Important concepts of Indian Penal Code, 1860



A crime is any deed or omission that amounts to an offence and is sanctioned by the law. A crime is an illegal conduct that is against the law and is sanctioned by the government. The primary elements of a crime are:

Human Being

There can never be an accident, which would be the definition of a crime, where it just happens. Someone must commit the crime in order for it to be committed. Every time a crime is committed, it should be possible for the law to identify the offender and punish them. According to the Indian Penal Code, the crime committed by animals cannot be classified as a crime, but the owner would still be held accountable. However, Section 11 of the Indian Penal Code also specifies the following: The term “person” refers to any business, organisation, or group of people, whether or not they are corporations.

Mens Rea

Another component of a crime is Mens Rea, which translates from Latin as “guilty mind,” refers to a person’s intention to commit a crime or knowledge that their actions or inaction would lead to a criminal being committed. It is a need for numerous crimes. The Indian Penal Code of 1860’s Mens Rea section defines offences and outlines general responsibility requirements, exclusion criteria, and punishments for each offence. Legislators have not defined these offences using the common law notion of Mens Rea. However, they preferred to import it by utilising other phrases that denote the necessary evil intent or Mens Rea as a fundamental component of a specific offence .
In R v. Prince, the English court ruled that strict responsibility should apply to the other statute’s provisions, such as the believed age of an abductee being immaterial, and that the Mens Rea necessary for criminal liability should be required for the factors central to the wrongfulness of the act.

Mens Rea has two components: the first is the intent to commit the act, and the second is knowledge of the elements that render the act unlawful. Motive, recklessness, and negligence are other manifestations of Mens Rea .

Actus Reus

It is a term from Latin that refers to a criminal activity. It is frequently described as a criminal act that involved actively moving one’s body. This depicts physical activity that endangers someone else or causes property damage. In other words, some unlawful act or omission must occur as a result of guilty or wrongful intention. Actus Reus can be classified into two categories: commission and omission. The commission was an unlawful conduct that was brought about by a voluntary body movement. This denotes a physical act that endangers someone or something. Against human body comprises physical assault, murder, hurt, grievance, hurt, etc.; vs property includes theft, dacoit, extortion, etc.

In Maragatham Alias Lakshmi v. State, the Madras High Court ruled that an accused person has committed a sufficient Actus Reus to establish a charge of attempting to commit that crime if his actions prove his intent to conduct a specific, specific crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

In State of Maharashtra v. Mohd. Yakub S/O Abdul Hamid & Ors, the Supreme Court established a three-part test and came to the conclusion that for an Actus Reus to be considered an attempt, it had to be sufficiently close to the desired goal, which was the commission of the offence.


A crime must result in harm to a third party or to society as a whole as its fourth prerequisite. Any harm to a person’s body, mind, reputation, or property should be done unlawfully. The term “injury” is used under section 44 of the IPC to refer to any harm that has been wrongfully inflicted on a person’s body, mind, reputation, or property. As three parts of the IPC deal directly with the threat of injury, the threat of injury is also punishable under the law.

Territorial Jurisdiction

Offences committed inside the boundaries of India’s territorial jurisdiction are covered by Section 2 of the Penal Code. It speaks about crimes perpetrated by anyone. Every person was said to be subject to punishment in accordance with the code for every act or omission.

Exemption from Criminal prosecution

There are several exceptions to the general norm of criminal culpability, which are based on the principle of expediency, on convention, or on an agreement or understanding between nations. Section 2 of the Penal Law states that “any individual” is subject to punishment under the code for an offence. For example, the legislation grants high dignitaries, head of foreign governments, ambassadors, diplomatic agents, and consuls immunity from criminal prosecution.

Territorial Water Jurisdiction

Every State is acknowledged to have jurisdiction over the marine belt, often known as territorial waters, that surrounds its land borders.

