Criminal Intimidation (Section 503 – 507 of IPC)

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‘Intimidation’ means inducing fear in the mind of the person. In this article, we will discuss what is criminal intimidation, its essential ingredients, punishment for it, how to prove criminal intimidation, and what are the differences between criminal intimidation, assault and extortion.

What is Criminal Intimidation?

When a person threatens to cause any injury to a person, his property, reputation, or anyone in whom that person is interested, intending to cause an alarm or cause the person to do any act which that person is not authorized to do or refrain from doing any authorized act, for avoiding the execution of such threat, it is called criminal intimidation.

Such threat also includes a threat to injure the deceased person’s reputation, who is related to the person being threatened.


P enters X’s house and threatens X and his daughter of causing injury to their reputation by exposing nude photographs of his daughter in public unless X agrees to pay a certain amount of money (Ramesh Chandra Arora Vs State, 1960).

A threatens B to call for strike or bandh, thereby causing a threat of any injury to the person’s reputation or property amounts to criminal intimidation (Communist Party of India Vs Bharat Kumar, 1997).

What are the essential ingredients in criminal intimidation?

To constitute criminal intimidation, there has to be:

  • Threat to cause injury to;
    a) a person, his property, reputation; or
    b) any other person in whom he is interested.
  • Intention to cause fear or alarm that causes the person to do or omit to do any act to avoid the execution of the threat.

Punishment for criminal intimidation

Criminal intimidation is a non-cognizable bailable offence that can be compounded at the instance of the intimidated person.

Following are the punishment for criminal intimidation:

  •  When a person commits criminal intimidation, then such person shall be liable to imprisonment, which may be up to two years or with a fine or both.
  • If such intimidation causes death, grievous hurt or destructs any property by fire then, such person shall be liable for imprisonment for life, or for a term of 7 years or with fine or with both (Section 506 of IPC).
  • Where criminal intimidation is caused by anonymous communication, then such person shall be liable for imprisonment, which may be up to two years or with a fine or both in addition to punishment stated under Section 506 (Section 507 of IPC).

How do you prove Criminal Intimidation?

  • There has to be a “criminal intention” to prove any criminal activity.
  • Such intention should cause a “threat” or an “alarm” to the person who is threatened that causes the person to restrain from doing any lawful act or causes the person to do any unlawful act.
  • A mere expression of words that does not create any threat or alarm will not constitute criminal intimidation.

Manika Taneja Vs State of Karnataka, (2014) 7 SCC 423

The Supreme Court of India held that ‘intention’ is fundamental to constitute a crime under criminal intimidation. Such intention should cause an alarm so that the person does or omits from doing authorized work. And a mere post on the Facebook page or a mere expression of words does not constitute any offence of criminal intimidation. Therefore, the court had quashed the FIR filed under Section 503 of IPC.

Difference between Criminal intimidation and Assault

Any gesture or preparation made with the intention of causing any person to apprehend that the gesture or preparation is about to be used is called an assault (Section 351 of IPC).

Assault and criminal intimidation looks the same but are two different offences. Let us discuss these differences in detail.

Criminal Intimidation
In assault, there is an apprehension that any force is likely to be used against the person  in Criminal intimidation, there is a threat to cause any harm to the person, his reputation or property, and the person related to the person threatened.
Completion of Offence
In assault, the offence is completed as soon as any preparation or gesture is made. In criminal intimidation, the commission of the force can be avoided if the person threatened acts in accordance with the offender.
Presence of person
In assault, the person against whom such gesture or preparation of threat is made is present, In criminal intimidation, the threat can be made in the presence of the person and the deceased person in whom such threatened person is interested.
Punishment for assault is imprisonment for three months or with a fine or with both. In criminal intimidation, the offender is liable for imprisonment for two years or with a fine or both.
X shakes his fist at P, intending it to be likely that he may thereby cause P to believe that X is about to strike P, X has committed assault. X shakes his fist at P, intending it to be likely that he may thereby cause P to believe that X is about to strike P if P does not abstain from complaining to the police about X. X has committed criminal intimidation.

Difference between Criminal intimidation and Extortion

Having delved into the differences between criminal intimidation and assault, we will now discuss criminal intimidation and extortion. Criminal intimidation is also similar to extortion, but there are some differences that are discussed below.

Criminal Intimidation
In extortion, the intention is to obtain any property or valuable security. in criminal intimidation, the intention is threatening a person to do any unauthorized act or abstain from doing any authorized act which would harm the person, property, or reputation.
In extortion, the victim is put to fear of injury to deliver valuable security or property. in criminal intimidation, the victim is threatened to do or abstain from doing any act, there is no delivery of property.
In extortion, the offence is caused against the person directly. In criminal intimidation, the offence may or may not be caused directly against the threatened person.

FIR for Criminal Intimidation

Here is the sample format for filing a complaint against criminal intimidation:


Criminal Complaint No. ____/20___

From (Complainant’s detail),

Name: __________.
Name of Father/Husband: _________.
Contact Address: __________.
Mobile Number/ Phone Number: __________.
E-mail id. (If any)
Date: _______.

The Police Officer In-charge
Local Police Station Name: _______,


Respected Sir,

The Complainant, residing at the address mentioned above and the accused, residing at _______.
This is concerning the crime committed against me and would like to list the following facts to your kind notice (give details about time of occurrence, number of people involved, the kind of object used to cause the threat, whether any injury has been caused, etc.):

The accused has committed an offence u/s 504 of IPC.

I request you to kindly register my complaint and help me with the subject matter.

For your ready reference, I attach herewith
Copy of ID proof (Complainant/informant).

I hope you will do the needful at the earliest.

Thanks, and regards

Yours Sincerely;
_________ (Name and Signature of Complainant/ Informant).


Criminal intimidation is covered under Section 503 of IPC. When a person is threatened to cause injury to a person, his reputation, property or any other person in whom such threatened person is interested, to cause an alarm to such person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do or abstain from doing any act which he is legally bound to do. Such threat can be caused against the deceased person also. Any person who commits an offence of criminal intimidation is liable for imprisonment, which may extend to three years, a fine, or both. Criminal intimidation is different from assault and extortion. The key ingredient for an offence of criminal intimidation is the threat to cause injury and intention.


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