The offence of criminal intimidation is defined under Section 503 of IPC. The provision states that anyone who threatens any other person on the following grounds is liable for criminal intimidation.
Threatens injury to his person;
Threatens injury to his reputation;
Threatens injury to his property;
Threatens injury to the person or reputation of anyone in whom the person is interested.
Further, the intention should be to cause alarm to that person; or to make them perform any act which they are not legally bound to do; or to omit any act which they are legally entitled to perform. If they are forced to do all of these acts as a means to avoid execution of such threat, this amounts to criminal intimidation.
The explanation of this section states that a threat to injure the reputation of a deceased person in whom the person threatened is interested is also covered under this section.
Example: ‘A’ for the purpose of inducing B to refrain from filing a complaint against him, threatens to kill B’s wife. A is liable to be punished for the offence of criminal intimidation.
Punishment for criminal intimidation
The punishment for the offence of criminal intimidation is laid down under Section 506 of IPC.
The provision is divided into two parts:
In simple cases of criminal intimidation, whoever commits criminal intimidation is liable to be punished with imprisonment for a period which may extend to two years, or a fine, or both.
Classification of the offence: This part is a 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.
Then in the above-mentioned cases, the prescribed punishment is simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending to seven years; or a fine; or both.
The second part of the provision, as compared to the first part, deals with prescribing punishment for graver forms of criminal intimidation.
Classification of the offence: This part is a non-cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable offence.
Triable by: Magistrate of the First Class
It is important to note that, to attract the second part of this section it is essential that there is a threat of either causing death or grievous hurt.
Criminal intimidation by anonymous communication
Section 507 of IPC is an aggravated form of intimidation. This section covers instances wherein the intimidator commits the offence anonymously. It has been stated in this section 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.
Example: If a person anonymously writes a letter to a person X, in which he threatens that he will burn X’s house, then this is an offence under this Section.
Classification of the offence: Bailable, non-cognizable and non-compoundable.
Triable by: Magistrate of the First Class.