Extra Territorial Jurisdiction

The Penal Code’s Sections 3 and 4 enable extraterritorial application. Therefore, even if an offence is committed outside of Indian territory, a person may still be held accountable under the penal law.
If a person is subject to Indian law and commits an offence outside of Indian territory, Section 3 grants the courts criminal jurisdiction to try the case.

Extention of code to extra jurisdiction offence

The provisions of this article also apply to any offence committed by: 1) Any Indian citizen outside of India.
2) Any individual on any ship or aircraft registered in India whenever it may be;
3) Anyone who commits an offence outside of India that is directed against an Indian computer resource.

Crime committed outside india extra – territorial Jurisdiction

The penal code’s section 4, clause (1) applies to crimes committed outside of India by Indian citizens, and section 4, clause (2) applies to crimes committed by anyone on a ship or aircraft with an Indian registry. The Information Technology (amendment) act, 2008 amended clause (3) to section 4 of the penal code with the intention of making offences targeting a computer resource located in India from abroad punishable under the Indian penal code.

Admirality Jurisdiction

According to Section 4 of Clause (2) of the Penal Code, the courts in India have admiralty jurisdiction, which entitles them to try offences committed on any ship or aircraft registered in India, wherever they may be.
Any person who commits a crime on board, whether they are an Indian citizen or a foreigner, is subject to the jurisdiction of Indian courts if the vessel is flying an Indian flag and is registered in India. It is important to emphasise the Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 1972.


Anyone who acts in a way that aims to provide someone else an unfair advantage or do them harm is said to be acting “dishonestly,” according to IPC Section 24. The IPC defines dishonestly as an intentional conduct that results in an unlawful gain or loss for another person, even though the word “dishonestly” alludes to deception. A person cannot acquire or lose money or property without intending to.
It is not essential to use deception. In this case, there must be a monetary gain or loss. Being innocent could result in dishonesty. Both innocence and deception are possible.


“A person is considered to accomplish a thing if he does that thing with aim to defraud but not otherwise,” states Section 25 of the IPC. However, a significant element of fraud is that it frequently involves deception and harm. There may not always be monetary or economic gain or loss in this scenario. Fraud and innocence cannot coexist. Fraud includes deception as a component.

Deterrent Theory

The retributive hypothesis contends that the punishment is meted out purely for self-interest. It suggests that taking revenge for wrong should be done without thinking about the consequences. Two categories can be used to further split this theory. Both specific and broad deterrent are applicable.

Punishment is designed with a specific deterrent in mind so that offenders can take note. This hypothesis thus has the potential to alter the offenders who are vulnerable to it. Furthermore, it is asserted that punishment improves criminal behaviour. This is done by developing fear that the punishment will be administered once more.

A universal deterrence, however, tries to prevent crime in the future. This is done by making each defendant an example. The residents are consequently terrified to

Reformative Theory

According to this approach, rehabilitating criminals and reintegrating them into society as law-abiding individuals are the main goals. The Gandhian maxim, “Hate the sin, not the person,” serves as the foundation for this.
In the case of juveniles, this approach proved somewhat effective. In order to help the criminal establish a new life after serving his sentence, some job or craftsmanship is required of him while he is incarcerated.
Using the reformative theory of punishment as an example: Ankit, a prisoner, has acquired pottery-making skills while inside. He created a pottery business after being released from prison, made a living at it, and lived a contented life.

Preventive theory

This theory’s principal objective is to deter crime. Criminals are kept away from society while they are imprisoned. According to this view, punishing offenders will stop them from committing the crime again or render them unable to do so. Paton is a proponent of the preventative theory.

Death, life in jail, forfeiture of property, and other forms of punishment are examples of the preventative theory of punishment.

Expiatory theory

According to proponents of this ideology, self-realization is the purpose of the punishment. After committing an offence, if the criminal acknowledges his guilt, he must be pardoned.

To put it another way, this approach is predicated on compensating the victim for the harm the accused is said to have inflicted. The perpetrators are forced to understand the hardships they have inflicted on the victim in this way.

