Criminal Intimidation, Insult, & Annoyance: A Legal Insight

    The primary purpose of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is to impose a legal sanction on various crimes in India. It is a common penal code that binds to all the people of India. The Indian Penal Code not only deals with penalties on bodily harms and crimes, it also covers the mental harms, which the innocents undergo. In such a way the twenty-second chapter of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 concerned with the illegal acts related to mental crimes that cause one to violate the law and infringement of peace. Like frightening or threatening a person with any injury on body or reputation; intention to insult any person or annoying activities.

    Chapter XXII

    Chapter XXII under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 contains a total of eight sections from Sections 503 to 510 which imposes legal sanctions on mental crime. This chapter describes five types of offences, including:

    • Criminal Intimidation [with the Sections 503, 506, and 507].
    • Deliberate insult to person and insulting modesty of a woman [Sections 504 and 509].
    • Statements conducing to mischief [Section 505].
    • Inducing belief of becoming an object of the divine displeasure [Section 508].
    • Misconduct in public by a drunken person [Section 510] )[1].

    Criminal Intimidation [Ss. 503, 506, and 507]:

    Criminal intimidation is a civil wrong or crime. There are certain sections mentioned under IPC, 1860 regarding activities and penalties of unlawful intimidation. Section 503 describes the act of illegal intimidation; Section 506 propounds the penalties of such activity; Section 507 describes the unknown communication of unlawful intimidation with a legal sanction.

    Meaning:

    ‘Intimidate’ means frightening or scaring and makes one oblige to do by threats; ‘crime’ means any action/offence that is punishable by law. Thus criminal intimidation refers to threatening or forcing an individual to make him obliged to do something illegal or to abstain from discharging any legal act. 

    Definition [s. 503]:

    Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 states criminal intimidation as, any individual frightens by causing damage to a person’s body, prestige/reputation, and property or on a particular person’s body, respect, and possession to whom he is much cared of with the intention to cause fear to that person. And with an intention to make an individual perform any act that is illegal or to make him quit from performing any act which he is legally authorized to do in order to escape from the fear of threat or commission of such criminal intimidation.

    Essentials:

    To make one penalize for criminal intimidation the following two essentials must be fulfilled:

    1. a) There must be a fear of threat to a person’s body, prestige, and possession or to whom he is most concerned.
    2. b) The nature of fear of threat should be caused with the intention to abstain or to perform certain activities to avoid such threats.

    Legal Sanction [s. 506]:

    Anyone made liable to be performed voluntarily of unlawful intimidation with the intention mentioned under Section 503 of IPC are penalized with imprisonment whether simple or rigorous which may extend to 2 years; or with a fine; or may be with both. This kind of offence is non-cognizable, bailable, compoundable, and triable by the magistrate before the court of law.

    If an act is not paused with a mere fear of threat and leads to death or grievous hurt or annihilation of property by fire may be punished with a death sentence or imprisonment of life or with imprisonment which may not extend to seven years. And engage in activity with an intent to unchaste imputation of women are made liable and punished with imprisonment of either description of a period which may not extend beyond seven years or with a fine or maybe with both mentioned under Section 506 of Indian Penal Code. This kind of offence is not compoundable and triable only by the first-class magistrate.

    Anonymous Chatter [s. 507]:

    After intensive development of technology sectors, these days’ unknown persons without any identity use those technologies and threaten one’s reputation through anonymous communication are dealt with cyber laws and also under Sections 503, 507 of IPC. Any person performs any misdemeanour mentioned under Section 503 of IPC through unknown sources as an anonymous communication, who is hidden and has taken appropriate measures to safeguard his identity and location, are penalized with imprisonment for a period that may extend to two years including the punishment stated under Section 506 of the Code.

    Intentional Insult [ss. 504 & 509]:

    Intentional insult is classified in two ways: scilicet, 

    (i) insult which prompts infringement of peace, and 

    (ii) insult to the humility of women through words or gestures. 

