Indian Penal Code
The objective of this Act is to provide a general penal code for India. Though not the initial objective, the Act does not repeal the penal laws which were in force in the form of energy at the time of coming into force in India. This was done because the Code does not contain all the offences and it was possible that some offences might have still been left out of the Code, which were not intended to be exempted from penal consequences. Though this Code consolidates the whole of the law on the subject and is exhaustive on the matters in respect of which it declares the law, many more penal statutes governing various offences have been created in addition to the code.
|The Indian Penal Code, 1860|
|Imperial Legislative Council|
|Citation||Act No. 45 of 1860|
|Enacted by||Imperial Legislative Council|
|Enacted||6 October 1860|
|Assented to||6 October 1860|
|Commenced||1 January 1862|
|Committee report||First Law Commission|
|Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973|
The Indian Penal Code of 1860, sub-divided into 23 chapters, comprises 511 sections. The Code starts with an introduction, provides explanations and exceptions used in it, and covers a wide range of offences. The Outline is presented in the following table:
|Chapter||Sections covered||Classification of offences|
|Chapter I||Sections 1 to 5||Introduction|
|Chapter II||Sections 6 to 52||General Explanations|
|Chapter III||Sections 53 to 75||Of Punishments|
|Chapter IV||Sections 76 to 106||General Exceptions
of the Right of Private Defence (Sections 96 to 106)
|Chapter V||Sections 107 to 120||Of Abetment|
|Chapter VA||Sections 120A to 120B||Criminal Conspiracy|
|Chapter VI||Sections 121 to 130||Of Offences against the State|
|Chapter VII||Sections 131 to 140||Of Offences relating to the Army, Navy and Air Force|
|Chapter VIII||Sections 141 to 160||Of Offences against the Public Tranquillity|
|Chapter IX||Sections 161 to 171||Of Offences by or relating to Public Servants|
|Chapter IXA||Sections 171A to 171I||Of Offences Relating to Elections|
|Chapter X||Sections 172 to 190||Of Contempts of Lawful Authority of Public Servants|
|Chapter XI||Sections 191 to 229||Of False Evidence and Offences against Public Justice|
|Chapter XII||Sections 230 to 263||Of Offences relating to coin and Government Stamps|
|Chapter XIII||Sections 264 to 267||Of Offences relating to Weight and Measures|
|Chapter XIV||Sections 268 to 294||Of Offences affecting the Public Health, Safety, Convenience, Decency and Morals.|
|Chapter XV||Sections 295 to 298||Of Offences relating to Religion|
|Chapter XVI||Sections 299 to 377||Of Offences affecting the Human Body.
|Chapter XVII||Sections 378 to 462||Of Offences Against Property
|Chapter XVIII||Section 463 to 489 -E||Offences relating to Documents and Property Marks
|Chapter XIX||Sections 490 to 492||Of the Criminal Breach of Contracts of Service|
|Chapter XX||Sections 493 to 498||Of Offences related to marriage|
|Chapter XXA||Sections 498A||Of Cruelty by Husband or Relatives of Husband|
|Chapter XXI||Sections 499 to 502||Of Defamation|
|Chapter XXII||Sections 503 to 510||Of Criminal intimidation, Insult and Annoyance|
|Chapter XXIII||Section 511||Of Attempts to Commit Offences|
A detailed list of all IPC laws which include above is here.
Various sections of the Indian Penal Code are controversial, often garnering calls for their repeal, and for them to be declared unconstitutional.
Unnatural Offences (Sodomy) - Section 377Edit
Whoever, voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment of life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.
- Section 377 The Delhi High Court on 2 July 2009 gave a liberal interpretation to this section and laid down that this section can not be used to punish an act of consensual sexual intercourse between two same sex individuals.
- On 11 December 2013, Supreme Court of India over-ruled the judgment given by Delhi High court in 2009 and clarified that "Section 377, which holds same-sex relations unnatural, does not suffer from unconstitutionality". The Bench said: "We hold that Section 377 does not suffer from ... unconstitutionality and the declaration made by the Division Bench of the High Court is legally unsustainable." It, however, said: "Notwithstanding this verdict, the competent legislature shall be free to consider the desirability and propriety of deleting Section 377 from the statute book or amend it as per the suggestion made by Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati."
- On 8 January 2018, the Supreme Court agreed to reconsider its 2013 decision and after much deliberation agreed to decriminalise the parts of Section 377 that criminalised same sex relations on 6 September 2018. The judgement of Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation is overruled.
