Kidnapping and abduction are standard plot devices in Indian television serials, often used to create dramatic tension & suspense. These plotlines usually depict power, control, and victimisation, like in "Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai", "Ishq Mein Marjawan", "Crime Patrol", etc.
However, these plotlines can be entertaining and harmful at the same time, such as spreading dangerous stereotypes and misconceptions. So, it gets important to get familiar with these terms and their differences, as they must not be used synonymously.
So, let’s discuss the law on kidnapping and abduction in this article, the differences and many more in this article.
How many kidnapping cases were recorded in India?
According to the NCRB data of 2021, a total of 67,245 kidnapping cases of children were registered in India in which Maharashtra witnessed the highest number of kidnapping instances (9,555 cases), including 3,401 minor girls between the age of 12 to 16. followed by Madhya Pradesh (9,137) and Uttar Pradesh (6,814).
Meaning of kidnapping and abduction
Meaning- Kidnapping involves taking away minors or persons of unsound mind against their will from their legal guardianship for ransom, beyond India's limits. In contrast, Abduction, on the other hand, refers to compelling or inducing any individual by using force or through any deceitful means to take him or her from one place to another without mandatorily having a specific motive or demand for ransom.
Seriousness- Kidnapping is often considered a more serious crime than abduction, as it involves the intention to use the victim for some sort of gain or ransom. It attracts severe penalties, such as long prison sentences etc.
Similarity- In both of these, the victim is taken against their will, and both crimes can cause serious emotional distress & trauma to the victim.
Kidnapping under IPC
To understand the word's meaning, let’s break it into two- ‘kidnapping’- ‘kid’, meaning child and ‘napping’, meaning steal. Hence, it means 'stealing a child'.
Kidnapping from India
Kidnapping from lawful guardianship
In India, the offence of kidnapping includes stealing children and carrying away a human being without his or her consent or without legal guardians' consent, in the case of males under 16 yrs. or females under 18 yrs.
In Thakorlal D. Vadgama v. State of Gujarat (1973):
Facts- Thakori Lal was the accused who was held liable for kidnapping under Section 363. He kidnapped a minor girl from the lawful guardianship of her father by inducing her to leave her father’s place & motivating her that he would shelter her.
Judgment- The SC held that "mere circumstances that his action does not cause her to leave her parental home immediately will not be a defence for the accused to settle his offence of kidnapping".
Types of Kidnapping
1. Kidnapping from India
Section 360 specifies kidnapping from India, stating, “ Whoever conveys any person beyond the limits of India without the consent of that person, or of some person legally authorised to consent on behalf of that person, is said to kidnap that person from India.”
Essentials are herein described:
Conveying the person beyond the limits of India. The offence would not be complete until the person reaches not only a foreign territory
Without the consent of such person or person legally authorised to give consent on that person's behalf.
This offence is not restricted to minors or persons of unsound mind but may be perpetrated against any person, male or female irrespective of nationality and age.
2. Kidnapping from lawful guardianship
Section 361 specifies kidnapping from lawful guardianship stating, “Whoever takes or entices any minor under sixteen years of age if a male, or under eighteen years of age if a female, or any person of unsound mind, out of the keeping of the lawful guardian of such minor or person of unsound mind, without the consent of a such guardian, is said to kidnap such minor or person from lawful guardianship.”
Essentials are herein described:
Taking or enticing a minor or unsound person.
Such minors must be under 16 yrs of age in case of male or under 18 yrs of age in case of female,
Taking or enticing out of the keeping of lawful guardian,
Without the consent of the legal guardian.
The offence under this provision is complete as soon as a minor or person of unsound mind is actually taken away from legal guardianship and the consent of minors is completely immaterial.
3. Kidnapping for begging (Section 363A)
Section 363A further extends the scope of Section 363 of the Indian Penal Code, which provides punishment for “Kidnapping or maiming a minor to beg”. The punishment extends to 10 years of detainment of either description and a fine for kidnapping a minor to beg & life imprisonment for maiming a minor to beg.
Minor should be kidnapped or maimed
Kidnapper must not be a lawful guardian
Kidnappers must take custody of such minor
Minor must be used for purposes of begging
Abduction under IPC
Abduction means taking away any person by using deceitful tricks for the purpose of perpetrating some offence.
