Section 308 BNS : Extortion Laws and Your Rights

Section 308 BNS - Extortion
Section 308 BNS – Extortion

What is Section 308 BNS?

Section 308 BNS defines extortion as the act of making someone afraid of being harmed or causing harm to them or someone close to them, with the aim of forcing them to give up their property, valuable assets, or anything that can be turned into something valuable. This fear isn’t limited to physical harm, it can also involve damaging their reputation, property, or causing any other form of harm.

Here are a few scenarios to illustrate how extortion can happen:

  1. Defamatory Threat: A threatens to publish false and damaging statements about Z unless Z pays money. Even if the statements aren’t true, the threat is enough to scare Z into giving money. This is considered extortion.
  2. Wrongful Confinement Threat: A threatens to keep Z’s child illegally confined unless Z signs a promissory note to pay money to A. Fearing for the safety of their child, Z signs the note. This is also extortion.
  3. Property Destruction Threat: A threatens to send people to destroy Z’s field unless Z signs a bond promising to deliver certain produce to B. Afraid of losing their livelihood, Z signs the bond. This too falls under extortion.
  4. Fear of Physical Harm: A threatens Z with serious physical injury unless Z signs a blank paper and gives it to A. Even though the paper is blank, it could potentially be used for financial gain later. This act constitutes extortion.
  5. Electronic Threat: A sends a message to Z claiming to have kidnapped Z’s child and threatens to kill the child unless Z pays one lakh rupees or a large sum of money. This modern example of extortion through electronic means is also covered by the law.

The consequences for committing extortion can be severe, including imprisonment and heavy fine. The law aims to protect individuals from being victimized by such coercive tactics, ensuring that everyone can feel safe and secure in their property and rights.

Key Elements of Extortion under Section 308 BNS

Intention to Cause Harm: For an act to be classified as extortion under BNS 308, there must be a clear intention to cause harm. This harm could be physical, emotional, or financial.

Unlawful Gain: The person committing extortion must be seeking an unlawful gain. This means they are trying to acquire something to which they have no legal right.

Fear of Injury: A key element is the creation of fear. The victim must be put in a state of fear, leading them to part with their property or valuables.

Acts Constituting Extortion Under Section of BNS 308

Physical Threats: Using threats of physical harm to force someone into giving up their property.

Psychological Pressure: This can include blackmail or other forms of mental intimidation to extract valuables or money.

Use of Authority: Sometimes, people in positions of power misuse their authority to extort others. This could be seen in cases involving corrupt officials or influential figures.

Legal Definitions and Terminologies

Coercion: Coercion is a critical term in understanding extortion. It involves the use of force or threats to make someone do something against their will.

Property: In the context of extortion, property can mean anything of value, not just physical objects. It includes money, securities, or any valuable items.

Consent: For an act to be considered extortion, the victim’s consent must be obtained through fear of injury.

Difference Between Extortion and Robbery

Legal Distinctions: While both involve taking property through intimidation, robbery includes the element of force or immediate threat to physical safety, whereas extortion might involve a more extended form of pressure or threat.

Case Examples: For instance, robbing a bank at gunpoint is robbery, but threatening to release private photos unless money is paid is extortion.

Read: Section 308 BNS Bare Act

What is Punishment of Extortion Under Section 308 BNS?

When someone commits extortion using threats to make another person give them money or property, they face significant legal penalties. Here’s a breakdown of the punishments:

  1. Extortion: If someone is found guilty of extortion, they can be imprisoned for up to seven years, or they may have to pay a fine, or both. This punishment applies to anyone who commits extortion to unfairly gain something valuable from another person.
  2. Putting Someone in Fear of Injury: If the extortion involves threats of injury to scare someone into giving up their property, valuable assets, money, or anything that can be turned into something valuable, the punishment can be up to two years in prison, a fine, or both. This includes attempts to intimidate someone, even if the actual extortion doesn’t succeed.
  3. Threats of Death or Grievous Hurt: When threats are serious enough to cause fear of death or serious injury to the victim or their loved ones, penalties become much harsher. The offender could face up to seven years in prison along with a fine.
  4. Extortion with Threats of Death or Grievous Hurt: If someone successfully extorts others by threatening death or grievous hurt, they may face up to ten years in prison, plus fines.
  5. Attempts of Extortion with Threats of False Accusations: Anyone who tries to make someone afraid by threatening to accuse them or someone else of a serious crime, like one punishable by death, life imprisonment, or up to ten years imprisonment, with the intention of extorting them, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. This applies to attempts threats.
  6. Successful Commits Extortion with False Accusations for Serious Offenses: Anyone who commits extortion by making someone afraid by threatening to accuse them or someone else of a serious crime, like one punishable by death, life imprisonment, or up to ten years imprisonment, with the intention of extorting them, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. This applies to attempts threats. This applies to successful threats.

Section 308 BNS aims to safeguard individuals from the extortion, ensuring that those who commit such crimes face appropriate consequences under the law.

Is Section 308 BNS Bailable or Non-Bailable?

Offense under Section 308 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) is treated seriously by the law. Due to its severity, it is classified as a non-bailable offense. This means that if someone is accused under this section, they do not have the automatic right to bail. Instead, they must present their case to a judge and convince them to grant bail during a court hearing.

Is Section 308 BNS Cognizable or Not?

Offenses under Section 308 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) are categorized as “cognizable.” This gives the police authority to arrest someone accused under this section without a warrant. They can also initiate an investigation promptly upon receiving a complaint or witnessing the offense directly, without requiring a court order beforehand.

Is Section 308 BNS Compoundable or Not?

Section 308 BNS (Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita) crimes are considered “non-compoundable,” which means they cannot be settled privately between the parties involved and must be prosecuted by the state. Once the case is registered and legal proceedings begin, the decision on how to proceed lies with the court system or the prosecution, and not solely with the victim.

References:
1) BNS Bare Act
2) BNS