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Cheating Requires Inducement, Merely Receiving Money from the Victim Insufficient: SC Quashes Criminal Proceedings


In a significant judgment that clarifies the legal boundaries of criminal liability in cases of alleged cheating, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (‘SC’) in, A. M. Mohan v. State[i], recently addressed the nuanced distinction between mere financial transactions and the intentional inducement necessary to establish cheating under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). This ruling not only demarcates the elements required for constituting the offence of cheating but also comments on the broader issue of criminalizing civil disputes, an increasingly common legal and ethical concern.


The genesis of the case involved financial transactions between the complainant and other accused parties. The complainant transferred Rs. 20,00,000/- to A.M. Mohan, who upon receiving such amount executed a sale deed of a property in favour of another accused person, and such accused person along with another induced and cheated the complainant. Consequent to this, the complainant lodged a first information report (‘FIR’) against the three persons alleging cheating (ss. 415, 420 of the IPC) with common intention (s. 34 of IPC). Regarding Mohan, besides the fact of having received the money, there was no allegation of any act or deed committed by him in the FIR or the chargesheet that later came to be filed.

The accused approached the High Court seeking quashing of the FIR. The Madras High Court held that the FIR discloses prima facie commission of cheating and hence refused to interfere with the investigation. As such, the accused approached the SC.


The SC concluded that the primary activities and fraudulent inducements were orchestrated by the other accused persons. It observed that Mohan’s involvement was restricted to receiving funds from the complainant and transferring property to the other accused, who then executed further agreements. The SC found that the allegations in the FIR and chargesheet, even if accepted in their entirety, did not establish the requisite elements of cheating as per s. 415 of the IPC, specifically the intentional inducement to deceive (which this court held was a sine qua non for attracting the offence of cheating), which is essential to substantiate charges under s. 420 IPC.

As an obiter, the SC also reprimanded the growing practice of converting civil disputes into criminal cases. It also turned down the argument of the State that now since the chargesheet has been filed, quashing of the FIR, and hence the present petition, would be untenable. For this, the SC held that it would be a travesty of justice if it is held that proceedings initiated against a person can be interfered with at the stage of FIR but not if it has advanced and a chargesheet has been filed.

Our Analysis

This decision underscores the essential legal principles governing the application of ss. 415 and 420 of the IPC, focusing on the necessity of establishing an intentional inducement to deceive, leading to a wrongful gain or wrongful loss as fundamental to charges of cheating.

It is often seen in charges related to cheating and other offences relating to property that all parties who may have participated in the transaction(s) are named as accused – either as having common intention (under s. 34 of IPC) or having criminally conspired to commit the offence (under s. 120-B of IPC). While the complainant may not be privy to the relationships between these various parties and hence out of caution he may suspect and name all of them in the FIR, the investigation is bound to discover the truth. For charging an accused with the offence of cheating, thus, it would be imperative to identify the person(s) who intentionally induced the victim in order to deceive him.

While the benefit test continues to be the guiding light to find the intention behind committing a crime, merely receiving the benefit may not always incriminate a person. This ruling reinforces the jurisprudential safeguards (in fact, this ruling simply reiterates established law and applies it swiftly to the facts of the case) intended to prevent the criminal justice system from being leveraged as a tool for coercion in commercial disputes, ensuring that criminal liability is attributed on the basis of clear, unequivocal evidence of criminal intent and actions, rather than peripheral involvement or ancillary financial transactions.

End Note

[i] 2024 SCC OnLine SC 339

Authored by Sanyam Aggarwal, Advocate at Metalegal Advocates. The views expressed are personal and do not constitute legal opinion.


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