by the complainant and Al in their joint application supported by their affidavits cannot be legally accepted.