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The Offense of Criminal Intimidation in the IPC: A Critical Analysis

Niharika Mukherjee


Though far less politicized than the criminalization of ‘threats’ and ‘violent speech’ in countries such as the United States of America, the comparable offense of ‘criminal intimidation’ under Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code bears a significance in the Indian criminal justice system that is not adequately reflected in academic commentary. This significance arises not out of the offense’s particular political significance, such as sedition, or linkage with frequently debated social problems, such sexual offenses. Rather, it arises out of the vastly diverse range of contexts in which it is invoked. It is notable, for instance, that cases involving this offense that have been heard in the past five years by the Indian Supreme Court have been in relation to more than twenty distinct fact situations.

In this light, this paper shall examine the offense of ‘criminal intimidation’ under the Indian Penal Code 1860[1] (IPC) with reference to its interpretation in case laws. To this end, in Part I, it shall list the ingredients of the offense. In Part II, it shall briefly discuss the historical evolution of the offense, the rationales behind its criminalization, and its common, and widely diverse, applications. In Part III, drawing from a study of a sample of Supreme Court and High Court judgments,[2] it shall discuss certain patterns and inconsistencies observed to have emerged in these decisions, on first, the actus reus, and secondly, the mens rea, of the offense. In Part IV, it shall critically analyze a particular pattern emerging in the determination of ‘intent’ in these decisions, in light of debates on the same issue in the United States of America, before, finally, presenting the conclusions.

Part I- Criminal Intimidation in the Indian Penal Code

Located in the chapter on ‘criminal intimidation, insult and annoyance’,[3] the offence of ‘criminal intimidation’ is defined under Section 503 of the IPC.[4] Its ingredients are twofold: one, there must be a threat by the offender of either injury to person, reputation, or property of another, or the person or reputation of some other person in whom the person threatened is interested. This may include a deceased person as well. This is the actus reus component; two, this threat must be with the intent to cause either alarm to the person threatened, or to cause him to do an act that he is not legally bound to do, or to cause him not to do an act which he is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of the threat made. This is the mens rea component.[5]

The punishment for this offence is provided in Section 506 of the IPC, which also provides for a higher punishment if the threat is to cause a set of offences listed in the second paragraph of the Section.[6] Further, Section 507, which provides for a yet higher punishment for ‘criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication’,[7] has been described as concerned with an ‘aggravated form’ of criminal intimidation.[8] The offense is non-cognizable and bailable under the IPC as applicable country-wide, which, under the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, means that the police cannot arrest a person for the offense without a warrant, and that a person arrested for the offense has a right to bail. However, some States have, through amendments, made the offense cognizable and non-bailable within their respective jurisdictions- thus, effectively, increasing the restrictive nature of processes for persons suspected of having committed the offense.

Part II- Historical Evolution, Rationales for Criminalization and Common Applications

The offence of ‘criminal intimidation’ has been described as an example of the ‘groundbreaking attention’ paid by the drafters of the IPC to ‘intangible harms’, where ‘actual injury’ does not result.[9] Given the ‘intangibility’ of the harm dealt with in Section 503, the rationale for the criminalization of such an act has been associated with the State’s motive to protect individuals from the ‘fear and disruption’ arising from the communication of threats to cause the mentioned types of injury, and not necessarily to protect individuals from the possibility of the threat actually being realized.[10]

The focus on preventing and protecting against fear itself is evident from the historical evolution of the Section. While in its first draft, the offence was contingent upon the intention to cause ‘distress’ and ‘terror’ to the person intimidated, these two words were later substituted with ‘alarm’.[11] This substitution was made because ‘alarm’ was intended to be a narrower term implying a requirement of higher mental pain to the victim.[12] However, the attention clearly devoted in this amendment process to the intended effect of a threat on a victim (that is, the question of whether this effect should be ‘distress’ and ‘terror’, or ‘alarm’) reflects a recognition that the ‘harm’ caused by anxiety and mental unease arising from the threat of an injury is central to the offense.[13]

