Indian Penal Code ,1860 – A General introduction and background

The Indian Penal Code,1860 – A General Introduction and Background


1.The Indian Penal Code, 1860 is the substantive law of crimes. It defines acts which Constitute an offence and lays down punishment for the same. It lays down certain Principles of criminal law. The procedural law through which the Indian Penal Code is Implemented is the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Indian Penal Code consists of 23 Chapters and more than 511 sections.

2. It is a wrong committed by an individual in a society. It arises first when a state is Organized, people set up rules, the breaking of which is an act called crime. Crime being A relative conception is an act defined by State as a crime. The concept of crime Changes from time to time and as per the society.

3. In India, the base of the crime and punitive provision has been laid down in Indian Penal Code, 1860. In this Code the definition of crime has not been attempted or defined but according to its section 40 the word ‘Offence’ denotes a thing made punishable by the Code.

4. The Indian Penal Code was passed in the year 1860 but it came into force on 1st January 1862, and it applies to the whole of India. The first law commission was appointed in 1834 when lord Macaulay , the law minister as it’s chairman , Sarvashri MacLeod, Anderson and Millet were the other members of the Commission.


Ordinarily, laws made by a country are applicable within its own boundaries because a Country cannot have a legal machinery to enforce its laws in other sovereign countries. Countries, however, also make laws that apply to territories outside of their own country. This is called the extra-territorial jurisdiction. Intra-territorial jurisdiction: Where a crime under any provision of IPC is committed within the territory of India the IPC applies and the courts can try and punish irrespective of the fact that the person who had committed the crime is an Indian national or foreigner. This is called ‘intra-territorial jurisdiction’ because the submission to the jurisdiction of the court is by virtue of the crime being committed within the Indian territory.

Section 2 of the Code deals with intra-territorial jurisdiction of the courts. The section declares the jurisdictional scope of operation of the IPC to offences committed within India. The emphasis on ‘every person’ makes it very clear that in terms of considering the guilt for any act or omission, the law shall be applied equally without any discrimination on the ground caste, creed, nationality, rank, status or privilege. The Code applies to any offence Committed:

1. Within the territory of India as defined in Article 1 of Constitution of India.
2. Within the territorial waters of India.
3. On any ship or aircraft either owned by India or registered in India.


Once India was uncivilized country , so there was no criminal law in County like India . Every man was liable to be attacked in his person or property at any time by anyone. “ A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, a life for a life” was the moto of criminal justice . As we became advanced , the injured person agreed to accept compensation , instead of killing his adversary. Subsequently , a sliding scale came existence for satisfying ordinary offences.

The history of criminal law in India is divided into three parts:-

  • Ancient Hindu criminal law
  • Mohammedan criminal law
  • English Criminal law

Objective of Indian Penal Code

The main objective of this Act is to lay down a general penal code for the country. It describes the punishment for committing wrongs . In criminal law , the “intension” of committing the crime plays the huge role in deciding the liability of the offense.
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 covering various offences have been created in addition to this code.

Importance of Indian Penal Code

  • Indian Penal Code is a very important set of regulation which is very vital for the system to be operated in a proper manner.
  • IPC is a main criminal code of India.
  • There are different types of offences that are made under this law.
  • The Indian Penal Code includes all the relevant criminal offences dealing with offences against the state, offences for public, offences for armed forces, kidnapping , murder and rape .
  • It deals with the offence related to religion, offences against property it is an important section for offences for marriage, quality from husband or relatives , defamation .


Various sections of the Indian Penal Code are controversial. They have been challenged in courts claiming that they are against the Constitution of India. Also there is demand for abolition of some controversial IPC section is completely or partially.


The Indian Penal Code, first it gave the definition of offences and then the punishment for the offence is described. Apart from this , Indian Penal Code has some special legislation such as the Information Technology Act, Indecent Representation of Women Act, the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substance Act, etc. Which also enable classification and punishment of criminal acts.

The definition under Indian Penal Code just only give a basic idea that what kind of offence is. It does not tell us what we should do if someone has stolen our property, or whom should we seek justice ? So , the Indian Penal Code is substantive criminal law and not with procedural criminal law .

Author: Kajal Bind,
Prayag Vidhi Mahavidyalaya (Allahabad State University)2nd year /BA.LLB year

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