Extortion in the Indian Penal Code
HEADINGS:
1. What is Extortion
2. What are the Essential Elements of Extortion
3. Punishment for Extortion
4. Extortion in Fear of Death or Grievous Hurt
5. Extortion by Threat of Accusing a Person of an Offence Punishable With Death or Life Imprisonment

What is Extortion

Extortion is defined in section 383, chapter XVII of the Indian Penal Code. It is an offence against property. To understand what amounts to extortion, certain essential elements are required to be fulfilled.

What are the Essential Elements of Extortion

The essential elements of extortion are:
1. Whoever with dishonest intention or bad intention,
2. Put any person under fear of inflicting any injury or causing him harm,
3. To deliver to him any valuable security or property or any document or kind which can be converted into a valuable security,
4. The person who does such an act commits the offence of extortion under section 383 and section 384 of the Indian Penal Code.

Bare Act PDFs

Example 1

A and B are business partners. A threatens B that if he doesn’t give money to A, then A will publish a defamatory statement against B, and B’s career will be ruined. Here A has kept B under fear to extort money.

Note: Injury need not be only physical. It can be mental injury too.

Example 2

A threatens B that he will wrongfully confine B’s child if B does not deliver a signed blank cheque to him. B under fear signs the cheque and delivers it to A. Here A has committed the offence of extortion.

Example 3

A threatens Z to burn his house unless he makes A his business partner of 51% shares in his company. Here A by putting Z under fear has extorted valuable security. Here A has committed the offence of extortion.

Punishment for Extortion

Any person who commits an offence of extortion shall be punished for imprisonment up to three years or fine or both. It is a cognizable and non-bailable offence. (more about punishment below)

Extortion in Fear of Death or Grievous Hurt

Section 386 of the Indian Penal Code says that if any person puts another person in fear of death or grievous hurt and extorts money or valuable security from him, he shall be punished for imprisonment up to ten years and shall also be liable for fine. It is a cognizable and non-bailable offence.

If any person attempts to put any person under fear of death or grievous hurt in order to extort money, then he shall be punished as per section 387 of the Indian Penal Code. The person shall be imprisoned for a term which may extend to seven years and also fine.

Extortion by Threat of Accusing a Person of an Offence Punishable With Death or Life Imprisonment

Section 388 of IPC says that if a person commits extortion by putting any person under the fear that if he doesn’t deliver money or valuable security to him, then he shall put accusation against other person for committing an offence punishable with death or life imprisonment or any other offence for which punishment is ten years; The person who commits extortion in such manner shall be punished for imprisonment up to ten years and fine.

If a person commits extortion by putting any person under the fear that if he doesn’t deliver money or valuable security, then he shall put accusation against other person for committing an offence under section 377 of IPC and that is unnatural offences; If a person commits extortion in such a manner then he shall be punished for life imprisonment.

The punishment for attempting offence given under section 388 of the Indian Penal Code is the same as that of committing offence. The provision for attempting such offence is given under section 389 of IPC.