This rationale is consistent with the classification of the offence in literature as one affecting ‘individual’ or ‘private’ interests’.[14] Yet, some historical developments reveal that the offence was not entirely irrelevant to ‘public’ or ‘State’ concerns, even as its focus on preventing ‘fear and disruption’[15] remained central in its applications even to these latter contexts. A 1933 notification issued by the then Chief Commissioner of Delhi declaring the offence punishable under Section 506 as ‘cognizable’ and ‘non-bailable’ within its jurisdiction, for instance, has been interpreted more recently by a Delhi High Court bench as driven by the governmental- and colonial- anxiety regarding ‘large political activities’ likely to take place in cities, which necessitated ‘special measures’ to prevent certain offences ‘against public servants’.[16] Hence, even though the offence of criminal intimidation is not contained in the parts of the IPC classified as concerned with ‘public’ offences, including, for instance, the chapters on ‘offences against the public tranquility’[17] or ‘offences by or relating to public servants’,[18] it certainly has both public/State-interest and private-interest related facets in how it has been understood by State actors.

Applications- both real and proposed- of criminal laws against threats in other jurisdictions also support this observation. For instance, Plasket notes the frequent use of the ‘intimidation’ offence in cases of industrial disputes and protests in South Africa,[19] and Honigman writes of the application of these provisions to ‘Stop Snitching’ media campaigns- popular across the USA in the late 2000s- which were aimed at threatening violence in retaliation for cooperation with the criminal justice process.[20] Along with these, the State interest in criminalizing threats is also visible in the context of witness intimidation laws. As a witness’ ability to depose fearlessly and accurately in court is integral both to the personal safety of witnesses and for the conduct of an effective trial, these laws directly impact the degree of prevailing public confidence in the criminal justice system.[21]

More generally, in the past 5 years, cases involving ‘criminal intimidation’ that have been heard by the Indian Supreme Court have arisen from, or have been directly or indirectly related to, a startlingly diverse range of factual matrices and everyday situations.[22] This indicates, this paper argues, that despite the absence of academic and popular commentary on the offense, it is well integrated into the vocabulary and practice of police officials, victims and complainants. These diverse contexts include, among others, the following:

1. Large-scale organized crime[23]

2. Activities of local goons[24]

3. Rape and other sexual offenses[25]

4. Domestic violence[26]

5. Drug-related offenses[27]

6. Administrative and disciplinary proceedings[28]

7. Witness and victim intimidation[29]

8. Kidnapping[30]

9. Forced marriage[31]

10. Election offenses[32]

11. Caste discrimination and violence[33]

12. Applications for transfer of cases[34]

13. Hurt to religious sentiments[35]

14. Recovery of property in context of hire-purchase agreements[36]

15. Bail and anticipatory bail[37]

16. Freedom of speech and expression[38]

17. Dispossession of immoveable property and the Court’s power under Section 456 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) 1973[39]

18. Taking of extra-judicial confessions[40]

19. Abetment of suicide[41]

20. Diktats of Khap Panchayats[42]

21. Exclusion of certain evidence under Section 92 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872[43]

22. Intimidation of public servants[44]

23. Dowry demands[45]

Part III- ‘Criminal Intimidation’ in Indian Judicial Decisions

The Indian criminal intimidation cases that this paper shall discuss, however, are largely concerned with cases where the predominant State interest lies in preventing ‘fear and disruption’ to an individual, as at least facially distinct from protecting ‘public’ interests.[46]

Interpretation of Actus Reus in Section 503

With regard to judicial interpretations on the actus reus required to constitute the offense, broadly two observations emerge from the case laws considered in this paper.

