This section was added in the Indian Penal Code by Act 42 of 1993 mainly with the object of dealing much more effectively with the crimes of kidnapping or abduction for ransom which have grown enormously in recent years. The section contemplates that the offender must commit the offence of kidnapping or abduction of a person or keep him in detention after such kidnapping or abduction. He must threaten to cause death or hurt to such person. In the alternative, his conduct must be such as to give rise to a reasonable apprehension that such person may be put to death or hurt.
In yet another alternative, he must cause death or hurt to such person. The purpose of doing so must be to compel either the government or any other person to do or abstain from doing either any act or to pay a ransom. The section is of very wide import. Pressure tactics on the part of the offender against any person as also against the government have been included within the purview of the section. Similarly, compelling the government or any person to do a positive act or a negative act have both been brought within the realm of this section. The government has deliberately been included in view of some recent developments like kidnapping or abduction by militants with the object of putting the government on the defensive. The use of the words ‘any act’ has considerably widened the scope of the section.
By doing so the Parliament has almost covered the entire area besides the ransom cases. The offence is viewed as very serious is clear from the very stern penalty including sentence of death prescribed by the section. In Netra Pal v. State (NCT of Delhi) a child was recovered from the custody of the accused by a raiding party and a letter demanding ransom was recovered from him. The accused had neither posted the letter nor personally contacted the family of the child demanding ransom for three days after kidnapping till he was arrested. The Delhi High Court held that mere writing a letter by the accused and keeping it in his pocket would not tantamount to demand to pay ransom in absence of its communication to family of the child and thus offence under section 364-A of the Code is not made out. However, his conviction under sections 365 and 363 is proper. In Malleshi v.
State of Karnataka, the object of abduction was for ransom. This was clearly conveyed to the victim prosecution witness who was even conveyed the amount to be paid. The Supreme Court observed that it cannot be laid down as a straight- jacket formula that the demand for payment has to be made to a person who ultimately pays. By way of illustration it can be said that a rich businessman is abducted. He is told that for his release his family members have to pay a certain amount of money; but money actually belongs to the person abducted. The payment for release is made by the person to whom the demand is made. The demand originally is made to the person abducted or kidnapped. After making the demand to the kidnapped or abducted person merely because the demand could not be conveyed to some other person, as the accused is arrested in the meantime, does not take away the offence out of the purview of section 364-A.
In State of Maharashtra v. Anil alias Raju Namdeo Patil, a five years old child was kidnapped from school and he never returned. The accused was a former driver of the victim’s father.
At his instance some bones were recovered from a place sometime after the incident. DNA tests proved that the bones were of the child victim. Confession of the accused and extra-judicial confession of the co-accused showed that they had planned to kidnap the child and demand ransom. The suicide note of the co-accused who subsequently committed suicide also showed complicity of the accused in the crime. The Bombay High Court held that conviction of the accused under sections 364-A and 201 was proper. The accused bore a grudge against the victim’s father and the crime was committed in a premeditated manner showing complete depravity and perversity of mind. This was a rarest of rare case and thus imposition of death sentence is proper. In Îm Prakash Srivastav v.
State, the Delhi High Court held that the plea that provision of section 364-A cannot be invoked since demand for ransom was made to the complainant victim himself and not to any other person is not tenable. In Vinod v. State of Haryana a minor boy was kidnapped for ransom. During trial seized currency notes from the accused were produced. The Supreme Court held that the offence under section 364-A was proved. No interference in his sentence of imprisonment for life was required as stringent punishment was provided for by the legislature in its wisdom. In P. Liaquat Ali Khan v.
State of Andhra Pradesh, the accused was caught while picking up a bag containing ransom money. On disclosure made by him the kidnapped child was recovered. The Supreme Court held him guilty under section 364-A of the Code.
The offence under this section is cognizable and non-bailable, and is triable by court of session.