Section 417 of IPC
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Section 417 of IPC

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Source: Supreme Court

Why in News?

Recently, the bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and P B Varale heard a case on application of Section 417 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).

  • The aforesaid observation was made in the matter of Raju Krishna Shedbalkar v. The State of Karnataka.

What was the Background of Raju Krishna Shedbalkar v. The State of Karnataka Case?

  • The case revolves around a First Information Report (FIR) filed by Ms. Sushmita against six individuals, including the appellant, at Malamaruti Police Station, Karnataka.
  • The charges under several sections of IPC.
  • Ms. Sushmita alleged that the appellant, a prospective groom chosen by her family, deceived her by marrying another woman despite their engagement talks and the advance payment of Rs. 75,000 for the marriage hall.
  • The accused, including the appellant, his mother, sisters, and brothers, filed a petition to quash the proceedings, arguing that the allegations lacked merit and constituted an abuse of legal process.
  • The High Court's Single Judge ruled that the accused did not commit offences under IPC as alleged by Ms. Sushmita.
    • However, HC did not quash proceedings for Cheating under Section 417 of IPC against the appellant.
  • Hence, the appellant approached the Supreme Court.

What were the Court’s Observation?

  • The SC observed that it cannot comprehend how an offence even under Section 417 of IPC was made out against the present appellant. There can be multiple reasons for initiating a marriage proposal and then the proposal not reaching the desired end.
    • Hence, there was no such evidence before the prosecution and therefore no offence under Section 417 is also made out.
  • The SC allowed the appeal and set aside the order of the Trial Court to the extent it has refrained from quashing the proceedings under Section 417 IPC.

What is Cheating of Indian Penal Code?

  • Definition of Cheating:
    • Section 415 of IPC deals with the offence of cheating.
    • It states that whoever, by deceiving any person, fraudulently or dishonestly induces the person so deceived to deliver any property to any person, or to consent that any person shall retain any property, or intentionally induces the person so deceived to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation, or property, is said to “cheat”.
    • It is important to note that a dishonest concealment of facts constitutes deception under this section.
  • Essential of Cheating:
    • Deception:
      • The accused must have deceived another person by making a false representation or by any other dishonest act.
    • Fraudulent Intention:
      • The deception must have been done to induce the other person to deliver property, consent to the retention of property, or do or omit to do something he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived.
    • Act or omission Induced by Deception:
      • The deception must have caused the person to whom it was directed to either deliver property, consent to the retention of property, or do or omit to do something.
    • Dishonest Inducement:
      • The inducement must be dishonest. The accused must have induced the person by some deception, so as to enable him or her to act in a manner in which he or she would not otherwise have acted.
    • Presence of mens rea:
      • The accused must have had a guilty mind or mens rea at the time of committing the act of cheating.
  • Punishment for Cheating:
    • Section 417 of IPC deals with the punishment for cheating.
    • It states that whoever cheats shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

What are the Landmark Cases of Cheating under IPC?

  • Hridaya Ranjan Prasad Verma v. State of Bihar (2000):
    • In this case, SC held that to hold a person guilty of cheating it is necessary to show that he had fraudulent or dishonest intention at the time of making the promise.
  • Indian Oil Corporation v. NEPC India Ltd. and Others (2006):
    • Madras HC held that mere breach of contractual terms would not amount to cheating unless fraudulent or dishonest intention is shown right at the beginning of the transaction and in the absence of an allegation that the accused had a fraudulent or dishonest intention while making a promise, there is no “cheating”.
    • The HC cited illustration (f) of Section 415 of IPC.
      • A intentionally deceives Z into a belief that A means to repay any money that Z may lend to him and thereby dishonestly induces Z to lend him money, A not intending to repay it. A cheats.