First, courts have differed in how strictly they have interpreted the word ‘injury’ in this section. On the one hand, some courts have viewed it from strictly within the confines of Section 44 of the IPC, which defines it as a harm ‘illegally caused’.[47] For instance, in Queen v Sri Vidya Sankara,[48] even while noting that a threat of excommunication from a caste due to certain activities of the victim may constitute ‘spiritual tyranny and oppression’, the court refused to hold the accused liable as the injury threatened was not against the law.[49]

Other courts have, however, been more liberal in this respect. For instance, in Raghubar v Emperor,[50] where the complainant had been threatened that his shop would be picketed if he did not stop importing foreign cloth for his business, the court held this to be a threat of injury to his property even though picketing was not an offense at the time.[51] The rationale used here was that despite not being a threat to cause ‘illegal’ harm, it would cause the complainant’s business to come to a standstill- and that to hold this, not to be a threat to cause injury would reflect a ‘notorious ignorance’ of the ‘practicalities of business’.[52]

In the same vein, courts have occasionally been willing to construe fairly vaguely worded threats as satisfying the requirements of the section- for instance, a statement worded as ‘I shall make it impossible for you to live in this town’ was held to be a ‘threat’ under Section 503, even though it is not facially clear what specific injury to person, property or reputation was being threatened here.[53]

However, this type of context-based interpretation of the meaning of vague statements as constitutive or not constitutive of threats can be described as inadequately thought-out in some instances. For instance, the court’s interpretation of the statement ‘I will see how you [stay on] these premises’ in one case as not threatening injury to person, property or reputation,[54] even in the background of prior enmity between the accused and complainant, arguably gives cause to question the degree to which these interpretations are mindful of violent undertones that can be attributed to indirect statements in particular social and cultural contexts. These situations seem to create more difficult problems of interpretation for courts than cases where the context is perhaps more familiar to an urban judge- for instance, the making of a statement saying ‘your days are numbered’ in the background of a workplace feud, has with ease, and in all probability correctly, been interpreted to be a reference to possible termination of employment, as opposed to the three kinds of injury required under Section 503.[55]

Secondly, courts have often read the effect of causing alarm as part of the actus reus of the offense, treating, the offense as a ‘result crime’. It is argued that this approach is mistaken on a plain reading of the section, in which the only actus reus component is the delivery of the type of threat described. Yet, it is evident in multiple cases including Jogendra v Hem,[56] where the fact that, following the delivery of the threat, the victim sat with the accused and others while tea was served to them, was employed by the court to decide that no alarm had been caused- only ‘mild annoyance’. The use of this conclusion by the court, bolstered by the old age and frailty of the accused, to hold that the effect of alarm was absent and hence, that the accused must be acquitted,[57] is thus, fallacious.

This problem is also visible in Mohandass v State,[58] where the court considered the victim’s statement of not having ‘felt threatened’ by the accused- who had, in an act of domestic violence, threatened to kill her- as relevant to hold that the offense was not constituted.[59] It is further seen in the case of Anuradha v Maharashtra,[60] where the court went as far as to say that the ‘delivery of a threat’ and ‘evidence of fright’ to the victims was enough to convict under Section 506-[61] even though it is not the latter, but the intent to cause it, that is necessary under Section 503. This erroneous trend, however, was expressly refuted in Amulya Behera v Nabaghana,[62] where the court stated that the fact of the victim being or not being alarmed was irrelevant for the purpose of Section 503.[63]

Interpretation of Mens Rea in Section 503

Judicial interpretations with regard to the mens rea for the offense can be discussed in terms of two aspects- the question of what the mens rea required under Section 503 is, and that of how the presence or absence of said mens rea can be determined.

Mens Rea Required under Section 503

Regarding the first question, courts have almost uniformly stated that the mens rea for the offense is the intent to cause alarm, or to cause a person to do something he is not legally required to do, or to cause him not to do something he is legally entitled to do.[64] However, in practical applications, a peculiar problem is observed to arise.