- On 6 September 2018, the Court ruled unanimously in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India that Section 377 was unconstitutional "in so far as it criminalises consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex". The judgment was given by a five judges bench comprising the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justices R. F. Nariman, D. Y. Chandrachud, A. M. Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra.
The Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code deals with unsuccessful suicides, whereby attempting to commit suicide is punishable with an imprisonment up to one year. Considering long-standing demand and recommendations of the Law Commission of India, which has repeatedly endorsed the repeal of this section, the Government of India in December 2014 decided to decriminalise attempts to commit suicide by dropping Section 309 of the IPC from the statute book. In February 2015, the Legislative Department of the Ministry of Law and Justice was asked by the Government to prepare a draft Amendment Bill in this regard.
In August 2015 ruling, Rajasthan High Court made the Jain practice of undertaking voluntary death by fasting at the end of a person's life, known as Santhara, punishable under sections 306 and 309 of the IPC. This led to some controversy, with some sections of the Jain community urging the Prime Minister to move the Supreme Court against the order. On 31 August 2015, the Supreme Court admitted the petition by Akhil Bharat Varshiya Digambar Jain Parishad and granted leave. It stayed the decision of the High Court and lifted the ban on the practice.
In 2017 the new Mental Healthcare Act of India was signed. Section 115(1) of the act effectively decriminalised suicide, saying "any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed .. to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code."
Adultery - Section 497Edit
The Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code has been criticised on the one hand for allegedly treating woman as the private property of her husband, and on the other hand for giving women complete protection against punishment for adultery. This section was unanimously struck down on 27 September 2018 by a five judge bench of the Supreme Court in case of Joseph Shine v. Union of India as being unconstitutional and demeaning to the dignity of women. Adultery continues to be a ground for seeking divorce in a Civil Court, but is no longer a criminal offence in India.
In 2020 alone, two review petitions were submitted at the Supreme Court challenging the decriminalization of adultery. However, neither of them could stand, as there was no substantial ground for appeal.
Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (war against the Government of India), 132 (mutiny), 194 (false evidence to procure conviction for a capital offence), 302, 303 (murder), 305 (abetting suicide), 364A (kidnapping for ransom), 396 (banditry with murder), 376A (rape) have death penalty as punishment. There is ongoing debate for abolishing capital punishment.
Criminal justice reformsEdit
In 2003, the Malimath Committee submitted its report recommending several far-reaching penal reforms including separation of investigation and prosecution (similar to the CPS in the UK) to streamline criminal justice system. The essence of the report was a perceived need for shift from an adversarial to an inquisitorial criminal justice system, based on the Continental European systems.
|S. No.||Short title of amending legislation||No.||Year|
|1||The Repealing Act, 1870||14||1870|
|2||The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1870||27||1870|
|3||The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1872||19||1872|
|4||The Indian Oaths Act, 1873||10||1873|
|5||The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1882||8||1882|
|6||The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1882||10||1882|
|7||The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1886||10||1886|
|8||The Indian Marine Act, 1887||14||1887|
|9||The Metal Tokens Act, 1889||1||1889|
|10||The Indian Merchandise Marks Act, 1889||4||1889|
|11||The Cantonments Act, 1889||13||1889|
|12||The Indian Railways Act, 1890||9||1890|
|13||The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1891||10||1891|
|14||The Amending Act, 1891||12||1891|
|15||The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1894||3||1894|
|16||The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1895||3||1895|
|17||The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1896||6||1896|
|18||The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1898||4||1898|
|19||The Currency-Notes Forgery Act, 1899||12||1899|
|20||The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1910||3||1910|
|21||The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1913||8||1913|
|22||The Indian Elections Offences and Inquiries Act, 1920||39||1920|
|23||The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1921||16||1921|
|24||The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1923||20||1923|
|25||The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1924||5||1924|
|26||The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1924||18||1924|
|27||The Workmen's Breach of Contract (Repealing) Act, 1925||3||1925|
|29||The Obscene Publications Act, 1925||8||1925|
|29||The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1925||29||1925|
|30||The Repealing and Amending Act, 1927||10||1927|
|31||The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1927||25||1927|
|32||The Repealing and Amending Act, 1930||8||1930|
