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Indian Penal Code (IPC, Hindi: भारतीय दण्ड संहिता) is the main criminal code of India. It is a comprehensive code intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law. The code was drafted in 1860 on the recommendations of first law commission of India established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833 under the Chairmanship of Thomas Babington Macaulay.[1][2][3] It came into force in British India during the early British Raj period in 1862. 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 been amended several times and is now supplemented by other criminal provisions. Based on IPC, Jammu and Kashmir has enacted a separate code known as Ranbir Penal Code (RPC).

After the departure of the British, the Indian Penal Code was inherited by Pakistan as well, much of which was formerly part of British India, and there it is now called the Pakistan Penal Code. Even after the independence of Bangladesh (Formerly known as East Pakistan) from Pakistan (Formerly known as West Pakistan), it continued in force there. It, the Indian Penal Code, was also adopted by the British colonial authorities in Burma, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), the Straits Settlements (now part of Malaysia), Singapore and Brunei, and remains the basis of the criminal codes in those countries.The Ranbir Penal Code applicable in that state of Jammu and Kashmir of India, is also based on this Code.[4]


During the Moghul rule, courts administered the "Sharia" law to the exclusion of Hindu law. Islamic law gave way to English criminal law, with the increase of British influence in the Indian subcontinent. Before 1860, The English criminal law, as modified by several Acts of the Governor-General, was administered in the Presidency-Towns of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras.

The draft of the Indian Penal Code was prepared by the First Law Commission, chaired by Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1834 and was submitted to Governor-General of India Council in 1837. Its basis is the law of England freed from superfluities, technicalities and local peculiarities. Elements were also derived from the Napoleonic Code and from Edward Livingston's Louisiana Civil Code of 1825. The first final draft of the Indian Penal Code was submitted to the Governor-General of India in Council in 1837, but the draft was again revised. The drafting was completed in 1850 and the Code was presented to the Legislative Council in 1856, but it did not take its place on the statute book of British India until a generation later, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The draft then underwent a very careful revision at the hands of Barnes Peacock, who later became the first Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, and the future puisne judges of the Calcutta High Court, who were members of the Legislative Council, and was passed into law on 6 October 1860.[5] The Code came into operation on 1 January 1862. Unfortunately, Macaulay did not survive to see his masterpiece come into force, having died near the end of 1859.[3][1]


The objective of this Act is to provide a general penal code for India.[6] Though not an initial objective, the Act does not repeal the penal laws which were in force at the time of coming into force in India. This was so 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.


Main article: List of sections of Indian Penal Code

The Indian Penal Code of 1860, sub-divided into twenty three chapters, comprises five hundred and eleven 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)
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.
  • Of 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)
  • Of Hurt (Sections 319 to 338)
  • Of Wrongful Restraint and Wrongful Confinement (Sections 339 to 348)
  • Of Criminal Force and Assault (Sections 349 to 358)
  • Of Kidnapping, Abduction, Slavery and Forced Labour (Sections 359 to 374)
  • Sexual Offences including rape (Sections 375 to 376)
  • Of Unnatural Offences (Section 377)
Chapter XVII Sections 378 to 462 Of Offences Against Property
  • Of Theft (Sections 378 to 382)
  • Of Extortion (Sections 383 to 389)
  • Of Robbery and Dacoity (Sections 390 to 400)
  • Of Criminal Misappropriation of Property (Sections 403 to 404)
  • Of Criminal Breach of Trust (Sections 405 to 409)
  • Of the Receiving of Stolen Property (Sections 410 to 414)
  • Of Cheating (Section 415 to 420)
  • Of Fraudulent Deeds and Disposition of Property (Sections 421 to 424)
  • Of Mischief (Sections 425 to 440)
  • Of Criminal Trespass (Sections 441 to 462)
Chapter XVIII Sections 463 to 489 Of Offences relating to Documents and Property Marks
  • Of Property and Other Marks (Sections 478 to 489)
  • Of 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