In one set of cases, courts appear to have confused intent to cause alarm with an intent to cause the injury threatened. This approach is starkly visible in Mohandass v State,[65] in which faced with a situation of domestic violence- where the husband (accused), in the course of beating his wife, ‘dashing her against the wall’ several times, and squeezing her neck, had also threatened to kill her- the court quashed his conviction under Section 506, holding that this was not a ‘real threat’, and rather ‘mere words where the person does not exactly mean what he says’.[66] It is unclear here whether ‘meaning what one says’ meant an intention to cause death or simply the intention to cause alarm. If the court meant the former, this interpretation is flawed because such an intention is not required by Section 503 at all- in fact, the rationale behind criminalization of threats, as discussed earlier, has been accepted to be more concerned with the intended effect on the mind of the victim than with the possibility of the threat being actually carried out.[67] It is unlikely that the court meant the latter that ‘meaning what one says’ means, simply, the intention to cause alarm. This is because a mere intention on the part of the accused to cause alarm, divorced from any requirement of ‘seriousness’ of intent to follow through with the threat, would be extremely difficult to deny, given the aforementioned circumstances of the case which indicate a series of violent acts by the accused.

To the extent that Madras High Court in Mohandass v State left it unclear what it meant by a ‘real threat’, the above-mentioned interpretation of its somewhat ambiguous observations is supported by the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s decision Rajender v Haryana.[68] Here, faced with a situation where the accused had threatened to kill the complainant but did not, the court held that his conviction under Section 506 would not be maintainable because the threat to kill was ‘not borne out by the accused’, particularly given that the only injuries caused were inflicted by a ‘blunt hockey stick’.[69] This failure to carry out the threat led the court to dismiss the threat as a ‘mere outburst’ of the accused. The court thus, did not consider the question of whether the facts indicated that he may nevertheless have had an intention to cause alarm through his words, which would have been sufficient to hold him liable under Section 506.[70]

Determination of Presence or Absence of Mens Rea

Regarding the second question, concern arises from the fact that courts have, in a particular type of situation, assumed that intent to cause alarm was absent, without a closer inspection of facts. This is visible in cases where the threat was delivered in the midst of a quarrel. For instance, in Periamalaiswami v Poosariambalam,[71] where the accused had threatened to kill the victim who had blocked the former’s access to a source of water in a village, the court dismissed it as a small ‘village quarrel’, where such things would ‘occur in a matter of course’, without ‘anybody intending seriously to intimidate’ the other party.[72] It is argued that a closer inspection of evidence relating to the intent of the particular accused should have been conducted, rather than simply stating that people in these kinds of situations usually do not seriously intend to intimidate the other party.

The other concern emerges from the observation that, in the two relatively recent cases of Anuradha v Maharashtra[73] and Amulya Behera v Nabaghana,[74] the High Courts of Bombay and Orissa appear to have inquired, not into the presence or absence of an intent on the part of the accused to cause alarm, but whether, objectively, a threat delivered in the given context would have been likely to cause alarm.

In the former, dealing with a situation where the accused had made certain threats to a group of lady teachers sitting inside a meeting hall, the court while examining the question of whether the ingredients of Section 503 were fulfilled, stated that it was ‘reasonable in the circumstances’ that a ‘threat was potential’.[75] The specific circumstances that it points out, in the next sentence, are that the addressees were, ‘after all, not wrestlers’ but ‘simply lady teachers’, presumably, by that reason, likely to be alarmed by his threats.[76]

This shift in the inquiry from subjective to objective[77] is even clearer in the subsequent case of Amulya Behera v Nabaghana,[78] though the test eventually adopted is different. Here, the court, discussing the mens rea component of the offense, stated that in determining the presence or absence of intention to cause alarm, what is important is ‘whether [the threat] was sufficient to overcome a man of ordinary nerves’.[79] It further elaborates that whether or not the delivery of a threat amounts to the offense of criminal intimidation is dependent not on the ‘norms of the individual threatened’ but on what may ‘overcome the ordinary free will of a man with common firmness’.[80] This indicates that, like in Anuradha v State of Maharashtra,[81] in the absence of clear evidence of an intention of the accused to cause alarm, courts have been willing to assess, from their own standpoint, whether alarm was likely to have been caused by a threat delivered in a particular context, to determine whether the mens rea requirement of Section 503 is fulfilled.