    (i) Intentional insult prompts to infringement of peace [ss. 504]:

    Section 504 of the IPC defines any person with the intention to insult, cause incitement to others, and knows that such an act makes them infringe the maintained public peace which fabricates a chance to perpetrate any other offence will be held liable under this section. Only vulgar abusive words that address others are considered and a mere abusive expression will not denote as an insult in this section. The incitement which leads to break or infringement of peace must be an immediate one.

    Essentials:

    1. a) Deliberate insult with the intention that must prompt a person;
    2. b) The offender must know such incitement can cause a break of public peace or a chance to rise of another offence. 

    To make one liable under Section 504, these two conditions should be satisfied.

    Penalty:

    Whoever found to be guilty of offences under Section 504 of IPC shall be imposed with legal sanction of imprisonment for a period which may not be extended beyond more than two years; or with fine; or maybe with both. This offence is non-cognizable, bailable, compoundable, and triable by Magistrate. 

    (ii) Intentional insult to modesty of women [s. 509]:

    Any phrases with the intention to insult the humility of women are 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 Section 509 of Indian Penal Code.

    Further, Sections 509A and 509B introduced by the Chhattisgarh State government deals with sexual harassment of women by relative but not being her husband threatens with an intention to insult her humility through words or gestures or sounds or objects shall be liable under Section 509A and deals with sexual harassment of women through technology by electronic mode on any digital communication including the internet with any objectives like transmission of any comment, request, image, etc. mentioned in Section 509B of the IPC that causes mental torture or extreme annoyance to women such wrong-doer shall be made liable under Section 509B.

    Essentials:

    The intention is one of the most important essentials in this section. The other essentials are the different modes of expressing such intentional insult. The insult of expressing the modesty or humility of women in the forms of words or sounds or gestures or to any object that annoys her much should be done by the wrong-doer. Such insults should also disturb the privacy of women. 

    Penalty:

    Whoever found guilty of committing a crime under Section 509 of IPC shall be penalized with simple imprisonment for a period that may not extend beyond three years and also with a fine. The offence under this section is cognizable, bailable, and compoundable by the woman (whose privacy was disturbed through insult by the offender) only after obtaining the permission of the Court and also triable by the Magistrate.

    Whoever found guilty of an offence under Section 509A of IPC will be penalized with rigorous imprisonment for a period of five years and not less than one year. Any person found guilty under Section 509B of IPC is punished with rigorous imprisonment for two years but not less than six months.

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    Statements which conduce public mischief [s. 505]:

    Section 505(1) of this 22nd chapter deals with the facts declared are conducive to public mischief.

    • Under Section 505(1)(a), any person with intention and voluntarily makes publications/circulations regarding facts on any defence officer from the navy, army, and air-force likely to cause or caused revolt or on the failure of performance of his duty shall be punished shall be liable with imprisonment for a period which may extend to three years or fine or maybe with both.
    •  In Section 505(1)(b), any person with an intention to make publications stating any panic or fear among citizens of the State or on such reference a person tends to perpetrate any misdeed towards the State shall be punished with imprisonment for a period that may be extended to three years or with a fine or maybe with both. 
    • Under Section 505(1)(c), any person with an intention to make circulations declaring to provoke which likely cause or caused actions to provoke any race or community of persons such provocation leads to the occurrence of any offence opposed to other class or race or community shall be punished with imprisonment for a period which may not extend beyond three years or fine or with both.
    • Section 505(2) is about the creation or promotion of a declaration of facts that tends to avenge other evil or misbehavior activities among different classes in the community. Any person with an intention makes a statement of publications on rumours and news which creates fear of danger and provokes peace leads to a series of revolts based on religion, race, birthplace, language, caste. Such persons are punished with imprisonment for a term that may not extend beyond three years or with a fine or maybe with both. 
    • Section 505(3) deals with the commitment of offence under Section 505(2) in the holy places or place of worship, etc. Any person with intention performs the offence in this Section 505(2) in the land of religious worship or in any assembly where the religious duties are performed shall be punished with imprisonment for a period which may extend to five years or with a fine. 