The following is an illustration of the expiatory or compensating notion of punishment: Sukant, who harmed Bikash, was imprisoned and forced to work while also being forced to sell his produce.
Bikash is given the earnings as payment for the care he has received.

In India, there are two ways to put someone to death:


All death sentences in India are carried out via hanging. Godse was the first person to get the death sentence in India following the country’s independence in the Mahatma Gandhi case. The Indian Supreme Court suggested that the death penalty should be applied in extremely rare circumstances.


According to the wording of the 1950 Army Act, both hanging and shooting are recognised as permissible ways of death in the military court-martial system.

Mistake of fact

A factual error occurs when a person interprets a situation’s conditions incorrectly. As a result of the mistake, someone commits an illegal act (of failing to comprehend the truth). The error of fact is a defence when a false belief would disprove a mental state that, if true, would be a part of the offence. An inaccuracy in the facts may be evidence of the commission of the physical element of an offence. They were unable to establish the required mens rea as a result of their factual error, and as a result, they will be cleared of all charges for offences requiring mens rea.

Section 76 of the IPC was based on the well-known proverb ignorantia facti excusat, ignorantia legis neminem excusat. It implies that while ignorance of the law is a valid defence, ignorance of the truth is not. A factual error must relate to a key component of the alleged crime in order to qualify as an excuse. A mistake must be justifiable, acceptable, and factual rather than legal.

Act done by Judges – general exceptions

One cannot use factual inaccuracy as a defence if an illegal act has committed. Furthermore, no one may use this defence if the proper inquiry reveals the genuine circumstances. Error of fact is not accepted as a defence when a conduct is sanctioned by law without regard to the offender’s intentions.

An action that emerges from the ordinary application of judicial authority within a respectable and reasonable jurisdiction is referred to as a “judicial act.” Anything done while carrying out judicial duties is not considered to be unlawful according to the Indian Penal Code. The IPC’s Sections 77 and 78 give more insight into judicial activities as a general exception. Additionally, a quick summary of the topic is given below.

Judges are permitted to follow Section 77 of the IPC.

A judge who exercises any authority that they believe to be granted to them by law in good faith is not in violation of any laws.
Section 77 of the IPC provides protection for judges while they carry out their judicial duties. In accordance with this clause, a judge who commits an offence while acting impartially in carrying out any legal authority entrusted to him or in the good faith conviction that such authority has been granted by the law may invoke the defence made available by this section.
Act done in observance of a court’s decision or order is covered by Section 78 of the IPC.

Nothing that is carried out in accordance with, or justified by, a judgement or order of a Court of Justice is unlawful if it is done so long as the judgement or order is still in effect. This is true even if the court lacked the authority to issue the judgement or order in question, as long as the person carrying it out in good faith believes the court to have such authority .

M’Naghten’s Rule

The M’Naghten rule is a legal test for criminal insanity that is used to establish whether a person realised their acts were wrong when they committed the crime or not. Unless they can show that, at the time of the crime, they either did not know what they were doing or did not know that what they were doing was wrong, the M’Naghten test presume that all defendants are sane.

Daniel M’Naghten was the target of a case in England that gave rise to the M’Naghten rule. M’Naghten attempted to assassinate the prime minister of England in 1843, but instead killed Edward Drummond, the secretary to the prime minister. When M’Naghten was taken into custody, he was saying that there was a plot to have him killed. M’Naghten’s counsel contended during the trial that he was mad and incapable of understanding that his conduct were wrong on both a moral and legal level. The jury reached the same conclusion and found the defendant not guilty due to insanity. M’Naghten spent the remainder of his life in a mental hospital after being remanded.


1 . Ratanlal & Dhirajlal’s the Indian Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860)
2 . A Textbook on the Indian Penal Code
Textbook by K.D. Gaur .
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Author: Harsh Srivastava,
Second Year Law Student /The University of Petroleum & Energy Studies

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