India: Law of Cheating needs amendment.

Law against cheating in India

Burden of proof in trial of cheating:

Indian Penal Code, 1860, Section 415 & 420.

It is well known that Legislature enacts laws, to arrest unsocial or undesirable activities, which cause harm to the society at large, and prescribes deterrent punishments to prevent such activities taking place. Judicial notice can be taken of the fact that there is a sea change in the human values and that human values etc. of 21st century are different from those prevailing in the 19th century. History tells us the people in this country, generally, were honest and law abiding during 1860 i.e. 19th century when IPC came into force on 6.10.1860, when with one rupee a person could purchase more than one bag of rice and some gold also. Now a bag of rice costs more than Rs.1,000/-Salaries of many government servants and officers at that time were in two figures. Now even a class four employee earns four figure salary. Obviously keeping in view the said fact recent enactment like Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,1985 and Information Technology Act,2000 prescribe fine in lakhs of rupees for the offences committed under those enactments. But the fine prescribed in IPC way back in 1860, which at that time could be a deterrent, remained unchanged even till now i.e. more than 140 years after IPC was enacted.

Burden of proof in cheating cases should be shifted to the accused and the amount of fine must be suitably increased:

In the present day situation the meager fine prescribed in several Sections of I.P.C. can, by no stretch of imagination, be said to be a deterrent to prevent such offences. Since Greed to become rich over night, by any means, has become the order of the day, and taking notice of the fact that several individuals and bogus institutions, by promising rich returns, are luring innocent people into investing their hard earned money with them and are vanishing overnight, Legislature, in an attempt to prevent such operations, made some laws, obviously because such acts may not fall under ‘cheating’ as defined in Section 415 I.P.C. ‘Cheating’ as understood by a common man is different from ‘cheating’ as defined by Section 415 IPC, because for ‘cheating’ to be an offence under IPC, intention to cheat even at the time of entering into the transaction has to be established. In the present day situation when honesty became a very rare commodity, and since nobody would make apparent his intention to cheat even at the time of inception, and since persons resort to cheating only after creating confidence about his being honest in the mind of the man he intends to cheat, in my considered opinion it may be in the fitness of things, and to suit the present day need, to cast the burden to establish that he had no intention to cheat on the accused, by making suitable amendment to Section 415 IPC. It is for the concerned authorities to take a decision.

per JUSTICE C.Y.SOMAYAJULU  in Vishal Paper Tech India Ltd. v. State of Andhra Pradesh , (AP)