    Inducing belief of becoming an object of divine displeasure [s. 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 [2].

    Legal Sanction:

    Whoever found to be guilty of offences under Section 508 of IPC shall be imposed with the legal sanction of imprisonment for a period which may not be extended beyond more than two years; or with a fine; or maybe with both.

    Misconduct in public by a drunken person [s. 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.

    Legal Sanction:

    Whoever may be the person, found to be guilty of offences under Section 510 of IPC shall be penalized with imprisonment for a period which may not be extended beyond twenty-four hours; or with fine Rs. 10/-; or maybe with both.

    Case Studies:

    In Manik Taneja v. State of Karnataka [3], the Apex Court stated that circulating reprimand or criticizing comments contrary to an administration on social media for its substandard services is not an offence under Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code. Since, it is considered not as a threat but as a review in a motive that helps other people to get a fair view of such administration. It was also cleared in the case of Jowahir Pattak v. Parbhu Ahir [4], to make the accused liable under Section 506 the fear of apprehension of the threat caused must indicate illegal distress or harm to a person’s reputation or property.

    Annakamu Chettiar v. State [5], the Court made the accused liable under Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 for menacing/threatening to kill the Revenue Inspector by persuading the Revenue Inspector to abstain from seizing the accused properties.

    In Karumanchi Viranagaiah v. Katta Mark [6], they were three accused but only two accused were held liable under Section 504 of IPC. Since the two accused yelled as, “you bastard, come out, I will kick you” and as “who will come for rescue if I kick you here” this caused intentional insult with words which have all the circumstances that lead to the break of peace mentioned in Section 504 of IPC (whereas the 3rd accused said that, “what more does he deserve than this”).

    In Fiona shrikhande v. State of Maharashtra [7], it was held by the Supreme Court that for a complaint against the alleged commission of the offence under Section 504 IPC, it is not necessary to produce the same literal words allegedly used by the accused that are capable of causing intentional insult that provokes a person to infringe public peace or to commit any offence.

    In Emperor v. Tarak Das Gupta [8], the accused was found guilty of sending a letter to the complainant (English Nurse) through postal communication, such paper of letter comprises of vulgar and indecent preludes with some suggestions with conditions to act her accordingly in order to confirm that she tolerates that prescribed conditions. Thus the Court held the accused liable under s. 509 of IPC for insulting the modesty of a woman.

    Conclusion:

    When the technology develops destruction also develops with it. These days intimidation becomes an advantage to the wrong-doer to demand his needs with the proof of personal information of the innocent. The social media platforms are friendly enemies. Strict laws are governing cybercrime but as time delays the mental pressure given by wrong-doers can lead to the death of the innocent. Only the survival of the fittest lives so every person should be aware of the provisions and the legal sanctions concerning criminal intimation and insult of one in the society. However, intimidation, annoyance, insult not only denotes mental hurts and also physical hurts on the body. Thus one should not keep a person in a much higher place or too close to them. Everyone should be visible equal to one’s eyes to be safe in this vast technologically emerging society. So, it is in our hands to protect and save ourselves.

    References:

    1. KA Pandey, Indian Penal Code 859, 860 (EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd., Lucknow, 4th edn.).

    2. BM Gandhi, Indian Penal Code 873 (EBC Publishing PVt Ltd., Lucknow, 4th edn.).

    3. (2015) 7 SCC 423.

    4. ILR (1903) 30 Cal 418.

    5. 1958 SCC OnLine Mad 279.

    6. 1976 SCC OnLine AP 13.

    7. (2013) 14 SCC 44.

    8. 1925 SCC OnLine Bom 28.


    BY HARI HARAN V. | SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE IN LAW , PERUNGUDI

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