The Offence of Cheating

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Section 415. Cheating

Whoever, by deceiving any person, fraudulently or dishonestly induces the person so deceived to deliver any property to any person, or to consent that any person shall retain any property, or intentionally induces the person so deceived to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property, is said to “cheat”.

Explanation.- A dishonest concealment of facts is a deception within the meaning of this section.

Section 415 to Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 lays down the provisions relating to the offence of cheating. The important elements for constituting the offence of cheating under Section 415 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 are as follows:

  • A person must be induced, fraudulently or dishonestly by way of an act of deception committed against him;
  • The person who have been so deceived should (a) either be induced to deliver any property to any other person or if the property is in the possession of some other person, he must be induced to consent to that other person retaining the property.

Alternatively, the person who has been so deceived should be induced to do something which he would not have done or omit to do something which he would have done if he were not induced.

  • The above inducement must result in the damage or harm to the person who has been so induced. The damage may be to the body, mind, reputation or to the property of that individual[i].

The first essential requirement for the offence of cheating is to deceive a person. A person is said to be deceived when he is made to believe something that is false or disbelieve something that is true[ii]. It is not necessary that the person must be deceived by the word of mouth. If a person is deceived by the conduct of the offender, that shall amount to a valid deception[iii]. It is a trite position of law that if the offender makes a false promise of marriage to a woman in order to induce her to indulge in sexual intercourse with the offender, the offence of cheating will thereby be committed by him[iv]. However, a dishonest intention on the part of the offender from the very beginning is a sine qua non for the offence of cheating[v]. In case a person makes an honest promise to marry a woman but later on he is not able to honour the promise, the offence of cheating shall not be committed by him[vi].

Secondly, the person who has been so deceived must be induced to either deliver the property to the offender or to do something which he would not have done if he were not so induced. Absence of such an inducement to the victim will not result in the offence of cheating committed against him[vii]. Such a dishonest inducement must either result in a wrongful gain to the offender or a wrongful loss to the victim[viii].

The inducement so caused above must result in a harm to the victim in body, mind, reputation or property. It is essential that there is a direct and proximate cause between the act or omission on the part of the offender and the resultant harm that is caused to the victim[ix]. In case no wrongful gain or wrongful loss was caused to the complainant because of the inducement so caused, the offence of cheating shall not be committed[x].

Punishment For Cheating

The offence of cheating has been made punishable by Section 417 as well as Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Section 417 of the IPC provides the punishment for a simple case of cheating wherein the person who is injured is not induced to part with the property he holds[xi]. Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code punishes the aggravated form of cheating. It deals with those cases of cheating whereby the person who is deceived is induced to deliver any property to any person or is induced to destroy or alter the property[xii]

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Another distinction between Section 417 and Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is the nature of deception by which the property is delivered. If the delivery of the property is obtained fraudulently, then the offence is punishable under Section 417. However, if the delivery is obtained by dishonest means, the offence is punishable under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860[xiii].

Cheating By Personation

The offence of cheating by personation is dealt with by Section 416 and Section 419 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Cheating by personation is defined by Section 416 to be as follows:

  • Pretending to be some other person
  • Knowingly substituting one person for another
  • Representing that he or any other person is a person other than he or such other person really is.

The offence of cheating by personation is made punishable by Section 419 which provides that the offender shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine or with both.

Cheating Out Of Fiduciary Relationship

Fiduciary relationship refers to a relationship of trust between the individuals. Examples of fiduciary relationship include guardian and ward, director of a company, advocate and client, etc. Section 418 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 provides punishment for cheating in a fiduciary relationship. Cheating in a fiduciary relationship arises when a person makes a false statement knowing it to be false with an intention of dishonestly inducing other person to deliver his property[xiv]. The cheating in a fiduciary relationship is made punishable by imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

(Author: Manik Mahajan, pursuing LLB from Department of Laws, Panjab University, Chandigarh.)


[i] Ram Jas vs. State of Uttar Pradesh., AIR 1974 SC 1811.

[ii] Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari vs. Shailendar Bhushan., (1995) Cr LJ 1810 Del.

[iii] Hariram Nayak vs. Surendra Kumar Mallick., (1986) Cr LJ 1271 (Ori).

[iv] Ravichandran vs. Mariyammal., (1992) Cr LJ 1675 (Mad).

[v] VY Jose vs. State of Gujarat., (2009) 3 SCC 78.

[vi] Hari Majhi vs. State of West Bengal., (1990) Cr LJ 650.

[vii] Shri Bhagwan Samardha Sreepadha Vallabha Venkata Vishwananda Maharaj vs. State of Andhra Pradesh., AIR 1999 SC 2332.

[viii] Tulsi Ram vs. State of Uttar Pradesh., AIR 1963 SC 666.

[ix] Ramji Lakhamsi vs. Harshadrai., AIR 1960 Bom 268.

[x] Ramkrishna Babura Maske vs. Kisan Shivraj Shelke., (1975) Cr LJ 173 (Bom).

[xi] Anilesh Chandra vs. State of Assam., AIR 1951 Assam 122.

[xii] Banwarilal Agarwal vs. A Suryanarayan., (1994) Cr LJ 370 (Ori).

[xiii] Hari Singh Gour, Penal Law of India, Vol 4, 11th Edition Law Publishers, Allahabad, 1998, at p. 4200.

[xiv] Mobarik Ali Ahmed vs. State of Bombay., AIR 1957 SC 857.