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Causing hurt or grievous hurt to extort property (Section 327 & 329 of IPC)

1. Voluntarily causing hurt to extort property, or to constrain to an illegal act (Sec. 327)

“Whoever voluntarily causes hurt, for the purpose of extorting from the sufferer, or from any person interested in the sufferer, any property or valuable security, or of constraining the sufferer or any person interested in such sufferer to do anything which is illegal, or which may facilitate the commission of an offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

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2. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt to extort property, or to constrain to an illegal act (Sec. 329)

“Whoever voluntarily causes grievous hurt for the purpose of extorting from the sufferer or from any person interested in the sufferer any property or valuable security, or of constraining the sufferer or any person interested in such sufferer to do anything that is illegal or which may facilitate the commission of an offence, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Sections 327 and 329 apply to cases where the offender voluntarily causes hurt or grievous hurt for the purpose of extorting property or to compel a person to do an illegal act. The following are the essential ingredients of these two sections:

i) A person should voluntarily cause hurt or grievous hurt;

ii) It should be for the purpose of extorting from the victim or from any person interested in the victim, any property or valuable security; or

iii) Should be for the purpose of compelling the victim or any person interested in the victim to do an illegal act or facilitate the commission of an offence.

These sections are really intended to reach extortioners and others ejusdem generis who use the argumentum ad baculum to obtain property or thing to which they have no right whatever. It is not necessary that the property should have been obtained, but it should have been object, and with that object the hurt in question should have been inflicted.

These sections appear to have no application to cases in which hurt or grievous hurt caused by a person for the assertion of his claim of right to property in the possession of the sufferer; as is the case where a person being in possession of the property, another, claiming to be the rightful owner, beats him off and takes possession of the property.

The word ‘property’ means both movable and immovable property. The term ‘property’ is evidently used here in its large generic sense in connoting not only objects and things which may be the subject of ownership, but also all interests therein which the law protects and regards as property.

As per Section 30 of the Code, the words ‘valuable security’ denote a document which is, or purports to be, a document whereby any legal right is created, extended, transferred, restricted, extinguished or released, or whereby any person acknowledges that he lies under legal liability, or has not a certain legal right. The term ‘valuable security’ is also used in its largest sense as including all documents of title. A person who causes hurt to another to compel him to sign a deed of title would then fall within the penal visitation of Section 327.

The word ‘interest’ is used in its largest sense as implying interest of any kind, whether tie of blood or relationship by marriage, service or even friendship.

These Sections of 327 and 329 revert to simple hurt or grievous hurt inflicted in order to commit extortion or to facilitate the commission of an offence, or in order to compel the sufferer to do anything illegal.

The second clause refers to hurt caused to constrain another to do anything illegal or which may facilitate the commission of an offence by the assailant.

The last object mentioned is the commission of an offence. This evidently means commission of an offence by the assailant.

The crux of Sections 327 and 329 is not the nature of the injury, but the purpose for which the injury has been caused. Of course, the nature of the injury caused will determine the quantum of punishment. If the injury caused is simple hurt, then the punishment prescribed is imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years and fine under Section 327. If the injury caused is grievous hurt, then the punishment prescribed is imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years and fine under Section 329.

Offence under Section 327 and 329 are cognizable and warrant should issue in the first instance. They are non-bailable and non- compoundable and the offence under Section 327 is triable by a Magistrate of the first class and the offence under Section 329 is triable by the Court of Session.

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