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Essentials of Criminal Intimidation u/s. 506 IPC

In the case of Amulya Kumar Behera Vs. Nabaghana Behera @ Nabina and Ors. 1995 Crl.L.J. 3559, wherein the Supreme Court observed as under:-

Section 506, IPC deals with punishment for criminal intimidation.

Section 503 defines the said offence. It has following essentials.

(1) Threatening a person with any injury;

(a) to his person, reputation or property ; or

(b) to the person or reputation of any one in whom that person is interested.

(2) The threat must be with intent;

(a) to cause alarm to that person; or

(b) to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do as means of avoiding execution of such threat; or

(c) to cause that person to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do as means of avoiding execution of such threat.

Therefore, intention must be to cause alarm to the victim and whether he is alarmed or not is really of no consequence. But material has to be brought on record to show that intention was to cause alarm to that person.

Here expression of any words without any intention to cause alarm would not be sufficient to bring in application of Section 506, IPC. The gist of the offence is the effect which the threat is intended to have upon mind of person threatened.

It is clear that before it can have effect upon his mind it must be either made to him by the person threatening or communicated to him in some way.

The section has undergone a complete transformation since its first draft which, after enumerating certain offences such as murder, hurt, mischief, house breaking, unnatural offence and rape, made the offence inter alia, depend upon the causing of distress or terror to the person intimidated.

The word “distress” was naturally objected to, though the Law Commission defended its retention. (2nd Report, Section 417). The original clause was apparently taken from Russel’s Work on Crimes and it was both disjointed and incomplete.

The present section is practically new, and the substitute of the word “alarm” for distress and terror is intended to confine the offence only to cases where the effect thereof is to cause more pain than is covered by those words. The anxiety and mental anguish caused by an injury threatened may often be as or even greater than the actual injury.

Lord Ellenborough said “To make it indictable, the threat must be of such a nature as is calculated to overcome a firm and prudent man…The Law distinguishes between threats of actual violence against the person, or such other threats as a man of common firmness cannot stand against and other sorts of threats”.

Intention is a mental condition which has to be gathered from the circumstances of the case. The threat must be intended to cause alarm from which it follows that, ordinarily, it would be sufficient for that purpose.

The degree of such alarm may vary in different cases, but the essential matter is that it is of a nature and extent to unsettle the mind of the person on whom it operates and take away from his acts that element of free voluntary action which alone constitutes consent.

The case where the threat produces an alarm is comparatively a simple one, for all that has then to be proved is that threat was given and that the alarm was due to the threat; but where the threat has not that effect, it involves a question whether it was sufficient to overcome a man of ordinary nerves.

The Court may hold it to be an empty boast, too insignificant to call for penal visitation of Section 506. “Intimidate” according to Webster’s Dictionary means “(1) to make timid, make afraid, overawe; (2) force or deter with threats or violence, cow”.

Threat referred to in the section must be a threat communicated or uttered with intention of its being communicated to the person threatened for the purpose of influencing his mind.

Question whether threat amounts to a criminal intimidation or not does not depend on norms of individual threatened if it is such a threat as may overcome ordinary free will of a man of common firmness.

“Threat” is derived from Anglo-Saxan word “threoton to lire”, (harass). It is the declaration of an intention to inflict punishment, loss or pain on another,

“injury” is defined in Section 44. It involves doing of an illegal act. If it is made with intention mentioned in the section, it is an offence.

Whether threat was given with intention to cause alarm to the person threatened has to be established by evidence to be brought on record.

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