However, deviating from Anuradha, Amulya Behera has introduced a further element of objectivity to the analysis, saying that even this inquiry must be done keeping in mind a victim of ‘ordinary firmness’, as opposed to the characteristics of the actual victims in question, as in Anuradha. The significance of this approach, not observed in the earlier cases on the offense considered in this paper, is that it arguably lowers the mens rea threshold required for the offense of criminal intimidation, making it easier to convict persons accused for the same, at least in theory.

In this context, the Supreme Court’s position in Manik Taneja v State of Karnataka,[82] which was relied upon more recently in Parminder Kaur v State of Punjab,[83] has been that ‘it is the intention of the accused that has to be considered in deciding whether [his statement] comes within the definition of ‘criminal intimidation’, and further, that, evidence must be brought to show that the intention of the accused was, in fact, to cause ‘alarm’ to the complainant. From the text of this decision, it appears that the Supreme Court has favoured a test that is more ‘subjective’- that is, dependent on the intention of the accused- than ‘objective’- that is, dependent on what the court thinks a reasonable person would intend in the circumstances. In view of the aforementioned discussion, this is evidently an important deviation from earlier High Court judgments.

Part IV- The ‘Subjective’ versus ‘Objective’ Test Debate in American Threat Crimes

While having attracted no noted discussion in academic or popular commentary in India, the debate on this issue- of whether a subjective or objective test should be adopted to assess intent in offenses involving the delivery of threats- has been the subject of a long-standing split among US court circuits,[84] and has attracted arguments from across the political spectrum.

On the one hand, advocates of free speech argue that the most ‘heightened’ mens rea, and as subjective as possible a test for assessing intent, should be adopted in these crimes.[85] This argument emphasizes that even as the ‘totality of circumstances’ and context of the threat is kept in mind, the central effort of the court should be to analyse ‘the defendant's mental state on a case-by-case basis’.[86]

On the other hand, arguments from those identifying as ‘liberal communitarians’, for instance, invoke concerns posed by threats to society at large- including to the capacity of public officials to function without fear,[87] and to the general level of ‘fear of crime’ prevalent in society which is[88] indicative, again, of the ‘public’ aspect of the rationales read into the criminalization of threats. These arguments reject the subjective test, instead urging that a ‘significantly lower standard of scrutiny’ must be adopted in the determination of intent in crimes involving threats.[89]

Conclusion: A Misunderstood Crime?

While noting that Constitutional principles in India would likely support the former of these arguments,[90] this paper also highlights a peculiar trend in how the offense of criminal intimidation is actually invoked in India, to draw attention to the dangers of adopting a test of mens rea that could increase the likelihood of convictions for statements, devoid, in reality, of the intent required by the Section.

From the survey of case laws cited in this paper, it is evident that there appears to be a widespread tendency to charge persons under Section 506 even when there is no plausible evidence that their actions satisfied the conditions of Section 503. This can be inferred from NCRB data too, which reflects a fairly low conviction rate of 37.1% for the offense in 2020.[91] Given that this is particularly prevalent in situations where the persons are accused of actions such as approaching the complainant in a group, armed with sticks,[92] or gathering around the complainant and abusing him,[93] it is possible to infer that the Section is often invoked on the basis of an understanding of the word ‘intimidation’ as used in ordinary parlance, as opposed to the IPC definition of the offense. This is also visible in the text of judgements, for instance where the terms ‘threatening’ and ‘intimidating’ are used as if describing two different types of behaviours, as opposed to their specific meanings in the context of Section 503.[94] It is possible to argue that this type of misplaced and frequent invocation of the offense offers support to interpreting it strictly in line with its IPC definition, to prevent unnecessary and legally fallacious use of the criminal process. One way of accomplishing this, arguably, may be the adoption of a subjective test of intent, which, this paper argues, would bear greater consonance with the text of Section 503, which makes no mention of any ‘reasonable person’ standard or other ‘objective’ basis for inferring mens rea.