Essentials of abduction-
1. By force- a person is forced to go from one place to another place, against his or her will. The use of force must be actual, and not just a threat.
Let’s take an example: A enters B’s office at night and drags him out, as B resisted, but was beaten in the end by a rod. This would amount to abduction as B is compelled by force to go from one place to another.
2. Deceitful Means- As per Section 362, abduction can take place by inducing someone to go from someplace by misleading him or her to do something he or she would not normally do.
Say for example: ‘A’ in disguise of a police officer convinces a girl to go somewhere else and due to A’s misrepresentation the girl gets convicnced. In this case, ‘A’ uses deceitful means to commit the crime of abduction.
For this offence to be completed, the person must be compelled to go from one place to another, either forcefully or by using deceitful means, as explained above.
Abduction in itself is not a crime, but when added with the intention to commit other offences becomes punishable such as abduction for kidnapping is punishable in Section 363A with imprisonment up to 10 years, and abduction with the intention of murder is punishable with life detainment etc.
Say for example: X enters the house of a girl, Y and lifts her to take her away, but during this attempt, Y rings an alarm and hurriedly X drops Y runs away, in such a case X will not be liable for the abduction but liable for attempting to abduct.
Difference between Kidnapping and Abduction
The act of taking someone (minor+ person of unsound mind+ any male or female) against their will with the intent to hold them for ransom, gain leverage in negotiations etc.
|The act of taking someone away by force or deception without necessarily having a specific motive or demand for ransom
Involves intention to use the victim for some sort of gain
|May or may not involve a specific motive or demand for ransom.
More serious offence
|Less severe offense than kidnapping.
A felony offense with severe penalties, including long prison sentences & heavy fines.
|Can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the crime.
Causes severe emotional distress & trauma to the victim and their loved ones.
|Causes severe emotional distress and trauma to the victim and their loved ones.
Landmark Cases on Kidnapping in India
1. State of Punjab v. Gurmit Singh (1996)
The SC decided this case in 1996, wherein it was held that it involved the kidnapping and murder of a young girl. So, the accused was guilty of both kidnapping and murder, and passed the death sentence.
2. Mohd. Haji v. State of Maharashtra (2003)
In this 2003 case, the Bombay High Court held that for a crime to be considered kidnapping, the evidence must be present and the intent of the accused to take the victim away against their will. The court also clarified that the mere act of restraining a person's movement does not mandatorily constitute kidnapping.
3. State of Rajasthan v. Laxman (2012)
The Supreme Court, in this case, decided in 2012 that this matter involved the abduction and rape of a minor girl. So, the accused was guilty of both abduction and rape, and sentenced him to life detainment.
4. State of Kerala v. Rasheed (2019)
The Kerala High Court held that the crime of kidnapping can be perpetrated even if the victim is taken away with their consent, if the consent was obtained through fraud or deception.
5. Kavita Chandrakant Lakhani v. State of Maharashtra (2018)
It was well established that the mere abduction of a woman is insufficient to attract the offence unless it was proved that the accused abducted the woman with an intention to force her marriage or to force or seduce her to illicit intercourse with another person.
Competitive Exam questions on kidnapping & abduction
1. What is the legal definition of kidnapping in India?
a. Taking a person away without their consent
b. Taking a person away intending to hold them for ransom or some other gain
c. Taking a person away with the intent to commit a crime
d. Taking a person away by force, fraud, or threat
2. What is the punishment for kidnapping under the Indian Penal Code?
a. Imprisonment for a term of seven years to life imprisonment
b. Imprisonment for a term of two years to five years
c. Imprisonment for a term of six months to three years
d. Imprisonment for a term of one year to three years
3. Which law enforcement agency is responsible for investigating cases of kidnapping and abduction in India?
a. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
b. National Investigation Agency (NIA)
c. State police and law enforcement agencies
4. Which of these does not involves intent or motive?
c. Both a and b
d. None of the above
5. What is the difference between kidnapping and abduction?
a. Kidnapping involves taking a person away without their consent, while abduction involves taking a person away with the intent to hold them for ransom or some other gain.
b. Kidnapping involves taking a person away with the intent to hold them for ransom or some other gain, while abduction involves taking a person away without their consent.
c. Kidnapping and abduction are used synonymously
d. Kidnapping involves taking a person away intending to commit a crime, while abduction involves taking a person away without their consent.