Category Archive Indian Penal Code Overview

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Overview of Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Brief History of IPC

The IPC came into existence in 1860 on recommendations of the first law commission of India established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833. The Code was made effective during the British rule in January 1, 1862 and was applicable to the whole of the then British India except the princely states as they had their own courts and legal systems till 1940s. 
The Code was later adopted by the Independent India and Pakistan after partition. The Ranbir Penal Code applicable in Jammu and Kashmir is also based on this Code. It is applicable to all the citizens of India. The IPC has been amended numerous times since then and is now supplemented by various other criminal provisions. At present, the IPC is divided into 23 chapters and contains 511 sections in total.

Provisions under the Indian Penal Code

Indian Penal Code has laid down as to what is a wrong and what is the punishment for committing such wrong. 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. A chapter-wise summary of the important provisions of the Code has been laid down as follows: 

1. Chapter IV- General Exceptions
IPC recognizes defenses in chapter four under the heading ‘General Exceptions.’ Sections 76 to 106 of the IPC cover these defenses. The law offers certain defenses that protects a person from criminal liability. These defenses are based on the premise that though the person committed the offense, he cannot be held liable. This is because, at the time of the commission of the offense, either the prevailing circumstances were such that the act of the person was justified or his condition was such that he could not form the requisite mens rea (guilty intention) for the crime. The defenses are generally classified under two heads- justifiable and excusable. Thus, for committing a wrong, a person must be responsible for doing a wrongful act without having any justification or excuse for it. 

2. Chapter V- Abetment
A crime may be committed by one or more persons involved in crime then their liability depends upon the extent of their participation. Thus this rule of joint liability comes into existence. But there is an important fact which is that the law has a knowledge about the abettor, who has given help to another in crime. This rule is very ancient and was applied in Hindu Law also. In English Law, criminals are divided in four categories, but in India there is only one distinction between the doer and his helper who is known as abettor. The crime of abetment come under section 107 to 120 of the IPC. Section 107 defines ‘abetment of a things’ and section l08 defines the abettor. 

3. Chapter VI- Offences against the State
Chapter VI, Section 121 to Section 130 of the Indian Penal Code deals with offences against State. The Indian Penal Code 1860 has made provisions to safeguard and preserve State’s existence and has provided the most severe punishment of the death sentence or life imprisonment and fine in case of offence against the state. This chapter includes offences like waging war, collecting arms to wage war, sedition, etc. 

4. Chapter VIII- Offences against Public Tranquility
This Chapter explains the provisions about the offences against the public tranquility. This Chapter contains sections 141 to 160. The Unlawful Assembly, Rioting, Affray, etc., are the main offences. These offences are injurious to the public peace. For the development of a society, there must be peace in the society. Hence the framers of the Code incorporated these provisions stating and defining the offences which are against the public tranquility. 

5. Chapter XII- Offences relating to Coins and Government Stamps
This Chapter covers section 230 to 263A of the IPC and deals with offences relating to coin and government stamps. These offences can be counterfeiting coins, making or selling or possessing instrument for counterfeiting coins or Indian coins, importing or exporting of counterfeit coin, counterfeit stamp, possession of counterfeit stamp, effacing any writ¬ing from any substance bearing Government stamp to cause loss to Government, using stamp known to have been used before, etc. 

6. Chapter XIV- Offences affecting public health, safety, maintenance, decency and morals
This chapter contains sections 268 to 294A. The main offences covered under this chapter are Public Nuisance, Adulteration of food or drink intended for sale, Adulteration of drugs, Rash driving, negligent conduct with regard to poisonous substance, negligent conduct with respect to animal, sale of obscene books, sale of obscene objects to young person, obscene acts and songs. 

7. Chapter XVI- Offences affecting the Human Body
In an appropriate case, additional charges may be brought against anyone under the Penal Code for offences affecting the human body. Chapter XVI (Sections 299 to 311) of the Penal Code criminalizes acts affecting the human body i.e. those that cause death and physical harm, including grievous harm, assault, sexual offences and wrongful confinement. These legislative provisions cover violence against persons in general, and offences of this nature are considered very serious and usually carry hefty punishments. For example, the offence of voluntarily causing grievous hurt carries the punishment of imprisonment of up to 10 years as well as a fine. 

