Oct 28, 2017
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IPC (Indian penal code), 1860 the main penal code of India

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IPC (Indian Penal Code):

The Indian Penal Code (IPC) is the main criminal code of India. It is a comprehensive code intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law.  Furthermore, the code was drafted in 1860 on the recommendations of first law commission of India established in 1834. However, it did not apply automatically in the Princely states, which had their own courts and legal systems until the 1940s. The Code has since amended several times and is now supplemented by other criminal provisions.

Objective of the IPC (Indian Penal Code):

The objective of this Act is to provide a general Penal Code for India.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 this code.

The Indian security system has been one that has gone through a lot of tests and examinations throughout the time. This is due to the political as well as the social situation of the country. India is a land of diverse cultures and traditions and it is a place where people from various religions as well as ethnic backgrounds live together.


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:

INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860 (Sections 1 to 511)


Sections covered

Classification of offences

Chapter I

Sections 1 to 5


Chapter II

Sections 6 to 52

General Explanations

Chapter III

Sections 53 to 75

of Punishments

Chapter IV

Sections 76 to 106

General Exceptionsof 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.

  • Offences Affecting Life including murder, culpable homicide (Sections 299 to 311)
  • Of the Causing of Miscarriage, of Injuries to Unborn Children, of the Exposure of Infants, and of the Concealment of Births (Sections 312 to 318)
  • Hurt (Sections 319 to 338)
  • Wrongful Restraint and Wrongful Confinement (Sections 339 to 348)
  • Criminal Force and Assault (Sections 349 to 358)
  • Kidnapping, Abduction, Slavery and Forced Labour (Sections 359 to 374)
  • Sexual Offences including rape (Sections 375 to 376)
  • Unnatural Offences (Section 377)

Chapter XVII

Sections 378 to 462

Of Offences Against Property

  • Theft (Sections 378 to 382)
  • Extortion (Sections 383 to 389)
  • Robbery and Dacoity (Sections 390 to 402)
  • Criminal Misappropriation of Property (Sections 403 to 404)
  • Criminal Breach of Trust (Sections 405 to 409)
  • Of the Receiving of Stolen Property (Sections 410 to 414)
  • Cheating (Section 415 to 420)
  • Fraudulent Deeds and Disposition of Property (Sections 421 to 424)
  • Mischief (Sections 425 to 440)
  • Criminal Trespass (Sections 441 to 462)

Chapter XVIII

Section 463 to 489 -E

Offences relating to Documents and Property Marks

Offences relating:

  • to Documents (Section 463 to 477-A)
  • Property and Other Marks (Sections 478 to 489)
  • to Currency Notes and Bank Notes (Sections 489A to 489E)

Chapter XIX

Sections 490 to 492

Of the Criminal Breach of Contracts of Service

Chapter XX

Sections 493 to 498

Of Offences Relating 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


Various sections of the Indian Penal Code are controversial. They are challenged in courts claiming as against constitution of India. Also there is demand for abolition of some controversial IPC sections completely or partially.

Unnatural Offences – Section 377

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.

Explanation –

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 December 11, 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.”

Attempt to Commit Suicide:

  1. The Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code deals with an unsuccessful attempt to suicide.
  2. Attempting to commit suicide and doing any act towards the commission of the offence is punishable with imprisonment up to one year or with fine or with both.
  3. Considering long-standing demand and recommendations of the Law Commission of India, which has repeatedly endorsed the repeal of this section.
  4. Thus the Government of India in December 2014 decided to decriminalize attempt to commit suicide by dropping Section 309 of IPC from the statute book.
  5. Though this decision found favour with most of the states, a few others argued that it would make law enforcement agencies helpless against people who resort to fast unto death, self-immolation, etc., pointing out the case of anti-AFSPA activist Irom Chanu Sharmila.
  6. 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 an August 2015 ruling, the 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.

Section 497:

The Section 497 of the IPC 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.

Death Penalty:

Following  sections for punishment includes death penalty:

  1. 120B (criminal conspiracy)
  2. 121 (war against the Government of India)
  3. 122 (mutiny)
  4. 194 (false evidence to procure conviction for a capital offence)
  5. 302, 303 (murder)
  6. 305 (abetting suicide)
  7. 364A (kidnapping for ransom),
  8. 364A (banditry with murder),
  9. 376 (rape)

There is ongoing debate for abolishing capital punishment.

Importance of The Penal Code

  1. Indian Penal Code is a very important set of regulation which is very important for the system to be operated in a proper way.
  2. Its the main criminal code of India.
  3. They are various offences that are made under this law.
  4. The Indian Penal Code includes all the relevant criminal offences dealing with offences against the state, offenses for public, offences for armed forces, kidnapping, murder, and rape.
  5. It deals with offense related to religion, offences against property and it has an important section for offences for marriage, cruelty from husband or relatives, defamation and so on so forth.
  6. This was an general over view of the structure of Indian Penal Code.
  7. It is not only important for India but every country should have an Penal Code in order for its system to be operated in a systematic way.
  8. This document majorly covers all the basic offences which are highlighted in the society.

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IPC (Indian penal code)

Renuka is a Final Year LL.B. student at Siddharth College of Law. She has done her Bachelors in Banking & Insurance and has also completed her Masters in Business Management . She likes to participate in legal workshops and Moot Courts. Besides her interest in law, she has a keen aptitude for legal research and is good at putting her analysis into words.

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