Report No. 156
12.64. Under this clause the words "may be punished with imprisonment for life" occurring in sections 388 and 389 are sought to be substituted with imprisonment of lesser periods. Sections 388 and 389 deal with specific offences of extortion by threat or accusation or putting a person in fear in order to commit extortion.
Under section 388 the threat or accusation contemplated is one of putting any person in fear or such an accusation of having committed or attempted to commit any offence punishable with death etc. and the punishment for such extortion is imprisonment upto 10 years, and if the accusation is with reference to an offence under section 377 then the punishment is imprisonment for life.
Likewise, under section 389 where in order to commit extortion puts a person in fear of accusation of offences mentioned therein then he would be punishable with a sentence extendable to 10 years and if the accusation is with reference to the offence under section 377 "may be punished with imprisonment for life". A bare perusal of these sections would show that sentences are severe and disproportionate and perhaps violate the doctrine of proportionality. Therefore, the substitution of the words "may be punished with imprisonment for life" with "lesser periods of sentence" is called for.