Frequently, one person will threaten to ruin the other’s reputation, blackmail them, or defame them in order to torment them. In India, it is illegal to engage in either blackmail or harassment. While unlawful and unwelcoming activities are the source of harassment, blackmailing is the use of threats as a kind of compulsion to divulge or disseminate false information about an individual.

Blackmailing involves-

*Threat to reveal or publicise false information about an individual or true and confidential information.

*Information that lands the individual in false criminal prosecution

*Any threat pertaining to physical, mental, or emotional harm

*Usually done to meet demands of the offender such as personal gain, vengeance, power, position, money, property, etc.

Blackmailing is a serious offence and provision under section 384 of Indian Penal Code can be used to describe it. Blackmailing can also amount to criminal intimidation. Criminal intimidation has been well defined under the substantive provisions of Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.  Blackmailing can also be punished under section 384 of the Indian Penal Code which provides punishments for extortion.

What should one do if they find themselves the target of harassment and blackmail?

Make a grievance! Yes, please prepare a complaint and file it as soon as possible at the closest police station. This is the first thing you may do: file a formal complaint (FIR) with the local police station and serve the offender with a legal notice of the same. In addition to filing a complaint with the closest police station, if blackmail has occurred online or on social media, a complaint can also be made with the cyber cell.

A complaint of blackmailing can be filed online through the National Cyber Crime Portal under two heads, cybercrime against women and children and other cybercrimes.

The most effective way to file a complaint against blackmailing (online cases) is to reach out to a cybercrime cell where individuals who cannot pay costs or lack necessary information can still make a written complaint of the same. You have to provide your details such as name, contact number, and email address along with the act of blackmailing and details of the offender as known at that time.

If you are the one and unable to seek help from other authorities, you can visit the National Commission for Women to file a harassment or blackmailing complaint.

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