Hawkins defines cheating as deceitful practices in defrauding or endeavoring to defraud another of his own right by means of some artful device contrary to the plane rule of common honesty. [Smith and Hogan, criminal law 10th edition; 2003 page 568 to 569]. Cheating at common law was a misdemeanor and punishable by imprisonment and fine.
Section 415 in The Indian Penal Code – 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.
Ingredients for cheating
- Deception of any person
- Fraudulently or dishonestly inducing that person; and
- Delivery of any property to any person
This section covers only simple cases of cheating when there is a delivery of any property or destruction of any valuable security section 420 IPC is attracted.
In K. Krishnamurthy vs State of Andhra Prades, AIR 1965 SC 333, the Supreme Court held that the offence of cheating by personation under section 416 and 419 IPC was committed when the accused making the false representation as to his name and qualification for a post in an application made to the public service commission and the government appointed into the post on the Recommendation of the commission.
Deception of the statutory body Public Service Commission and the government which is the appointing authority is completed when he got an appointment and the payment of a salary to the appellant for the post. It amounted to a delivery of property within the meaning of section 415 IPC.
Section 416 in The Indian Penal Code – Cheating by personation
A person is said to “cheat by personation” if he cheats by pretending to be some other person, or by knowingly substituting one person for another, or representing that he or any other person is a person other than he or such other person really is.
Explanation.—The offense is committed whether the individual personated is a real or imaginary person.
The offense under this section consists of cheating by personation. The offense of cheating by false representation is an aggravated form of cheating. False personation consists of personating another or by knowingly substituting another person and pretending to be that other person and representing that other person.
Personation by itself is no offense but when a person fraudulently and dishonestly does a fraudulent act and represents as if he is himself that other person, section 416 IPC will be attracted
In Baboo Khan vs State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1961 All 639, the accused, who pretended to be a certain well-known eye specialist and induced the complainant to allow him to perform an operation on the eye of his 12-year-old son was found guilty under the section.
Section 417 in The Indian Penal Code – Punishment for cheating.
Whoever cheats shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
Section 418 in The Indian Penal Code – Cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may ensue to person whose interest offender is bound to protect.
Whoever cheats with the knowledge that he is likely thereby to cause wrongful loss to a person whose interest in the transaction to which the cheating relates, he was bound, either by law, or by a legal contract, to protect, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
This section prescribes the punishment for cheating by a person standing in a fiduciary capacity to the person cheated such relationship exists between a Banker and customer, the principal and an agent, Guardian and ward, director of a company and the shareholder etc.
- The accused cheated a person whose interests he was under a legal obligation to protect;
- The accused knew that he was likely to cause wrongful loss to such person.
The offense is non-cognizable, bailable and compoundable with the permission of the court.
Section 419 in The Indian Penal Code – Punishment for cheating by personation.
Whoever cheats by personation shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 420 in The Indian Penal Code – Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property.
Whoever cheats and thereby dishonestly induces the person deceived to deliver any property to any person, or to make, alter or destroy the whole or any part of a valuable security, or anything which is signed or sealed, and which is capable of being converted into a valuable security, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
This section is an aggravated form of cheating and provides enhanced punishment which may extend to 7 years of imprisonment (simple or rigorous) and fine. The section applies to those cases of cheating which involves delivery of property or destruction of a valuable security.
The offense of cheating is established when the following ingredients are proved, namely –
- That the representation made by the accused was false;
- That the accused knew the representation was false at the very time when he made it;
- That the accused made the false representation with the dishonest intention of deceiving the person to whom it was made; and
- That the accused thereby induced that person to deliver any property or to do or to omit to do something which he would otherwise not have done or omitted. [Mahadeo Prasad vs State of West Bengal, AIR 1954 SC 724]
Section 420 requires the delivery of property in addition to deception and inducement as required under section 415 [Mubarak Ali Ahmed vs State AIR 1957 SC 857]. The deception must be with a dishonest and fraudulent intent without which no offense under section 420 can be said to be committed. [A. Pareed Pillai vs State AIR 1973 SC 326]
A person can be said to have done a thing dishonestly if he does so with the intention of causing wrongful gain to one person and wrongful loss to another. Therefore, a dishonest act is necessary to establish for the purpose of Section 420.
Difference between section 415 and section 420
The difference between section 415 and section 420 is that wherein pursuance of deception knows property passes but inducement generated in the mind the fence comes under section 415 that is (simple cheating). But where in pursuance of the deception property is delivered the offenses punishable under section 420. Section 415 deals with cheating but section 420 deals with the species of cheating which involves delivery of property or destruction of a valuable security. Punishment for the offense under section 415 is one year (section 417), while under section 420 up to 7 years imprisonment.
Author – Mayank Shekhar
- K.D. Gaur, Textbook on Indian Penal Code, Fifth Edition 2014
- Ratanlal and Dhirajlal, Indian Penal Code, Thirty-Fifth Edition
- SCC Online