Cheating under Indian Penal Code


This post has been written by Shivangi Khattar pursuing 2nd Year BBA LLB from JIMS School of Law, IP University 


Cheating is considered as an offence against the property. The basic element for the commission of such offence is the dishonest intention of the accused person, which the code describes as the intention of causing “wrongful gain “to one person or “wrongful loss” to another. However, the manner in which the dishonesty is exercised, differs from case to case. Therefore, in order to make the accused liable for committing the offence of cheating, the essentials that are provided under the Indian Penal Code must be proved.


Section 415 of Indian Penal Code, lays down that “ 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 the body, mind, reputation or property is said to “ cheat”.

According to this section, cheating can be committed in three ways:

  1. By fraudulently deceiving and inducing the person so deceived to deliver any property, or to consent to the retention of any property by any person.
  2. By dishonestly inducing the person to deliver any property or to give consent to the retention of any property.
  3. By intentionally inducing the person deceived to do or to omit to do anything which he would not have done, if he was not so deceived and such act of him caused or was likely to cause any damage, or harm in body, mind reputation or property.


The following are the ingredients required for the offence of cheating:

  1. Deception of any person.
  2. Fraudulent or dishonestly inducing any person.
  3. Delivery of any property to any person.

This section covers only simple cases of cheating. When there is delivery of any property or there is any destruction of any valuable security, then Section 420 of Indian Penal Code will be attracted.

A passport is a document which, by its very nature and purpose is a political document for the benefit of its holder. It recognizes him as a citizen of the country granting it and is in the nature of the request to order another country to allow his free passage there. There can be therefore no doubt that a passport is a document of importance for travel abroad and is of considerable value to its holder. Thus, looking to the importance and characteristics of the passport it can be said that it is a property within the meaning of Section 415 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code[1].

[1] Abhayananda Mishra v State of Bihar, A.I.R 1961 SC 1968: (1962) 2 SCR 241



The offence of cheating by personation is provided under Section 416 of Indian Penal Code. According to this section the offence 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 another person.

Personation by itself is no offence but when a person fraudulently and dishonestly does a fraudulent act and represents as if he is himself that person, then this section will be applied[1] and the punishment for the same is provided under Section 417 of Indian Penal Code.

This section was applied in R. Matameshwara Rao, where the accused used the railway ticket issued in the name of a different person by pretending to be that person. So, the court held the accused liable for the offence of cheating by personation.


Section 418 of Indian Penal Code, prescribes punishment for cheating by a person standing in a fiduciary capacity to the person cheated. Such relationship exists between a banker and a customer, the principal and an agent, guardian and the ward, director of a company and a shareholder[2], etc.

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The essential ingredients that are required to make the accused liable for committing the offence under this section are as follows: –

  1. The accused cheated a person whose interests he was under a legal obligation to protect or under a contract bound to protect.
  2. The accused knew that he was likely to cause wrongful loss to such person.

The offence is non – cognizable, bailable and compoundable with the permission of the court. Punishment for the same may extend to imprisonment for a period of three years, or fine, or both.


 Section 420 of Indian Penal Code, is applied in those cases of cheating which involves delivery of property or destruction of valuable security. This section is an aggravated form of cheating and provides enhanced punishment which may extend to seven years of imprisonment (simple or rigorous) and fine.

The offence of cheating is established when the following ingredients are proved, namely:

  1. Representation made by the accused was false.
  2. Accused knew that the representation was false at the very time when he made it.
  3. The accused made the false representation with the dishonest intention of deceiving the person to whom it was made.
  4. 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.

Dishonest Intention is a well settled principle of law that to hold a person guilty of the offence of cheating, it is to be shown that the accused person had a dishonest intention at the time of making a promise. Such a dishonest intention cannot be inferred from the mere fact that he could not subsequently fulfill the promise. The basic ingredient of the offence under Section 420 of Indian Penal Code would be cheating with the intention to cheat from the very inception.

For the offence of cheating there must be a deception which should precede the fraudulent or dishonest inducement and it must be established that the intention of the accused was dishonest at the time of making the promise.

This section was applied in case of Manoranjan Haldar V Nechfab Engineering Institutions, where the accused placed an order with the complainant for supply of articles valued at Rs. 64,500. He paid to the complainant Rs.30,000 and again Rs.10,000 by cheque which were honored, but issued a cheque for the balanced amount which was dishonored. The accused, however, apologized for this and assured the complainant that in future cheques would be honored. Ultimately, he refused to make further payments.

The court held, it is an established principle of law that a dishonest intention at the time of the initial transaction must be present in order to make a person liable under this Section. Therefore, the subsequent conduct of the accused cannot make the transaction amount to cheating under Section 420, Indian Penal Code.


The Indian Penal code provides punishment for cheating to the person whoever deceives any person, fraudulently or dishonestly the person so deceived to deliver any property to any person, or make a person to give consent for retaining any property, or intentionally induces any person so deceived to do or omit to do anything which he would not do if he was not deceived and the act or omission will cause damage or harm to that  person in body, mind, reputation or property.

[1] Baboo Khan v State of Uttar Pradesh, A.I.R 1961 All 639

[2] Q.E v Moss, (1894) ILR 16 All 88

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