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Author : Ashish Nagpal

Extortion under the Indian Penal Code is defined under a wide range of sections. It has been defined from Section 383-389in the IPC. The definition of Extortion is penned down in Section 383 which says that if a person intentionally puts another person in a position of fear or of any threat to cause him injury, or deceitfully persuade so that he may deliver the property or the other valuable goods to different person or any document which has been signed and may be turned during a valuable security.

The definition of Extortion can further be explained with the help of following illustrations :-

  1. M threatens to publish a defamatory libel concerning X unless X gives him money. He thus induces X to give him money. M  has committed extortion
  2. A by putting B in fear of grievous hurt, dishonestly induces Z to sign or affix his seal to a blank paper and deliver it to A. B signs the paper and deliver it to A. Here the paper delivered by B to A can be converted into any sort of valuable security. A here has committed extortion.

The main essence for the applicability of Section-383 i.e Extortion , is obtaining the delivery of property or any item of value in consequence of dishonest inducement. Therefore,  an intention to cause wrongful loss to one and wrongful gain to other is the most important ingredient of extortion.

Essential Elements of Extortion

  1. Intentionally putting a person in fear of injury :- The wrongdoer must be having some interest in putting the victim under fear of any sort of threat or an injury.If no such act is done by the wrongdoer then extortion would bot constitute.
  2. Intention :– The person must be having an dishonest intention without which the crime of extortion cannot be committed.
  3. To deliver property or valuable security :– This means that such threat or fear of injury is caused onto the other person to force him to transfer his property or any other valuable item.This means that the wrongdoer must actually ask for something specific.


The punishment for extortion is defined under Section 384 of  IPC , This section reads as , “whoever commits crime of extortion shall be punished for term  of either description  which can reach 3 years , or with fine, or both.”

Further ,this offence is a cognizable offence wherein the police may arrest the person without warrant and the same is triable by any magistrate also. Also it is a non bailable offence which further cannot be compounded i.e it cannot be solved by both of the parties by way of discussion or negotiation. However, a warrant is required in this case at the first instance which if not provided or if time is of essence can also be approached without such warrant.

Punishment for the attempt of extortion

The punishment for attempt of extortion is defined under Section 385 IPC which states that  :-

“Whoever, so as to committing of extortion puts a person in fear or attempts to place a person in fear of any injury, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which can reach two years, or with fine, or with both”

Therefore it must be clearly understood that even putting a person under the fear of injury of any kind in enough to attract punishment under this act and under this section. For example :- If  B approaches C with a Knife and force him to give his phone to him then he will be charged under this section even if he didn’t mean to use the gun.

Extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt

This is  more aggravated form of extortion. It is defined under section 386 of IPC which further  says that if any person commits an offence of extortion while putting a person in a sense of fear of imminent threat to his life which amounts to death or severe hurt to his body shall be held responsible for rigorous imprisonment of 10 years or fine

Placing person in fear of death or of grievous injury, so as to commit extortion

It is defined under section 387 of IPC , Under this section a mere attempt of  extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt is enough and the actual commission of extortion may not be necessary under this section. The offence  is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable and is triable by Magistrate of  first class. The person held liable shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 7 years, or with fine, or with both.

Extortion by threat of accusation of an offence punishable with death or life imprisonment etc.

This is defined under section 388 of IPC, In this section the extortion is made by way of threat of accusation to a person where punishment of the offence carries death penalty or imprisonment for life. This section reads as , “When any person commits an offence of extortion by threatening to accuse or attempts to accuse another person of an offence which is punishable with death or with life imprisonment or with any rigorous imprisonment which may extend to ten years or even if the person attempts to persuade any other person to commit such offence shall be punished with  imprisonment of 10 years and is additionally susceptible to pay fine and if the offence is of such nature which is punishable under section 377 of Indian penal code then the offender could also be punished with life imprisonment”

However after all reading all these sections the important thing is that to constitute the offence of extortion, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove the actual commission of the offence  under the already discussed sections.

Important case laws of Extortion

  • In the case of Romesh Chandra Arora vs The State AIR 1960 SC 154 ; in this case, a boy and a girl was compelled by the accused to take off their clothes and while they were naked he took many photographs of them. Later these photos were used by the accused in order to extort money from them. This act here was considered to be an offence of extortion.
  • In the case of Gurusharan vs State of Punjab 1996 10 SCC 190, it was held that one of the ingredients of the offence is that the offender “persuade the person so as to put in fear then and there to deliver up the thing extorted. Even if the money demanded is paid after few days, it still amounts to extortion.
  • In the case of Dhananjay vs State of Bihar 2007 14 SCC 768 the SC held that ingredients responsible for the crime of offence to happen , it further laid down the 4 essentials :-

(1) that the accused must put be a person in fear of injury thereto person or the other person.

 (2) that the putting of any person in such fear must be intentional.

(3)that the accused must thereby induce the person so put in fear to deliver to a person any property, valuable security or anything signed or sealed with could also be converted into a valuable security

(4)that such inducement must be done dishonestly.

  • In the case of Rajesh Bajaj vs NCT of Delhi & Ors. , the court held that the court should not take consideration of a hypo-technical approach in some cases. If the injured party is able to prove and lay a actual foundation to demonstrate that the accused has committed extortion is sufficient to prosecute the  accused for the same.
  • In case of Queen vs Nathalirc Minard {(1844) 7 WR Cr 28 } the bishop was threatened in order to expose his illegitimate relationship with a woman. This act was considered as an offence of extortion.


Extortion under Section 383 IPC along with certain other sections aims to save the common public from the crime of Extortion which has become quite common now a days. Whereas, in spite of the essential ingredients and checks provided in the sections aforesaid, there has been a major misuse of the section for booking of innocents. As a matter of fact, many innocent people are put behind the bars under the false allegations of extortion. Fake cases are also made against innocent persons owing to corruption and the powerful influence of some nefarious miscreants in the society. When such a situation arises, it is really advisable to consult a good lawyer and collect all the evidence which can further lead to innocence of the victim in this section