In light of this observation, and keeping in mind the aforementioned inconsistencies in how Courts have interpreted the actus reus and mens rea of the offense, it is possible to conclude that the offense of criminal intimidation is frequently misunderstood by victims, the police and courts alike. It is concluded, therefore, that in view of the large range of contexts in which this offense is invoked, greater clarity on the precise ingredients of the offense must be generated among these actors, in order to ensure that certainty in what the offense entails is not hampered and no citizen’s liberty is affected unduly.

[The author is a 3rd year BA LLB student in NLSIU, Bangalore.]

[1] The Indian Penal Code 1860 (Act 45 of 1860) (hereinafter, the IPC). [2] A note on method: the analysis in this paper is based on two sets of judgments- first, all judgments involving the offense of criminal intimidation under Section 503 read with Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code 1860, as well as similar offenses under special legislation including the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 and the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act 1999, delivered by the Indian Supreme Court in the last 5 years (that is, from 2018 to mid-2022); second, High Court decisions involving Sections 503 and 506 of the IPC that have been prominently cited, inter alia, in three commentaries on the Indian Penal Code- Gaur KD, Criminal Law- Cases and Materials (9th edn, LexisNexis 2019), Pillai PSA, Criminal Law (VL Vibhute ed, 14th edn, LexisNexis 2019), and Ratanlal and Dhirajlal, Indian Penal Code (K Kannan and Anjana Prakash eds, 36th edn, LexisNexis 2019). The database used for obtaining the former set of judgments is Manupatra. [3] IPC Chapter XXII. [4] IPC Section 503. [5] IPC Section 503. [6] IPC Section 506. [7] IPC Section 507. [8] PSA Pillai, Criminal Law (VL Vibhute ed, 14th edn, LexisNexis 2019) 51.5. [9] Barry Wright and Wing-Cheong Chan, Codification, Macaulay and the Indian Penal Code (1st edn, Routledge 2011) 44. [10] Alec Walen, ‘Criminalizing Statements of Terrorist Intent: How to Understand the Law Governing Terrorist Threats, and Why it Should be Used Instead of Long-Term Preventive Detention’ (2011) 101 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 3 826. [11] Amulya Kumar Behera v Nabaghana Behera and Ors 1995 CriLJ 3559 para 7. [12] Ibid para 7. [13] Ibid para 7. [14] Wright and Chan (n 9) 42 footnote 109. [15] Walen (n 10) 825. [16] Narendra Kumar and Ors v State and Ors 2004 CriLJ 2594 para 7. Here, in a petition to quash an FIR registered inter alia under Section 506 IPC on the ground that the disputes had been amicably settled, the Court took the position that the 1933 notification, which had continued till that date without review, should cease to be in operation. Apart from issuing an order to that effect, it also observed that the notification had been presumably issued at the time on account of the ‘situation prevailing in those days in the city of Delhi’, and was issued ‘mainly for the protection of public servants and to prevent participation of public at large in the civil disobedience movement and punish those who dared defy the public servants’. See para 5 and 10 (Manupatra copy) [17] IPC Chapter VIII. [18] IPC Chapter IX. [19] Clive Plasket, ‘Industrial Disputes and the Offence of Intimidation’ (1990) 11 Industrial Law Journal 4 669. [20] Jacob Honigman, ‘Can’t Stop Snitchin’: Criminalizing Threats Made in Stop Snitching