Section 420 IPC: Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property

20 Oct 2022  Read 30608 Views

In India, the number 420, also known as "Char Sau bees," is frequently used to describe mischievous acts or someone as a conman. Is it as evident in law as it sounds casual?

India records quite a few Sections, 420 instances daily. Before grasping the entire section, let's first comprehend some of section 420 of the IPC.

What is given under S. 420 IPC?

Section 415 of the IPC defines cheating. The penalty for aggravated cheating is outlined in Section 420 when the offender dishonestly persuades the victim who has been deceived to deliver any property or meddle with any valued security.

In other words, Section 420 particularly penalises more severe cases of cheating. Under Section 417, cheating is illegal regardless of whether it was done dishonestly or fraudulently. In contrast, Section 420 particularly penalises situations in which fraud is committed using deceptive inducement when the fraud's target is real estate or valued security.

For example,

"A" requests money from "B." A purposefully misleads B into thinking that A intends to repay whatever money B may lend him, dishonestly persuading B to lend him money. Considering that "A" has no intention of paying it back, "A" has cheated.

Using the same name as a wealthy banker, "A" defrauds by impersonating him. Using a persona, "A" cheats "B."

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Nature of the offence under Sec. 420 IPC

An offence under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (the "IPC") is cognisable and non-bailable under Schedule 1 of CrPC. Any court lower than a first-class magistrate cannot hear the case. By the court's approval, cheating may be compounded or settled under Section 320 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Applicability of the offence

The Indian Penal Code's Section 420 only applies when the following conditions are met:

-        Cheating

-        A dishonest enticement to make, change or destroy all or any portion of the property that could be used to create valuable security or to deliver any property to anybody

-        Mens rea of the offender

Mens rea is a legal term that refers to a person's deliberate state of mind when committing a crime. It can describe a general desire to break the law and a specific, predetermined plot to execute a particular crime. To convict an accused individual of a crime, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant actively and intentionally participated in an offence that endangered another person or their property.

Ingredients of Section 420 IPC

The following conditions must be present for cheating to be considered a crime:

·   The accused made a false representation;

·   The accused made the representation knowing it to be untrue at the time;

·   To deceive the person to whom it was made, the accused made the false representation; and

·   By doing so, the accused forced that individual to provide any property or to act or refrain from acting in a way he otherwise would not have.

·   The penalty for violating Section 420 is a term of imprisonment of up to 7 years and a fine.

Procedure of filing case u/s 420 IPC

1. FIR

2. Investigation

3. Charges

4. Plea of Guilty

5. Prosecution evidence

6. Statement of the accused

7. Defence evidence

8. Judgment

Section 420 IPC Punishment

The person charged with the offence of cheating under section 420 IPC will be punished with imprisonment for seven years and a fine.

Section 420/34 IPC punishment- suppose X, Y and Z together take money from A to open a business and then refuse to give it back.. what do you think? how will the punishment be calculated? the court will award 7 years of imprisonment, a fine for cheating, additional imprisonment, and a fine for common intention.

Difference between Fraud and Cheating

The fundamental distinction between cheating and fraud is that cheating is a collective offence for each offence. Contrary to this, fraud is any action or inaction meant to benefit one party at the expense of another, whether by deception or otherwise. Their areas of focus are where they diverge. Section 415 of the IPC defines cheating, while Sections 421, 422, 423, and 424 of the IPC discuss the repercussions of fraud.

Case Laws on Cheating

1. If the accused created a fake marriage commitment to trick the woman into having sex with him, does it constitute cheating or not? In the case of Ravichandran v. Mariyammal (1992) Cr LJ 1675 (Mad), the court of law determined that making false representations, misleading any lady, and engaging in sexual activity with another person constitute acts that constitute cheating and are criminal under section 417 of the IPC.

2. The respondent in Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai Patel v. State Of Gujarat & Anr (2012) alleged that the appellant had obtained Rs. 20 lakh hypothecation loan but had failed to repay it. The appellant issued a cheque to cover the liability above, but it was returned as unpaid when it was presented. The Negotiable Instruments Act's Section 138 addresses cheque dishonour. The appellant argued that it was against the law of double jeopardy, which states that no one may be tried and punished more than once for the same offence, for them to be charged under Section 138 and Section 420 for the same offence. According to the Supreme Court, Section 420 and Section 138 offences have fundamentally different elements. A person may therefore be charged under both sections.

3. State of Kerala v. A.  Pareed Pillai and Anr. (1972)- In the case of Pareed Pillai and another, a two-judge bench ruled that to prove someone guilty of the crime of cheating, it must be shown that the accused had a dishonest intention at the time the commitment was made. This dishonest intention could not be inferred from the simple fact that the accused could not fulfil the commitment later.  In the case of S.W., an identical viewpoint was taken into account. S.W. Palanitkar and ors. v. State of Bihar and Anr.


Section 420 has done a commendable job of discouraging and penalising cases of dishonesty and cheating, even though improvements and changes are still required. Section 420 has survived the test of time, despite the IPC's inception, the rise of the phrase "chaar sau bees," the rise of cyberfrauds, and other cutting-edge 21st-century cheating techniques.

About the Author: Gurpreet Kaur Dutta | 82 Post(s)

A legal content writer who pursued BBA-LL.B.(H) from Amity University Chhattisgarh. She has a keen interest in corporate and IPR sectors. 

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