How To Escape From A False 420 Case?

Law
01-Mar-2024
blog-img

Cheating, in its widest definition, encompasses a variety of actions meant to break the law for one's advantage. Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code has a rich historical background that dates back to the colonial era. Section 420 was a part of the original Indian Penal Code, which was drafted in 1860, while Britain was still in control of India. This section's goal was to discuss the widespread problem of fraud and cheating, which was causing havoc with society's social and economic structure.

The use of Section 420 was initially restricted to situations involving fraud involving actual property. But as the digital age and modern technology have progressed, its purview has broadened to include a variety of online fraud and cybercrimes. This development illustrates how flexible the law is and how important it is to preserve social order.

Section 420 IPC

Section 415 of the IPC defines cheating. The penalties for severe kinds of deception, as defined by Section 420, include dishonestly coercing the person being deceived into delivering property or tampering with valuable security. Section 420 expressly penalizes instances of severe deception. Section 417 penalizes cheating in any form, whether it be dishonest or fraudulent. On the other hand, Section 420 expressly penalizes cases in which property or valued security is the subject of deceitful inducement-based deception.

The individual who is deceived is:

  1. forced to give anything to someone else, or forced to make, change, or destroy; or
  2. anything that is sealed, signed, and has the potential to be turned into a valuable security, in its entirety or in part;
  3. when the property is delivered or inducements are made, there must be a guilty intention present.

Here, it is crucial to demonstrate that the accused persons' dishonest inducement led to the property being parted. Furthermore, the property that is delivered must have some monetary worth to the individual who was deceived.

Essential Components for Proving Cheating Under Section 420 of the IPC

To prove the crime of cheating under Section 420 of the IPC by coercing someone into delivering property, the following components must be proven:

  • The person's claim must be untrue.
  • The accused knew that the statement he made was untrue and false.
  • The accused intentionally and maliciously made false statements with the intent to deceive the receiver.
  • The act in which the accused coerced the subject into giving the object, acting in a way that the subject otherwise would not have, or into not acting at all.
  • Every crime must have mens rea, a legal phrase referring to the mental state or condition of the perpetrator at the time of the crime and the motivation behind it. It is a precise, prearranged, and expected purpose to carry out a particular deed.

Making a false representation is one of the most crucial elements required to prove the offense of cheating under Section 420 of the IPC. To prove cheating under Section 420 of the IPC, it is not sufficient to demonstrate that a false representation was made; additionally, it must be demonstrated that the accused knew the representation was false and that it was made to mislead the complainant. After that, Section 420 of the IPC for Cheating may be applied.

Crucial Elements for Establishing Cheating

  • Dishonesty: Section 24 of the IPR defines the term "dishonestly." It includes any action taken to cause property loss or unjust gain. Reputational harm is not covered by Section 24. For an act to be under the purview of this section, it must result in gain or loss by illicit methods. Gaining property to which one is not legally entitled or taking property away from someone to whom one is legally entitled should be the result of such an act.
  • Deception:  Successful prosecution under Section 420 necessitates demonstrating deception through deliberate persuasion, whether direct or indirect, to induce belief in something untrue or misleading. The representation must be made with fraudulent intent to conceal facts, with the prosecution proving the accused's knowledge or should-have-known status regarding the falsehood. Dishonesty, even through concealment, suffices under Section 415. For a Section 420 violation, a promise must be made without intent to fulfill, showcasing the absence of malicious intent. Both cheating and dishonesty must be present during the act for Section 420 application, warranting bail if absent.
  • Fraudulently: The IPC defines "fraudulently" under Section 25. According to the IPC, merely intending to cause actual or potential harm is sufficient for an act to be considered fraudulent. The standard for deceit was established in the 1962 case of Dr. Vimla v. Delhi Administration. The perpetrator purposefully portrays something erroneous or misleading as fact. In addition, they have to gain something from the deed that they could not have obtained if the truth had been known.
  • Deliberate coercion: An intentional incentive to engage in any behavior that is harmful to oneself is necessary for an act to be covered by this criterion. If the induced was not duped, the conduct that benefited the inducer should not have been conceivable. This incentive should genuinely harm the person or have a reasonable chance of harming their body, mind, reputation, or possessions.
  • Wilful representation: The offense of cheating requires mens rea. Cheating is defined as willful falsehood to mislead. Therefore, at the moment of making the false representation, the individual creating it must be aware that it is incorrect.
  • Damage: In order to prove an offense under Section 420, it must be demonstrated that the victim has suffered damage or is likely to have suffered damage.

Penalties Under Section 420 of the IPC:

Given the gravity of the offense, Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) imposes a very harsh penalty. A fine and a maximum seven-year jail sentence are the penalties under Section 420 of the IPC.

