THE INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860

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The Constitution of India envisages right to life and personnel liberty to the every citizen of India. But the same has not provided any measures to safe guard the right of a citizen to live without any fear or safe guard his property from miscreants. For safe guarding the citizen and prevent the miscreants from causing hurt of any kind to the citizen as well as the society, the civilized society has made adequate enactments through its government. As far as India is concerned, one among the same is The Indian Penal Code.

By the enactment of the Indian penal code, the method of miscreants over powering the poor was curtailed providing protection to the citizen from attacks upon his person and property. In ancient days, the method of settling disputes regarding person and property remained within the parties. Later on by the enactment of the Indian penal code, this function came to be performed by the state. All offences against a citizen are treated as an offence against a state. The prosecution of the accused is now done by the state and the actual person who suffered injuries is treated as a witness only who aids the prosecution.

As far as India is concerned, criminal jurisprudence was recognized even in the ‘Manusmriti’. Manusmriti has explained the offences like assault, theft, robbery, slander, rape, cheating, adultery etc. The King was rendering justice, but the draw back at that time was that if the accused is fined, the amount went to treasury and not to the injured. But the laws changed as civilization changed.

Indian penal code was enacted by the British and Lord Macaulay was the president of the drafting committee and the draft was submitted to the Governor General of Indian in Council in 1837. Various changes were made and the version of the IPC which was passed in the year 1860 was presented to the Legislative Council in 1856. The same came into force on 6Th October 1860.

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IPC is one of the best laws in India. It discusses about almost all the offences a human may commit in his life time. It contains even the minutest details of the offences which are likely to be committed against a person, property and against public at large including the government.

IPC is divided into 23 chapters which are very cleverly bifurcated into various types of offences and their punishment according to its gravity. Mainly offences are differentiated as those committed against person, against property and against state. Another classification is; the offences committed by a single person and by a group of persons. Chapter 2 of the code elaborately discuss about definitions. Chapter 3 deals with different kinds of punishments by which a court can impose.  The most interesting aspect is that the code itself describes about the general exceptions wherein a person who commits an offence can escape from punishments utilizing various exceptions namely “General Exceptions”. The main exception among the same is right of private defense which not only extends to the person himself who executing the right, but also to his property, his friend’s person and his friend’s property also. The general exception also states that any offence committed by a child below the age of 7 is not an offence and it cannot be punished even though a major crime took place by the act of a child.

 Another important aspect is that punishment is prescribed for those persons who has abetted for the commission of an offence as well as a person who took part in a criminal conspiracy for commission of an offence. Offences are broadly classified into those against service personnel, those relating to election, against state, against public servant, against public tranquility, against public justice, against coins and stamps of the government, against decency and morality, against religion, against human body, against property, relating to marriage and against reputation of a person. It also provides punishment for an attempt to commit offence.

Even though the code widely describes all these offences and its punishments, the punishment provided in the code is not at all adequate to curtail fully the offences. Had the punishment more vigorous, the commission of the offences might have lessened. The punishment provided in the code is giving chance to reform an accused person and the said method helps the state little to bring down the rate of offences.

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Read the Bare Act : The Indian Penal Code , 1860

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