Section 417 says: Whoever cheats shall be punished with imprisonment ... for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or both.
Now the current Congress-NCP Government in Maharashtra came to power last October at least partly on the back of an election promise to "legalise all slums that have come up till year 2000." (See, for example, this report). This was in clear contrast to the Shiv Sena-BJP election promise, which was that they would not extend the cut-off date past 1995.
That is, by subscribing to this party promise, the various Congress and NCP MLAs who won election made this commitment to their voters: that all slums built before 2000 would be allowed to stay intact.
In office, the MLAs threw away that commitment. The Government they formed has embarked on the largest spate of slum demolitions this city has ever seen, maintaining that the earlier cut-off date, 1995, applies. (See, for example, this report).
(And as an aside, note in that report the sentence that says: "Demolitions against rich defaulters, however, won't be as easy. [Municipal Commissioner] Joseph acknowledged that in many cases, action can only be taken after serving notice." Note it, and wonder why action is in fact taken against other "defaulters" -- slum dwellers -- without serving notice. End of aside).
Let's suppose we locate a slum dweller, call him Satyajit, who:
- moved into his home after 1995, but before 2000; and
- voted in last October's Maharashtra's election; and
- would have ordinarily voted for the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance; but
- was afraid that they would destroy his home; and so
- voted for the Congress-NCP this time because of their promise to legalise his slum home; and
- has now watched his slum home disappear under a Municipal bulldozer's maw.
Leave aside for a few minutes whatever views you have on slum demolitions. Consider now Satyajit, on the one hand, and Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his Government of Maharashtra, on the other.
Clearly, Deshmukh and his coalition's election promise intentionally induced Satyajit to do something which he would not have done without that promise: he voted for the Congress-NCP instead of the Sena-BJP. Just as clearly, this induced act of Satyajit's has caused damage to his property (let alone his body or mind). (All quotes in this para, as you have guessed, from Section 415 of the IPC).
Question: are Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his Maharashtra Government colleagues therefore "cheats" by the definition of Section 415?
Question: if a court decides that they are, will these cheats then be prosecuted under Section 417, leading to up to a year in prison or fine or both?