Supreme Court: The bench of Ashok Bhushan* and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ has laid down the essential ingredients required to be proved by prosecution to convict an accused under Section 364A IPC, i.e. kidnapping for ransom.

The essential ingredients are:

(i) Kidnapping or abduction of any person or keeping a person in detention after such kidnapping or abduction; and

(ii) threatens to cause death or hurt to such person, or by his conduct gives rise to a reasonable apprehension that such person may be put to death or hurt, or;

(iii) causes hurt or death to such person in order to compel the Government or any foreign State or any Governmental organization or any other person to do or abstain from doing any act or to pay a ransom.

The Court explained that after establishing first condition, one more condition has to be fulfilled since after first condition, word used is “and”. Thus, in addition to first condition either condition (ii) or (iii) has to be proved, failing which conviction under Section 364A cannot be sustained.

The Court was dealing with a case wherein a 13-year-old was kidnapped for ransom by a driver of an auto that the child had hired to go home from his school.

On 03.02.2011, the child went to a picnic organised by the school and returned to school at around 3:00 pm. Usually, he would wait for a regular (fixed) auto to drop him home from school but unfortunately on the said date, the same did not turn up. He then took another auto, after being advised the same by his father.

The accused, who was driving the said auto, took the child to the house of his sister and demanded a ransom of Rs.2 lakhs from the child’s father.

After receiving the phone call, the child’s father went to the police station and lodged report. The accused was apprehended by the Police while the child’s father was trying to handover the ransom to the accused. The Child was found in an auto a short distance away.

It is important to note that as per the statement of the child, he had himself stated he was treated in a good manner. He had also not alleged that any threat was extended to cause death or hurt to the victim.

In such circumstances, the second condition highlighted above, which is “and threatens to cause a death or hurt to such person, or by his conduct gives rise to a reasonable apprehension that such person may be put to death or hurt”, stood unfulfilled.

The Court, hence, set aside the conviction of the appellant under Section 364A.

However, from the evidence on record regarding kidnapping, it is proved that accused had kidnapped the victim for ransom, demand of ransom was also proved.

“The offence of kidnapping having been proved, the appellant deserves to be convicted under Section 363. Section 363 provides for punishment which is imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.”

The Court, hence, sentenced the accused to imprisonment of seven years and fine of Rs.5,000/- and directed that after completion of imprisonment of seven years (if not completed already) the appellant shall be released.

[Shaik Ahmed v. State of Telangana,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 436, decided on 28.06.2021]

*Judgment by: Justice Ashok Bhushan

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