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Criminal intimidation, insult and annoyance under IPC 1860

The research is based on Criminal intimidation, insult and annoyance in India. It will include the essentials for the mentioned crime, legal provisions, punishment, development through case laws and their non- exhaustiveness with in current social and economical scenario in India. In the first section of research, the author will be broadly dealing with legal provisions related to mentioned crime and discuss their relevance and exhaustiveness in India. Further, the author suggests amendments that can be done by parliament to make the discussed provisions more oriented and with a purpose to serve people of India rather than being an act based on colonial attitude of British to rule India. Also, growing technology, growing society and with that growing crimes have outgrown provisions related to these crimes.

Relevant Legal Provisions In IPC For Criminal Intimidation, Insult And Annoyance

The substantive law governing criminal activities in India is Indian Penal code (IPC), 1860.
The provisions related to Criminal intimidation, Insult and Annoyance (herein referred as CIIA) has been dealt in chapter XXII of Code consisting of section 503-510. The chapter broadly describes five types of offenses.
  1. Criminal intimidation [Ss. 503, 506, 507]
    The offense of Criminal Intimidation is defined in section 503 of IPC. The Provisions states that any person who threaten another person on bellow mentioned grounds is liable for criminal intimidation:
    1. Threatens injury to his person
    2. Threatens injury to his reputation
    3. Threatens injury to his property
    4. Threatens injury to the person or reputation of anyone in whom the person has vested interest in order to make such person do any illegal act or omit any act he is legally authorized to do in order to escape such fear of threat.
To make one penalize for criminal intimidation the following two essentials must be fulfilled:
  1. There must be a fear of threat to a person's body, reputation and possession or to whom he is most concerned.
  2. The nature of fear of threat should be caused with the intention to abstain or to perform certain activities to avoid such threats.
However the supreme court in the case of Vikram Johar vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (2019) has observed that the mere act of abusing a person in a filthy language does not satisfy the essential ingredients of the offence of criminal intimidation. And in the case of Amitabh Adhar vs. NCT of Delhi (2000), it was held that a mere threat does not amount to criminal intimidation. There must be an intention to cause alarm to the person threatened.

Punishment Of Criminal Intimidation

Section 506 contains the punishment for criminal intimidation. It has divided the punishment on broad two classifications.
  1. Simple cases of criminal intimidation
    Punishment- imprisonment for a period which may extend to two years, or a fine, or both.
    Classification of offense- non-cognizable, bailable and compoundable offence.
    Triable by � any magistrate

  2. If the threat is to cause:
    death or grievous hurt; destruction of any property by fire; to cause an offence to be committed which is punishable with imprisonment up to a term of seven years, life imprisonment or death; to attribute unchastity to a woman.
    Punishment- the prescribed punishment is simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending to seven years; or a fine; or both.
    Classification of offense- non-cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable offence.
    Triable by- Magistrate of the First Class

Anonymous Chatter [ Section 507]

Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is an aggravated form of intimidation. This section covers instances wherein the intimidator commits the offence anonymously. This section states that whoever indulges into the act of criminal intimidation by anonymous communication or takes precautions to conceal his identity or abode, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend up to two years. This punishment is in addition to the punishment provided for the offence under Section 506 of the IPC, 1860.

Classification of offense - Bailable, non-cognizable and non-compoundable.
Triable by- Magistrate of the First Class

2. Intentional Insult [Ss. 504 And 509]

Such offense has been classified in two types
  1. Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace
    The provision states that any person who intentionally insults and as a consequence provokes any person, intending or knowing, that it is likely that such provocation will induce the person to break the public peace or indulge into the commission of some other offence, then such person shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend up to two years; or with fine; or both.

    Classification of the offence: Non-cognizable, bailable and compoundable by the person insulted
    Triable by: Any Magistrate
    Also, in case of Ramesh Kumar vs. Smt. Sushila Srivastava (1996), the Rajasthan High Court held that the manner in which the accused addressed the complainant was prima facie such that it depicts that the person was insulted and provoked. The term 'insult' means to either treat with offensive disrespect or to offer an indignity to the person. The inference has to be drawn not solely from words but also from the tone and the manner in which they were spoken.

  2. Intentional insult to modesty of women [section 509]
    Section 509 lays down that any phrases with the intention to insult the humility of women, expressed in the forms of words or sounds or gestures or objects used by any person on other women, such expressed modes of insults are heard or witnessed or that disturbs the privacy of women that person shall be held liable under said section.
    Punishment- simple imprisonment for a period that may not extend beyond three years and also with a fine.

