3 mons ago
Author: EA DigestCategory : Criminal law
With the growing urbanization and all the progress that we have made, we are increasingly subjected to the instances of cheating and fraud. One can never be too sure and the conmen around are getting only better by the day. We keep hearing the instances of fraud and how the naïve were duped into it. The ever so comprehensive Indian Penal Code, 1860, does have specific sections that deal with the meaning and explanation of cheating and also prescribes the punishment for this offence. Read on to know more!
What is cheating?
Section 415 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, gives the definition and explanation for cheating. The section states that if someone deceives a person by fraud or dishonesty and induces them to either:-
- Deliver any property to any person;
- To consent that any person shall retain any property;
- Causes the person to do or omit something which they might not do or omit if they were not deceived.
When any such act or omission by the deceived person may cause a harm to the mind, body or property of that person, the person deceiving is said to have cheated.
This also implies that concealing the facts with dishonest intentions is deception.
The same can be explained with the help of a few simple examples such as if someone sells counterfeit goods with a copy label he is cheating the buyer. If someone mortgages fake jewellery for a loan and obtains the money knowing they are fake, they have cheated the lender.
Punishment for cheating
Section 417 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, deals with the punishment for the offence of cheating. It states that if a person is proven to be guilty of cheating under Section 415 they are punishable with an imprisonment term which may extend to one year. The jail term may also be combined with a fine.
It is a non-cognizable and bailable offence triable by any magistrate. It is also a compoundable offence by the person who was the victim of cheating.
How to file a criminal case?
If one is a victim of cheating, they can approach the police to register a First Information Report (FIR), an FIR is a crucial document which sets the criminal justice system in process.
In case the police refuses to file an FIR, the victim can approach the superintendent of police. After an FIR is registered the police conducts the investigation, which may include arrests. On the basis of the investigation, the police will record their findings in a challan or charge sheet. If it is deemed that there is enough proof on the charge sheet the case goes to the court.
The Supreme Court in the case of Devendra v. State of UP has stated that a misrepresentation from the very beginning is a sine qua non for the constitution of an offence of cheating, although in some cases, an intention to cheat may develop at a later stage of formation of the contract.
In another case of Rama Devi v. State of Bihar the Supreme Court has held that no action can be initiated in criminal court unless an intention to cheat is found to be present.
Emphasising the importance of intention to establish the offence of cheating, the Supreme Court in the case of Devendra Kumar Singla v. Baldev Krishan Singla has stated that in order to constitute an offence of cheating the intention to deceive should be in existence when the inducement was made. It is necessary to show that a person had fraudulent or dishonest intention at the time of making the promise. Mere failure to keep the promise subsequently cannot be presumed as an act leading to cheating.
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