Media under the True Threats Exception to the First Amendment’ (2008) 32 Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts 2 220. [21] Jared Paul Marx, ‘Intimidation of Defense Witnesses at the International Criminal Tribunals: Commentary and Suggested Legal Remedies’ (2007) 7 Chicago Journal of International Law 2 675. [22] It may be noted that not all of these decisions of the Supreme Court involved adjudication upon the ingredients of criminal intimidation, or dealt with the offense exclusively. [23] Abhishek v State of Maharashtra and Ors AIR 2022 SC 2488, Shraddha Gupta v State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 2022 SC 2062, Padma Mishra v State of Uttarakhand and Ors MANU/SC/0293/2020, and Rambeer Shokeen v State of NCT of Delhi AIR 2018 SC 688. [24] Rahmat Khan v Deputy Commissioner of Police (2021) 8 SCC 362 and Sudha Singh v State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 2021 SC 2149. [25] P XXX v State of Uttarakhand and Ors AIR 2022 SC 2885, Anversinh v State of Gujarat AIR 2021 SC 477, Nisha Priya Bhatia v Union of India and Ors (2020) 13 SCC 56, Parminder Kaur v State of Punjab AIR 2020 SC 3815, Hemudan Nanbha Gadhvi v State of Gujarat AIR 2018 SC 4760, Kavita Chandrakant Lakhani v State of Maharashtra and Ors AIR 2018 SC 2099 and Parkash Chand v State of Himachal Pradesh AIR 2019 SC 1037. [26] Prabha Tyagi v Kamlesh Devi AIR 2022 SC 2331 and Aparna Bhat and Ors v State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors AIR 2021 SC 1492. [27] State of West Bengal v Rakesh Singh MANU/SC/0854/2022. [28] Zakia Ahsan Jafri v State of Gujarat and Ors MANU/SC/0809/2022, Pravin Kumar v Union of India (2020) 9 SCC 471 and Common Cause (A Registered Society) and Ors v Union of India and Ors (2018)9 SCC 382. [29] Jaswant Singh v State of Punjab and Ors MANU/SC/1226/2021, State of Gujarat and Ors v Narayan AIR 2021 SC 5096, In Re: Assessment of the Criminal Justice System in Response to Sexual Offenses MANU/SC/1766/2019, Mahender Chawla and Ors v Union of India and Ors (2019)14 SCC 615, Mallikarjun Kodagali (Dead) Represented through Legal Representatives v State of Karnataka and Ors AIR 2018 SC 5206 and State of Kerala v Rasheed AIR 2019 SC 721. [30] Anversinh v State of Gujarat AIR 2021 SC 477 and Mohammed Yousuff and Ors v State of KarnatakaMANU/SC/0977/2020. [31] Mohammed Yousuff and Ors v State of Karnataka MANU/SC/0977/2020. [32] Brajesh Singh v Sunil Arora and Ors AIR 2021 SC 4069. [33] Hariram Bambhi v Satyanarayan and Ors AIR 2021 SC 5610, Ramatwar v State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 2021 SC 5228, Hitesh Verma v State of Uttarakhand and Ors AIR 2020 SC 5584 and Union of India v State of Maharashtra and Ors AIR 2019 SC 4917. [34] Jatinderveer Arora and Ors v State of Punjab AIR 2021 SC 760. [35] Amish Devgan v Union of India and Ors (2021)1 SCC 1. [36] Magma Fincorp Ltd v Rajesh Kumar Tiwari AIR 2020 SC 4978. [37] Sadhna Chaudhary v State of Rajasthan and Ors MANU/SC/0877/2022. [38] Indibly Creative Pvt Ltd v Government of West Bengal and Ors AIR 2019 SC 1918. [39] Mahesh Dube v Shivbodh and Ors AIR 2019 SC 938, Nevada Properties Private Limited v State of Maharashtra and Ors AIR 2019 SC 4554, Ravinder Kaur Grewal and Ors v Manjit Kaur and Ors AIR 2019 SC 3827 and Vikram Johar v State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors AIR 2019 SC 2109. [40] Tofan Singh v State of Tamil Nadu AIR 2020 SC 5592 and Shailendra Rajdev Pasvan and Ors v State of Gujarat and Ors AIR 2020 SC 180. [41] Rajeev