8. Chapter XVIII- Offences relating to documents and property marks
Chapter-XVIII of the Indian Penal Code explains the provisions about the offences relating to documents and to property marks. This Chapter contains Sees. 463 to 489-E. Of them, sees. 463 to 477-A explain the provisions about “Forgery”, “Forged documents”, making of false documents and punishments. Sec. 463 defines “Forgery”. Sec. 464 explains about making “False Document”. Sec. 465 prescribes punishment for forgery. Sec. 466 explains forgery of record of Court or of public register, etc. Sec. 467 states about forgery of valuable security, will, etc. Sec. 468 explains forgery for purpose of cheating. Sec. 469 states forgery for purpose of harming reputation. Sec. 470 defines forged documents. Remaining Sections, i.e., from Sec. 471 to Sec. 477-A are aggravated forms of forgery. 

9. Chapter XX- Offences relating to marriage & Chapter XXA- Cruelty by husband or relatives of husband
Section 493 to 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, deals with the offences relating to marriage. Section 493 of the Code deals with the offence of cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage. Section 494 deals with offence of marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife. Section 496 deals with the offence of marriage ceremony fraudulently gone through without lawful marriage. Section 497 dealt with adultery which has been recently decriminalized by the Supreme Court. Section 498 deals with enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman. Section 498A deals with cruelty against a woman by the husband or his relatives. 

10. Chapter XXI- Defamation
Section 499 to 502 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the defamation. Offence of defamation can be dealt both under the criminal law as well as under Law of Torts. Criminal nature of defamation is defined under section 499 and section 500 provides for its punishment. 

11. Chapter XXII- Criminal Intimidation, Insult and Annoyance
Section 503 to 510 talk about criminal intimidation, insult and annoyance. Section 503 defines criminal intimidation. Section 504 prescribes punishment for intentional insult to cause breach the public peace. Section 505 deals with the offence of statements conducing public mischief. Section 506 provides the punishment for criminal intimidation. Section 507 spells out the punishment for criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication, or having taken precaution to conceal the name or abode of the person from whom the threat comes. Section 508 deals with any act caused by inducing to believe that he will be rendered an object of divine displeasure. Section 509 deals with the offence of using any word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a women. Section 510 deals with misconduct in public by a drunken person.

What are the non-bailable offences under the Indian Penal Code?

Following is the list of non-bailable offences under the Indian Penal Code:

  1. Section 121- Waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting the waging of war, against the Government of India
  2. Section 124A- Sedition
  3. Section 131- Abetting mutiny or attempting to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman
  4. Section 172 Absconding to avoid service of summons
  5. Section 232- Counterfeiting Indian coin
  6. Section 238- Import or export of counterfeiting Indian coin
  7. Section 246- Fraudulently diminishing weight of coin
  8. Section 255- Counterfeiting of government stamp
  9. Section 274- Adulteration of drug
  10. Section 295A- Deliberate and ,malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings of any class, by insulting religious beliefs
  11. Section 302- Punishment for murder
  12. Section 304- Punishment for Culpable homicide not amounting to murder
  13. Section 304B- Dowry death
  14. Section 306- Abetment of suicide
  15. Section 307- Attempt to murder
  16. Section 308- Attempt to commit culpable homicide
  17. Section 369- Abduction of child under the age of 10 years
  18. Section 370- Trafficking of person
  19. Section 376- Punishment for Rape
  20. Section 376D- Gang rape
  21. Section 377- Unnatural offence
  22. Section 379- Punishment for theft
  23. Section 384- Punishment for extortion
  24. Section 392- Punishment for robbery
  25. Section 395- Punishment for dacoity
  26. Section 406- Punishment for criminal breach of trust
  27. Section 411- Dishonestly receiving stolen property
  28. Section 420- cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property
  29. Section 489A- Counterfeiting currency notes or bank notes
  30. Section 498A- Husband or relatives of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty

What are the bailable offences under the Indian Penal Code?

