CHEATING is defined in Section 415 of the Indian Penal Code which provides as under:-
“415. 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.”
While the first part of the definition relates to property, the second part need not necessarily relate to property. The second part is reproduced below:-
“………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”.”
This part speaks of intentional deception which must be intended not only to induce the person deceived to do or omit to do something but also to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property. The intentional deception presupposes the existence of a dominant motive of the person making the inducement. Such inducement should have led the person deceived or induced to do or omit to do anything which he would not have done or omitted to do if he were not deceived.
The further requirement is that such act or omission should have caused damage or harm to body, mind, reputation or property. As mentioned above, Section 415 has two parts. While in the first part, the person must “dishonestly” or “fraudulently” induce the complainant to deliver any property; in the second part, the person should intentionally induce the complainant to do or omit to do a thing.
That is to say, in the first part, inducement must be dishonest or fraudulent. In the second part, the inducement should be intentional.
As observed by Supreme Court in Jaswantrai Manilal Akhaney vs. State of Bombay, AIR 1956 SC 575, a guilty intention is an essential ingredient of the offence of cheating. In order, therefore, to secure conviction of a person for the offence of cheating, “mens rea” on the part of that person, must be established.
It was also observed in Mahadeo Prasad vs. State of West Bengal, AIR 1954 SC 724, that in order to constitute the offence of cheating, the intention to deceive should be in existence at the time when the inducement was offered. Thus, so far as second part of Section 415 is concerned, “property”, at no stage, is involved. Here it is the doing of an act or omission to do an act by the complainant, as a result of intentional inducement by the accused, which is material.
Such inducement should result in the doing of an act or omission to do an act as a result of which the person concerned should have suffered or was likely to suffer damage or harm in body, mind, reputation or property.
In an old decision of the Allahabad High Court in Empress v. Sheoram and another, (1882) 2 AWN 237, it was held by Mahmood, J.:-
“That to palm off a young woman as belonging to a caste different to the one to which she really belongs, with the object of obtaining money, amounts to the offence of cheating by personation as defined in s.416 of the Indian Penal Code, which must be read in the light of the preceding, s.415.”
G.V. Rao vs L.H.V. Prasad, 2000