Section 377[]

  • Section 377 had been interpreted to suppress the rights of sexual minorities in India. This section has been termed as the biggest hurdle in dealing with control of AIDS in the country.Template:Citation needed But 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 adult males. This was incorrectly termed by many peopleTemplate:Who including reputed media housesTemplate:Which as amendment of this section which it was not.
  • Section 377- Gay Sex is Crime: Delhi High Court judgment Date of Judgment-19.08.2009– 2009 [3] [Journal of Criminal Cases] JCC Page No. 1787. In The High Court of Delhi— Hon’ble Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah, Hon’ble Dr. Justice S. Murlidhar
  • On December 11, 2013, Supreme Court of India has over-ruled the judgment given by Delhi High court in 2009 and clarified that the under Sec 377, gay sex is "against the order of nature" and termed it as illegal and punishable. Further Justice G.S.Singhavi clarified that the judgment given is over the petition filled against Delhi High court order and parliament can overrule this by creating / deleting the law / Sec 377.
  • Naz Foundation Vs. Government of NCT of Delhi & Ors.
  • Section 377—Unnatural Offence-Constitution of India—Article 12—Universal Declaration of Human Rights—Article 17-International Covenant of Civil and Political rights- Article 1-2- European Convention on Human Right—Criminal Tribes Act, 1871 as amended in 1936—Tamil Nadu Government M.S. No. 199 dated 21.12.2006– Recognizing Aravanis [Hijras] discrimination of society—Sexual Offence Act, 1967
  • petitioner NGO challenged constitutionality of Section 377, stating it violates Article 21, 19, 15,14 through civil writ petition—founded upon the plea that Section 377 infringes said articles when sexual acts between consenting adults in privates—held—So far consensual sexual acts of adults in private Articles 21, 14, 15 of Constitution of India is violative
  • Section 377 will continue to govern non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex involving minors. Sexual Offenders Act, 1967—Decriminalized homosexuality act of sodomy Any law interfering with the personal liberty of a person must satisfy triple test propounded under Articles 14,19, 21 of the is so.

Words & Phrases[]

  • Adult—Everyone 18 years of age or more.
  • Consent—Persons below 18 years would be presumed not to be able to consent to a sexual act.
  • Carnal Intercourse—is used in Section 377, and distinct from expression "sexual intercourse" in Sections 375 & 497.
  • Carnal—To do with the flesh or body.
  • Gay Community—Men who have sex with men [MSM], homosexuals.
  • Unnatural—not according to nature; for example, according to nature the orifice of the mouth is not meant for sexual/carnal intercourse.
  • Unnatural Offence—Unnatural sexual acts has no rational nexus to the classification created between procreative and non-procreative sexual acts.

Decriminalization of Suicide Attempts[]

  • Section 309 meets out punishment for an unsuccessful attempt to suicide. In September 2011, Government of India indicated that it is considering to amend this section and to decriminalise suicide attempts. The Government was responding to a PIL filed in the Supreme Court.[7]

Criminal Justice Reforms[]

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.[8] 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.


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.[9] Modern crimes involving technology unheard of during Macaulay's time fit easily within the CodeTemplate:Citation needed mainly because of the broadness of the Code's drafting.

Popular references[]

Some references to specific sections (called dafa'a in Hindi-Urdu, دفعہ or दफ़आ/दफ़ा) of the IPC have entered popular speech in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. For instance, conmen are referred to as 420s (chaar-sau-bees in Hindi-Urdu)) after Section 420 which covers cheating.[10] 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.[11][12] "Dafa 302" was also the name of a Bollywood movie released in 1975.[13] Similarly, "Shree 420" was the name of a 1955 Bollywood movie starring Raj Kapoor.[14]

See also[]

  • Indian Evidence Act
  • Category:Indian Penal Code Sections


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  14. Shree 420 on IMDB

External links[]