Following is the list of bailalble offences under the Indian Penal Code:

  1. Section 140- Wearing soldier’s garb, sailor, airman
  2. Section 144- Punishment for unlawful assembly
  3. Section 154- Owner or occupier of land on which unlawful assembly is held
  4. Section 158- Owner or occupier land on which unlawful assembly is held
  5. Section 166- Public Servant disobeying direction under law
  6. Section 167- Public servant framing incorrect document
  7. Section 177- Furnishing false information
  8. Section 181- False statement on oath to public servants
  9. Section 186- Disobedience to order duty promulgated by public servant
  10. Section 189- Threat of injury to public servant
  11. Section 191- Giving false evidence
  12. Section 195A- Threatening any person to give false evidence
  13. Section 203- Giving false information with respect to an offence
  14. Section 210- Fraudulently making false claim in court
  15. Section 223- Escape from confinement or custody negligently suffered by public servant
  16. Section 213- Taking gift, to screen an offender from punishment
  17. Section 228- Intentionally insult or interruption to public servant sitting in judicial proceedings
  18. Section 264- Fraudulent use or false instrument for weighing
  19. Section 269- Negligent act likely to spread infectious disease dangerous to life
  20. Section 279- Rash driving or driving on a public vehicle
  21. Section 283- Danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation
  22. Section 292- Sale of obscene book
  23. Section 297- Trespassing on burial places
  24. Section 304A- Punishment for causing death by negligence
  25. Section 309- Attempt to commit suicide
  26. Section 318- Concealment of birth by secret disposal of body
  27. Section 323- Causing hurt
  28. Section 349- Using force
  29. Section 354D- Stalking
  30. Section 363- Punishment for Kidnapping
  31. Section 417- Punishment for Cheating
  32. Section 426- Punishment for Mischief
  33. Section 447- Punishment for Criminal trespass
  34. Section 465- Forgery
  35. Section 477A- Falsification of accounts
  36. Section 489C- Possession of forged currency notes or banknotes
  37. Section 494- Marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife
  38. Section 496- Marriage ceremony fraudulently gone through without lawful marriage
  39. Section 498- Enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent
  40. Section 500- Punishment for Defamation
  41. Section 506- Criminal intimidation
  42. Section 509- Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman
  43. Section 510- Misconduct in public by drunken person

FAQS on Indian Penal Code (IPC)

• Which sections under the Indian Penal Code protect women?

The following sections of the IPC deal with offences against women:
1.Section 354 of the IPC criminalizes any act by a person that assaults or uses criminal force against a woman with the intention or knowledge that it will outrage her modesty. Such an act is punishable with either simple or rigorous imprisonment of up to 2 years, or a fine, or both.

2. Sexual harassment is defined under S. 354 A of the IPC as a man committing any of the following acts:
(i) Physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
(ii) A demand or request for sexual favours; or
(iii) Showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
(iv) Making sexually coloured remarks, This law covers a wide ambit of acts that constitute sexual harassment, including unwanted verbal or physical advances of any kind. This law is not limited by location at which the sexual harassment takes place, unlike the law to prevent sexual harassment at work places which is explained in a later section. 
The punishment for (i), (ii) and (iii) as given above is rigorous imprisonment for a term that may extend to 3 years, or a fine, or both while the punishment for (iv) is either simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 1 year, or a fine, or both.

3. Section 354B of the IPC criminalizes assault or use of criminal force against a woman with the intention of disrobing her, i.e. with the intention of depriving her of her clothing or forcing her to be naked. Such an act is punishable with both simple or rigorous imprisonment of 3 to 7 years and a fine. Aiding such a crime also carries the same punishment.