|33||The Indian Air Force Act, 1932||14||1932|
|34||The Amending Act, 1934||35||1934|
|35||The Government of India (Adaptation of Indian Laws) Order, 1937||N/A||1937|
|36||The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1939||22||1939|
|37||The Offences on Ships and Aircraft Act, 1940||4||1940|
|38||The Indian Merchandise Marks (Amendment) Act, 1941||2||1941|
|39||The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1942||8||1942|
|40||The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1943||6||1943|
|41||The Indian Independence (Adaptation of Central Acts and Ordinances) Order, 1948||N/A||1948|
|42||The Criminal Law (Removal of Racial Discriminations) Act, 1949||17||1949|
|43||The Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1949||42||1949|
|44||The Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950||N/A||1950|
|45||The Repealing and Amending Act, 1950||35||1950|
|46||The Part B States (Laws) Act, 1951||3||1951|
|47||The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1952||46||1952|
|48||The Repealing and Amending Act, 1952||48||1952|
|49||The Repealing and Amending Act, 1953||42||1953|
|50||The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1955||26||1955|
|51||The Adaptation of Laws (No.2) Order, 1956||N/A||1956|
|52||The Repealing and Amending Act, 1957||36||1957|
|53||The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1958||2||1958|
|54||The Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958||43||1958|
|55||The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1959||52||1959|
|56||The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1961||41||1961|
|57||The Anti-Corruption Laws (Amendment) Act, 1964||40||1964|
|58||The Criminal and Election Laws Amendment Act, 1969||35||1969|
|59||The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1969||36||1969|
|60||The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1972||31||1972|
|61||The Employees' Provident Funds and Family Pension Fund (Amendment) Act, 1973||40||1973|
|62||The Employees' State Insurance (Amendment) Act, 1975||38||1975|
|63||The Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 1975||40||1975|
|64||The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983||43||1983|
|65||The Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983||46||1983|
|66||The Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986||43||1986|
|67||The Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act, 1988||33||1988|
|68||The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988||49||1988|
|69||The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1993||42||1993|
|70||The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1995||24||1995|
|71||The Information Technology Act, 2000||21||2000|
|72||The Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2003||24||2003|
|73||The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005||25||2005|
|74||The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005||2||2006|
|75||The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008||10||2009|
|76||The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013||13||2013|
|77||The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018||2018|
The Code is universally acknowledged as a cogently drafted code, ahead of its time. It has substantially survived for over 150 years in several jurisdictions without major amendments. Nicholas Phillips, Justice of Supreme Court of United Kingdom applauded the efficacy and relevance of IPC while commemorating 150 years of IPC. Modern crimes involving technology unheard of during Macaulay's time fit easily within the Code mainly because of the broadness of the Code's drafting.
Some references to specific sections (called dafā/dafa'a in Hindi-Urdu, دفعہ or दफ़ा/दफ़आ) of the IPC have entered popular speech in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. For instance, con men are referred to as 420s (chaar-sau-bees in Hindi-Urdu) after Section 420 which covers cheating. Similarly, specific reference to section 302 ("tazīrāt-e-Hind dafā tīn-sau-do ke tehet sazā-e-maut", "punishment of death under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code"), which covers the death penalty, have become part of common knowledge in the region due to repeated mentions of it in Bollywood movies and regional pulp literature. Dafa 302 was also the name of a Bollywood movie released in 1975. Similarly, Shree 420 was the name of a 1955 Bollywood movie starring Raj Kapoor. and Chachi 420 was a Bollywood movie released in 1997 starring Kamal Haasan.
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- Henry Scholberg (1992), The return of the Raj: a novel, NorthStar Publications, 1992,
... People were saying, 'Twenty plus Four equals Char Sau Bees.' Char Sou Bees is 420 which is the number of the law that has to do with counterfeiting ...
- Star Plus, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge – Jokes Book, Popular Prakashan, ISBN 978-81-7991-343-7,
... Tazeerat-e-hind, dafa 302 ke tahat, mujrim ko maut ki saza sunai jaati hai ...
- Alok Tomar; Monisha Shah; Jonathan Lynn (2001), Ji Mantriji: The diaries of Shri Suryaprakash Singh, Penguin Books in association with BBC Worldwide, 2001, ISBN 978-0-14-302767-6,
... we'd have the death penalty back tomorrow. Dafa 302, taaziraat-e-Hind ... to be hung by the neck until death ...
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... Badti Ka Naam Dadhi ( 1975), Chhoti Si Baat ( 1975), Dafa 302 ( 1 975), Chori Mera Kaam ( 1975), Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka (1975) ...
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