    Classification of offense -bailable, cognizable and compoundable by women insulted or whose privacy was intruded, with the permission of the Court.

    Triable by any magistrate
    In the case of State of Punjab vs. Major Singh (1966), the offender indulged into an act of unnatural lust. He ruptured the hymen and caused a � tear inside the vagina of a seven and a half months old female child. The Supreme Court, in this case, held that the act of outraging the modesty of a woman was not restricted by the age of the victim. It was also not dependent on the fact that whether the victim knew or was conscious about the acts being performed on her. They held that the accused had committed the offence of outraging the modesty of a woman. Justice Bachawat held that the essence of a woman's modesty is her sex, which a female of tender age also possesses. The crux of the issue is the culpable intention of the offender. Justice Mudholkar stated that the reaction of the woman is not the sole criteria to see whether an act amounts to outraging the modesty of a woman.

  3. Statement which conduce public mischief [section 505]
    First clause of section states that any person who makes, publishes or circulates any statement or rumour or report with the intention
    1. To cause, or which is likely to cause, any officer, soldier, sailor or airman in the Army, Navy or the Air Force of India to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty;
    2. To cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the general public, or to any particular section of the public whereby any person may be convinced to commit an offence against the State or against public tranquillity;
    3. To incite, or which is likely to incite, any class or community of persons to commit any kind of offence against any other class or a community.
      Punishment- imprisonment which may extend up to the duration of three years; or with fine; or both.
      Classification of the offence: Non-cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable
      Triable by: Any Magistrate
  4. Inducing beliefs of becoming an object of divine displeasure [section 508]
    Any person deliberately attempts to cause or causes another person from abstaining to do a legal act and threatens to do an illegal act and makes the person trusted to induce or attempts to induce him for which if he does not commit the task required by the wrong-doer or that person nor anyone he is interested will be benefited on the objective of divine displeasure some acts are done by the offender such person can be held liable under Section 508 of the Indian Penal Code.

    Dharna and Traga are prevented by this section. Such acts are performed to cause a trust or belief in the persons to be compelled, that he's not doing a certain work, or doing a certain work will make him an object of divine displeasure.
  5. Misconduct by a dunken person [section 510]
    Any drunken person who is believed to be in an intoxicated state moves to a public place or any other place where he is not allowed to enter i.e. restricted zone or trespassed place. In such a place he causes any annoyance or disturbance to another person located there shall be held liable under Section 510 of IPC.
    Punishment- imprisonment for a period which may not be extended beyond twenty-four hours; or with fine Rs. 10/-; or maybe with both.
    Classification of offense- non-cognizable, bailable, non-compoundable
    Triable by- any magistrate

Non-Exhaustiveness Of Such Provisions

The particular law was made with aim to punish such offenses, but on detailed study of such provisions, it can be duly noted that there is urgent need of the provisions to be more inclusive and the punishments that hold a value in society. For example in criminal intimidation, there no provision explicitly mentioned for intimidate to suicide as a fear of threat. Manu such cases have been seen in young generation lately. Another example can be the punishment for misconduct of a drunken person,, 10 rupees practically hold no value in 21st century India as deterrent of any crime.

With technology develops, the destruction it can cause. The social media platforms are friendly enemies. This days the wrong-doer holds advantage over innocent by holding personal information Strict laws are governing cybercrime but the process is very lengthy and as time delays the mental pressure given by wrong-doers can lead to the death of the innocent. However, intimidation, annoyance, insult not only denotes mental hurts and also physical hurts on the body.

The author strongly believes that provisions related to such offense where, minor is the victim lacks are somewhere restricted. Minors don't have enough knowledge of law or basic reasonability to react in an appropriate way to such crimes. They might do things under such pressure that will anyway lead to their rest of life being subject to criminal proceedings or other social exclusion. The definitions in consideration of minors must be expanded and specifically oriented to cyber intimidation, insult and annoyance. Moreover, the punishment in case of minor should be strict to aptly act as a deterrent to such easy preys.

This chapter of IPC lacks way behind the needs of society. With evolving society the law needs to be constantly evolving. The definitions needs to be more inclusive and the punishment should be a deterrent in real sense. Many bills related to amendments have been brought up in parliament but they are still pending. It's high time the government and judiciary realizes that the scope of law must be ever- expanding and it's time for change. Since, change can't be brought up with a single sunrise, provisions like criminal intimidation, annoyance and insult needs to be in the list first as many cases related to these offenses but not explicitly included have been seen. The scope of such provisions needs to be expanded.

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