Kourav v Baisahab and Ors AIR 2020 SC 909 and Ude Singh and Ors v State of Haryana AIR 2019 SC 4570. [42] Shakti Vahini v Union of India and Ors AIR 2018 SC 1601. [43] Placido Francisco Pinto (D) by Legal Representatives and Ors v Jose Francisco Pinto and Ors MANU/SC/0748/2021. [44] State of Gujarat and Ors v Narayan AIR 2021 SC 5096. [45] RK Vijayasarathi and Ors v Sudha Seetharam and Ors (2019) 16 SCC 739. [46] Walen (n 10) 826. [47] IPC Section 44. [48] The Queen v Sri Vidya Sankara Narasimha Bharathi Guruswamulu (1883) ILR 6 Mad 381. [49] Ibid para 9. [50] Raghubar Dayal Misra and Ors v Emperor AIR 1931 All 263. [51] Ibid para 3. [52] Ibid para 3. [53] Nand Kishore v Emperor AIR 1927 All 783 para 3. [54] Sanjay Pandey v Chhaganlal J Jain and Ors 2001 CriLJ 2127 para 8. [55] SS Sanyal and Ors v KVR Nair and Ors 1987 CriLJ 2074 para 10. [56] Jogendra Kumar Sarkar v Hem Chandra Roy 1964 CriLJ 255. [57] Ibid para 2. [58] Noble Mohandass v State 1989 CriLJ 669. [59] Ibid para 7. [60] Anuradha R Kshirsagar and Ors v State of Maharashtra and Ors 1991 CriLJ 410. [61] Ibid para 15. [62] Amulya Kumar Behera (n 11). [63] Ibid para 7. [64] Romesh Chandra Arora v The State AIR 1960 SC 154 para 6. [65] Noble Mohandass (n 58). [66] Ibid para 7. [67] Amulya Behera (n 11) para 7. [68] Rajender Dutt v The State of Haryana 1993 CriLJ 1025. [69] Ibid para 12. [70] Ibid para 12. [71] Periamalaiswami v Poosariambalam 1969 LW(Cri) 202 [MANU/TN/0616/1968]. [72] Ibid para 7. [73] Anuradha (n 60). [74] Amulya Behera (n 11). [75] Anuradha (n 60) para 14. [76] Ibid para 14. [77] Drawing from Geha in Georgette Geha, ‘Think Twice before Posting Online: Criminalizing Threats under U.S.C. Sec. 875(c) after Elonis’ (2016) 50 J Marshall Law Review 1 172, a subjective test in this context means a test to determine whether the defendant ‘specifically intended’ to cause alarm. On the other hand, an objective test asks whether ‘a reasonable person would perceive’ the defendant’s statement as likely to cause alarm. [78] Amulya Behera (n 11). [79] Amulya Behera (n 11) para 7. [80] Amulya Behera (n 11) para 7. [81] Anuradha (n 60). [82] Manik Taneja v State of Karnataka (2015) 7 SCC 423. [83] Parminder Kaur v State of Punjab AIR 2020 SC 3815. [84] A 2016 paper notes that by this time, nine circuit courts had supported an objective test, while only two had employed a subjective test. This split was, however, resolved by the US Supreme Court’s decision in 2016 in Elonis v United States 135 S Ct 2001 (2015), which supported a subjective test; Geha (n 77) 172. [85] Geha (n 77) 170. [86] Geha (n 77) 184. [87] Amitai Etzioni, ‘On Criminalizing Violent Speech’ (2022) 36 Brigham Young University Journal of Public Law 1 22. [88] Deborah Lupton and John Tulloch, ‘Theorizing Fear of Crime: Beyond the Rational/Irrational Opposition’ (1999) 50 British Journal of Sociology 3 509. [89] Etzioni (n 87) 28. [90] The Constitution of India 1950 Article 19(1)(a). [91] Government of India, Ministry of Home of Affairs, National Crimes Records Bureau, Crime in India 2020 (September 2021) Table 18A.1. [92] Mohinder Singh and Ors v State of Haryana 1993 CriLJ 85 para 2. [93] For instance, The State of Maharashtra v Tatyaba Bajirao Jadhav and Ors 2011 CriLJ 2717 para 2, and Vikram Johar v State of UP and Anr (2019) 14 SCC 207 para 2.5. [94] Jatinderveer Arora and Ors v State of Punjab AIR 2021 SC 760, and Vasant Waman Pradhan v Dattatraya Vithal Salvi and Ors MANU/MH/0549/2003 para 2.3.

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