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May 23, 2004

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The Desk

The crime of extortion in a large sense signifies any oppression that is illegal and in a more strict sense it means the unlawful taking of money or valuable matter which is not due to anybody who is engaged with the overpowering of extracting that thing. Extortion is a criminal offence, which connotes the practice of wresting anything from a person by force, by threats or by any undue exercise of power.

Section 383 of the Penal Code defined the offence. The element of dishonesty is the basic essence of this section. To constitute the offence of extortion there must be inducement which should proceed from the person charged and it should result in creating such fear in the mind of the victim as to make him give property or valuable security. It follows that there can be no offence of extortion when possession was obtained peacefully. The essence of the offence of extortion is in the actual delivery of possession of the property by the person put in fear and the offence is not complete before such delivery is finished. In extortion delivery by the person put in fear is essential. The offence must be carried out by over powering the will of the owner.

For example: Blackmail is one kind of extortion, specifically, extortion by threatening another's reputation with the disclosure of infamous statements (true or false) about him. Even if it is not criminal to disclose the information, it constitutes extortion to demand money or other consideration not to disclose it. Extortion is distinguished from robbery. In robbery, the offender steals goods from the victim whilst threatening him with force. In extortion, the victim willingly turns the goods over to avoid a threatened violence or other harm.

In a case of extortion four kinds of ingredients need to be proved before the court.
Firstly, that the accused put the complainant in fear of some injury.
Secondly, that such injury is either to the complainant or to some other person.
Thirdly, that the accused did it intentionally.
Fourthly, that the accused thereby induced the person so put in fear to deliver some property or valuable security or something signed or sealed, which was convertible into a valuable security.

Section 384 to 389 of Penal Code described different situations and fixed punishments accordingly for committing the crime of extortion.
For simple kind of extortion the punishment is imprisonment upto 3 years with fine or with both. But if fear of injury is involved in any extortion then the minimum punishment is 5 years imprisonment which may extend upto 14 years or with fine or with both. If extortion is caused putting a person in fear of death or of grievous hurt then punishment may extend to imprisonment for life and shall not be less than seven years and also be liable to fine. Moreover, if extortion is committed by threat of accusation of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life then the accused may be punished either with ten years imprisonment or with imprisonment for life. If the accusation is of unnatural offence then the penalty provided is severer.

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