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Overview of The Indian Penal Code
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Overview of The Indian Penal Code

The Indian Penal Code (IPC) is the criminal code drafted in 1860. The code was written on the recommendation of First law commission under the Chairmanship of Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1834. The First final draft was submitted before the Governor-General of India in Council in 1837, but it was revised subsequently. After completing the drafting in the year 1850, it was presented to the Legislative Council. In 1860 finally, the draft of IPC became law and came into operation. The aim of IPC is to provide a general penal code for India. It includes 511 sections across 23 chapters, providing the list of crimes with their definitions and punishments. It has been amended several times. The jurisdiction of IPC extends to the whole of India. The objective of IPC is to lay what is right and wrong and to punish criminals for their wrongdoings.

In criminal law, the intention of committing crime plays a huge role to decide the liability of offence.

There are five stages of committing the crime;

  1. Motive
  2. Intention
  3. Preparation
  4. Attempt
  5. Commission

When an individual goes beyond the stage of preparation and attempts to do illegal acts, the liability in crime arises.

IPC starts with an introduction and gives explanations and exceptions.

Classification of crimes under the (IPC):

  1. Crime against the body – Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder, Murder, kidnapping, Rape etc.
  2. Crimes against property – Dacoity, Theft, etc.
  3. Crimes against public order – Riots
  4. Counterfeiting and Cheating 
  5. Crimes against women – Dowry Death, Rape, cruelty by husband and relatives, molestation, sexual harassment 
  6. Crimes against children – Kidnapping, and abduction of children, abetment to suicide, infanticide, selling and buying of girls for prostitution.

Controversial Sections: Various section of IPC are controversial till date; they are challenged in the court claiming that the sections are against the Indian Constitution. There is a demand to delete the sections completely or to amend and rectify them. Some of the Controversial sections are as follows:

  1. Unnatural Offences (Section 377 - now repealed)
  2. Attempt to Commit Suicide (Section 309)
  3. Death penalty (Capital Punishment)

The different types of crime cover the punishments according to the severity of the committed offence. 

The Indian Penal Code is structured as follows:

  1. Definitions of various offences
  2. Punishment for the offences
  3. General Exceptions
  4. Sections relating to Criminal Conspiracy
  5. Sections explaining offences against the State, Army, Navy and Air Force, related to Public Servant, relating to religion, property, etc.
  6. It ends with the attempts of committing offences.

In addition to this, there are other special legislatures such as the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Information Technology Act,  Indecent Representation of Women Act, the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act, etc. which also enable classification and punishment of criminal acts.

The Indian Penal Code is only concerned with substantive criminal law and not with procedural criminal law like the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.


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