4. Section 354C of the IPC criminalizes the act of voyeurism. It defines it as a man watching or capturing the image of a woman engaged in a private act in circumstances where she would usually not expect to be observed by the perpetrator or by any other person on the orders of the perpetrator or the distribution of an image so captured by the perpetrator. The punishment for committing this offence is simple or rigorous imprisonment of 1 to 3 years and a fine. Repeated offenders are punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment of 3 to 7 years and a fine.

5. Section 354D of the IPC criminalizes stalking of a woman by a man. It defines the Act to include continuous following or contacting a woman by a man or attempts to contact a woman to build a personal relationship with that women even when the woman has shown a clear lack of interest. It also include acts of monitoring a woman’s electronic communication, i.e. communication over emails, social media etc.

6. Section 370 of the IPC defines human trafficking as the action or practice of transporting people illegally or without their consent across areas mainly to be used in the labour or commercial sex industry. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 is the law regulating human trafficking in India.

7. Section 375 of the IPC defines rape to include any or all of the following acts, by a man against a woman:
a. Penetration of a man’s sexual organ (penis) into a woman’s mouth, vagina, urethra or anus or making her do so with him or someone else; or
b. Inserting any object, not the penis, into a woman’s vagina, urethra or anus or making her do so with him or someone else; or
c. Manipulating any body part of the woman to cause penetration into her vagina, urethra, anus or any other body part or making her do so with him or someone else; or
d. Applying his mouth to a woman’s vagina, urethra or anus or making her do so with him or someone else.
The punishment is rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to life and the person will also be liable to pay a fine.

• Can a statement amount to defamation if made against a dead person?

An imputation that is likely to harm the reputation of an individual had he/she been alive can amount to defamation, yes. Also, if the statement was intended to hurt feelings of family members of the dead person then it may amount to defamation

• If a person hides first marriage and contracts second marriage, can an action be taken against him under IPC?

The offence known as ‘bigamy’ is committed when a person having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which marriage is void by reason of it taking place during the life of such husband or wife. Such person is punishable with imprisonment of either description up to seven years and fine. (Section 494 of IPC)

• What specific provisions of law deal with domestic violence?

In 1983, domestic violence was recognized as a specific criminal offence by the introduction of section 498-A into the Indian Penal Code. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman. Four types of cruelty are dealt with by this law:

  1. Conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide,
  2. Conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the life, limb or health of the woman,
  3. Harassment with the purpose of forcing the woman or her relatives to give some property, or
  4. Harassment because the woman or her relatives is unable to yield to demands for more money or does not give some property.

The punishment is imprisonment for up to three years and a fine. The complaint against cruelty need not be lodged by the person herself. Any relative may also make the complaint on her behalf.

• What can be done in the case of dowry-related harassment or dowry death?

Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code covers dowry-related harassment. As with other provisions of criminal law, a woman can use the threat of going to court to deter this kind of harassment. The Indian Penal Code also addresses dowry deaths in section 304-B. If a woman dies of “unnatural causes” within seven years of marriage and has been harassed for dowry before her death, the Courts will assume that it is a case of dowry death. The husband or in-laws will then have to prove that their harassment was not the cause of her death. A dowry death is punishable by imprisonment of at least seven years. When filing an FIR (First Hand Report), in a case where a woman is suspected to have been murdered after a history of torture due to dowry demands, the complaint should be filed under section 304-B rather than under section 306, which deals with abetment to suicide. Section 306 should be invoked when a woman commits suicide because of dowry-related harassment.

• Can you refuse to have sex with your husband? Is there a law on marital rape?

Since India does not have a law on marital rape, even if a woman’s husband has sexual intercourse with her without her consent, he cannot be prosecuted for rape. However, excessive and unreasonable demands for sex, or demands for unnatural sex have been considered forms of cruelty and may entitle a woman to a divorce.
If a woman is judicially separated, her husband cannot have sexual intercourse with her without her consent. If he does, he can be prosecuted under section 376-A of the IPC. Note that consent under pressure (e.g. because of threats to injure or to stop paying maintenance) is not considered valid.