However, several variables may affect the punishment, including

  • Severity: A major factor in deciding the penalty is how serious the offense was. The penalty may be harsher if the victim has suffered a great deal as a result of the offense if there is a large amount of money or property involved, or both.
  • Repeat offenders: Penalties for repeat offenders are probably going to be more severe. The court may take into account the offender's prior conviction for a comparable offense when imposing a sentence.
  • Mitigating Factors: When deciding on a punishment, the court may also take into account any mitigating factors. These could include the offender's age, health, background, and attempts at making restitution to the victim.
  • Aggravating Factors: Any aggravating circumstance may result in a harsher penalty. These might involve the use of force or threats, the participation of additional persons in the crime, or the employment of cutting-edge techniques to commit the crime.

Types of Section 420 Cases

  1. Cheating by Personation - Section 416.

  • Personation-based cheating is covered in this section. A triggered structure of cheating is cheating by misleading representation. Personating someone else, or purposefully substituting someone else and claiming to be that person and representing that person, is known as false personation. Personation in and of itself is not illegal, but section 416 of the IPC will apply when someone acts dishonestly and fraudulently and poses as that other person.
  • In the landmark case of Baboo Khan v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the court determined that the accused had violated this IPC section by pretending to be a well-known eye specialist and convincing the claimant to consent to his operation on his 12-year-old son's eye.
  • Similarly, it was decided in the instance of R. Matameswara Rao that the offense was committed when the accused utilized a train season ticket issued in the name of someone else by pretending to be that person.
  1. Cheating with the knowledge that wrongful loss may ensue to a person whose interest the offender is bound to protect - Section 418

  • The penalty for cheating by someone acting in a fiduciary role toward the cheater is specified in this clause. A banker and a client, a principal and an agent, a guardian and a ward, a corporate director and a shareholder, an attorney and a client, and so on are examples of relationships of this kind.
  • As a result, the section held the director of a banking corporation accountable in the case of Q.E. v. Moss, where the director presented a shareholder with a balance sheet that he knew to be fraudulent and misleading, hiding the actual state of the business.
  1. Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property - Section 420

  • Cheating including property delivery is considered an aggravated offense under this clause, which carries a seven-year jail sentence (simple or severe) and a fine. 
  • This section pertains to instances of deception wherein property is delivered or valued security is destroyed.
  • In Mahadeo Prasad v. State of West Bengal, the accused thus coerced the defendant to give any property or else to act in a way that would cause him to do or not act on anything he otherwise would not have done.

Legal Remedies for False Section 420 Case

When someone files a false FIR (First Information Report) against an individual to falsely accuse them of a crime, the victim can seek following legal remedies,

Seeking Anticipatory Bail

In India, the victim of a false allegation should first seek anticipatory bail from the closest court with jurisdiction to do so if a First Information Report (FIR) is filed against them. This will protect them from being arrested based on a false accusation. Under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, anticipatory bail may be granted before the making of an arrest. By requesting anticipatory bail, the victim not only avoids an arrest that could result in severe emotional suffering and reputational damage, but it also gives him more time to adequately prepare his defense.

Application for Quashing Frivolous FIR filed under Section 482 of the Crpc

A person may apply to the High Court under Section 482 of the Crpc to have the baseless FIR against them annulled. Below are the grounds for filing a Section 482 of the Crpc petition before the High Court to have a bogus FIR quashed:

  • the act or omission does not constitute any crime.
  • the offense for which the accused has been the subject of a formal complaint has never occurred;
  • the FIR is on a baseless allegation without any solid evidence to support the accused's guilt.

Different phases in which a Section 482 application might be submitted to quash a false FIR:

  • Prior to the filing of a charge sheet;
  • Following the filing of a charge sheet;
  • While the trial is ongoing or following the start of the trial.

Writ petition under Constitutional Article 226

An individual can file a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution to the High Court to have a fraudulent police report filed against them quashed. The High Court has the authority to dismiss a false FIR if it determines that the accused has committed serious injustice. The High Court has the authority to grant writs of:

  • Writ of Mandamus: A police officer who files a fraudulent police report may be subject to a Writ of Mandamus, which orders him to carry out his duties in a legal manner;
  • Prohibition Writ: In order to stop criminal proceedings based on a fraudulent FIR filed against an accused individual, a Writ of Prohibition may be issued to the subordinate court handling that person's prosecution.

Appeal

Depending on the circumstances, the accused may choose to appeal their conviction to the Sessions Court, High Court, or Supreme Court. The Supreme Court Act, of 1970, the Indian Constitution, and the provisions of the CrPC regulate the appeals procedure.

Conclusion

According to the IPC, cheating occurs when someone deceives another person into performing an act or refraining from performing one. When determining the accused's culpability, his intention is a crucial factor that must be taken into account. Deception and inducement are the two primary components that must be taken into account for the offense to be committed. It must be demonstrated that the accused had the intent to deceive at the time of the false representation. It must be demonstrated that the accused made a commitment, broke it, and made no attempt to follow through on the pledge. However, in certain situations, individuals may be falsely accused of a crime. In such cases, the accused must seek legal assistance. By consulting with a lawyer, the accused can receive guidance on how to handle the situation and protect their rights throughout the legal process.