Karnataka HC Clarifies Mere Verbal Expression for Criminal Intimidation Insufficient

Karnataka High Court Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: 25 August 2023 at 18:06 IST

The Karnataka High Court recently affirmed that the mere expression of words, lacking any intention to cause alarm or prompt a person to perform or abstain from an action, is inadequate to bring an individual’s conduct within the ambit of criminal intimidation as stipulated under Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In a case before a Single judge bench comprising Justice Venkatesh Naik T, the Court quashed a trial court’s order that had taken cognizance of offenses under Sections 448, 504, and 506 read with Section 34 of the IPC against the accused.

The petitioner contended that the complainant had falsely lodged a case against them stemming from a civil dispute. The petitioner argued that the charges were a consequence of a civil suit in which they had obtained a favorable injunction.

The Court noted several factors that cast doubt on the validity of the allegations. Firstly, it observed that the reported incident occurred on May 12, 2020, yet the First Information Report (FIR) was filed only on May 22, without any explanation for the delay. Additionally, the bench dismissed the complainant’s claim that the petitioners had trespassed onto his property, stating:

“Upon reviewing the available records, in Original Suit No.32 of 2018, the learned Magistrate, Devadurga, granted interim relief in favor of the petitioners. By virtue of this order, they gained entry to the premises. Thus, at this juncture, there is no merit in the complainant’s contention that the petitioners trespassed onto his property. Therefore, the term ‘house trespass’ as defined under Section 442 of the IPC, punishable under Section 448, is not applicable.”

Regarding the accusation of criminal intimidation, the Court referenced an incident where the petitioner allegedly lifted a hoe (guddali) and threw it to the ground. The Court referred to Section 506 of the IPC and stated:

“Upon examination of the aforementioned provisions, it becomes evident that for the elements of criminal intimidation to be met, the accused must threaten injury to the person, reputation, or property of the complainant, with the intention to cause alarm or prompt the complainant to perform an act that they are not legally obligated to do, or to abstain from such an act to evade the execution of such a threat.”

Citing a Supreme Court judgment in the case of Manik Taneja And Another v. State Of Karnataka and Another (2015), the bench concluded, “In the current case, even the elements of Section 506 of the IPC are not established against the petitioners.”

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