Education

Notes on Criminal Law Indian Penal Code(IPC)

Five Year Law Collage Semester –

Asstt Professor Rekha Khandelwal,

What is IPC

IPC is a Substantive  law, in which All offences  are defined ,  maximum & minimum punishment and by which court the offence will be trial are also described.

Substantive law

Substantive laws determine the legal relationship between different individuals, or between individuals and the State. It  secifies the rights, duties and liabilities of individuals. It  consists of written statutory rules passed by legislature that govern how people behave. On the other hand, The rules also define our rights and responsibilities as citizens,

Offence :

According to Section 40 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860  an act or omission which is made punishable by any law for the time being in force.

By the word “offence” in Article 20(1) of the Constitution of India is meant something which is a violation of a law in force and for the violation of which the law prescribes a penalty.

Nature and definition of crime

 The concept of crime has always been subject to popular opinion. It is said that Criminal law is the mirror of public opinion.

 A law is an order that supports the direction of conduct that must be followed by all members of society. The law specifies certain standards of behavior observed by people in society. The law refers fixed standards of behavior which are observed by public in society.

 Any divergence from the standards of behaviour fixed by the society is punished. Therefore, such conduct as does not accord with the prescribed standard is known as crime.

Definition of crime

 According to Oxford English dictionary. –“An act punishable by law as forbidden by statute or injurious to the public welfare.”

 Blackstone. –  “commentaries on the laws of England” has defined crime as “an act committed or omitted in violation of a law either forbidding or commanding it.”

 According to Kenny. Crimes are wrongs whose sanctions are punitive and are in no way remissible by any private person; but are remissible by Crown alone. If remissible at all.”

 According to HUDA – To a common man crimes are those acts which people in society consider worthy of serious condemnation.

According to Austin. – ‘A wrong which is pursued by the sovereign or his subordinates may be a crime.

Difference between Crime and offence –

  1. Crime is used in a broader sense, while the word offence is used in specific sense.
  2.  Any evil act which is not defined and punishable by any criminal law, may be a crime. While An offence is the act that is defined and punishable by any criminal law.
  3. An offence can be said crime but a crime cannot be said an offence.  
  4. Crime is not defined in any criminal law while The word ‘offence’ has, however, been defined under section 40 of the Indian Penal Code thus: “Except in the chapters and sections mentioned in clauses (2) and (3) of this section, the word ‘offence’ denotes a thing made punishable by this code. 

According to CrPC Sec. 2(n) offence” means any act or omission made punishable by any law for the time beingi n force and includes any act in respect of which a complaint may be made under section 20 of the Cattle- trespass Act, 1871 (1 of 1871);

Section 3(38) of General Clauses Act, 1897 defines offence as an act or omission made punishable by any law for the time being in force.

Example: Crulety by husband  or his relatives of a woman subjecting to her is an offence (498A)IPC

While Crulety by wife or her relatives of a man subjecting to him is not  an offence but may be a crime

Essential elements of crime – 

A human being 

An evil intent 

An act committed or omitted in adherence of the intent

An injury to any person or society in furtherance of the act

Stages of crime –     

Mental stage – generally not offence until specified.

                                   Preparation  – generally not offence until specified

                                   Attempt    –    punishable

                                   Offence   –     punishable

Criminal law and criminal science

‘Kenny discusses the place of criminal law in criminal science.

 According to him while crime is an offence committed by an individual in society, criminal science is a social study with the aim to discover the causes of criminality, to device the most effective methods of reducing its amount, and to perfect the machinery for dealing with those who have committed crimes.

 he names criminology, criminal policy, and criminal law as the three main branches of criminal science. He divided criminology which deals with causes of crime, into criminal biology and criminal sociology.

 Criminal law is concerned with dealing with cases by special sanctions imposed by criminal law and is thus the instrument of criminal policy.’[1]

Crime and tort

‘The nature of a crime is no different than that of a tort, and it has been said that there is no fundamental or inherent difference between the two. The same conduct, when it harms an individual, is a tort, whereas when it harms the society it becomes a crime. But a society consists of a large number of individuals.

 The difference between tort and crime

crime is a breach of public rights which affect the whole community, Proceedings are to be initiated in a Criminal Court against the accused by the state and the main aim is to punish the accused If convicted to set example that such crime is not repeated in future.

While tort is an infringement of private or civil rights of individual, The suit for damages is filed in the Civil Court against the wrongdoers by the plaintiff  himself for redress, The main aim is to re compensate the plaintiff for the loss suffered by him from the wrongful act of the defendant.’[2]

Principle of criminal liability – Recognition of the mental and physical elements

 The most famous principal of criminal liability in the form of a maxim thus:

Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea,

which means that a guilty act together with a guilty mind constitute a crime.

 Actus rea:

Any act or omission which is prohibited by law, is called actus rea.

Mens rea:

Whenever any person does an act with guilty mind, it is called mens rea.

Both the guilty mind and actus rea must be present at the same time to entail conviction under criminal law.


[1] Dr. Jai Narayann Pandey, The Constitutional Law of India, Central Law Agency

[2] Dr. Jai Narayann Pandey, The Constitutional Law of India, Central Law Agency

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