The Supreme Court Bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice KM Joseph have held that merely abusing in a filthy language does not amount to criminal intimidation as per Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code. The Bench was hearing an appeal filed against the orders of the High Court and the Trial Court refusing to discharge him from a criminal case. The facts of the case are that the complainant alleged that the Appellant along with other unknown persons, came to the house of the complainant and abuse in filthy language and attempted to assault him whilst carrying a a revolver. Whereas the Appellant contended that the complainant had merely filed the complaint against him after he had submitted adverse reports as a surveyor regarding a fire claim of the complainant.

The Bench proceeded to answering on the scope of Magistrate’s power to proceed in a criminal case as stated in Fiona Shrikhande Vs. State of Maharashtra & Another, (2013) 14 SCC 44 as follows:

“11. …………The law as regards issuance of process in criminal cases is well settled. At the complaint stage, the Magistrate is merely concerned with the allegations made out in the complaint and has only to prima facie satisfy whether there are sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused and it is not the province of the Magistrate to enquire into a detailed discussion on the merits or demerits of the case. The scope of enquiry under Section 202 is extremely limited in the sense that the Magistrate, at this stage, is expected to examine prima facie the truth or falsehood of the allegations made in the complaint. The Magistrate is not expected to embark upon a detailed discussion of the merits or demerits of the case, but only consider the inherent probabilities apparent on the statement made in the complaint…….”

 

Furthermore, the Bench referred to the judgment of Manik Taneja and Another Vs. State of Karnataka and Another (2015) 7 SCC 423 on the aspect of ingredients of Section 503 and 506 which held that:

“11. …….A reading of the definition of “criminal intimidation” would indicate that there must be an act of threatening to another person, of causing an injury to the person, reputation, or property of the person threatened, or to the person in whom the threatened person is interested and the threat must be with the intent to cause alarm to the person threatened or it must be to do any act which he is not legally bound to do or omit to do an act which he is legally entitled to do.

  1. …….It is the intention of the accused that has to be considered in deciding as to whether what he has stated comes within the meaning of “criminal intimidation”. The threat must be with intention to cause alarm to the complainant to cause that person to do or omit to do any work. Mere expression of any words without any intention to cause alarm would not be sufficient to bring in the application of this section. But material has to be placed on record to show that the intention is to cause alarm to the complainant. From the facts and circumstances of the case, it appears that there was no intention on the part of the appellants to cause alarm in the mind of the second respondent causing obstruction in discharge of his duty…..”

The Bench further referred to the book by Ratanlal & Dhirajlal on Law of Crimes, 27th Edition, on the aspect of prosecution towards proving the offence under Section 506, which states as follows:

“…The prosecution must prove:

(i) That the accused threatened some person.

(ii) That such threat consisted of some injury to his person, reputation or property; or to the person, reputation or property of some one in whom he was interested;

(iii) That he did so with intent to cause alarm to that person; or to cause that person to do any act which he was not legally bound to do,or omit to do any act which he was legally entitled to do as a means of avoiding the execution of such threat.”

Applying the aforesaid reasoning, the Bench concluded that the Appellant was entitled to discharge as the complaint did not contain the ingredients of commission of the offence under Section 504 and 506 of the IPC and thereby set aside the orders of the Trial Court and the High Court accordingly.

 

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