Indian Penal Code

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The Indian Penal Code, 1860
Council of the Governor General of India
Citation Act No. 45 of 1860
Territorial extent India (except Jammu and Kashmir)
Enacted by Legislative Council
Date enacted 6 October 1860
Date assented to 6 October 1860
Date commenced 1 January 1862
Committee report First Law Commission
see Amendments
Related legislation
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Status: Substantially amended

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. The code was drafted in 1860 on the recommendations of first law commission of India established in 1834 under the Government of India Act 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 partition of the British Indian Empire, the Indian Penal Code was inherited by its successor states, the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan, where it continues independently as the Pakistan Penal Code. After the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan, the code continued in force there. The Code was also adopted by the British colonial authorities in Colonial Burma, Ceylon (modern 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 Jammu and Kashmir is also based on this Code.[4]


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.


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:[7]

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 402)
  • 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 Section 463 to 489 -E Offences relating to Documents and Property Marks
  • Offences relating to Documents (Section 463 to 477-A)
  • Offences relating to Property and Other Marks (Sections 478 to 489)
  • Offences relating 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


Unnatural Offences - Section 377[edit]

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 shell also be liable to fine.

Explanation - Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.[8]

  • 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. [9]
  • 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."[10]

Attempt to Commit Suicide[edit]

The Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code deals with an unsuccessful attempt to suicide. 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. Considering long-standing demand and recommendations of the Law Commission of India, which has repeatedly endorsed the repeal of this section, the Government of India in December 2014 decided to decriminalise attempt to commit suicide by dropping Section 309 of IPC from the statute book. 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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13][14]

Section 497[edit]

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.[15][16]

Criminal justice reforms[edit]

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.[17] 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 has been amended several times.[18][19]

S. No. Short title of amending legislation No. Year
1 The Repealing Act, 1870 14 1870
2 The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1870 27 1870
3 The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1872 19 1872
4 The Indian Oaths Act, 1873 10 1873
5 The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1882 8 1882
6 The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1882 10 1882
7 The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1886 10 1886
8 The Indian Marine Act, 1887 14 1887
9 The Metal Tokens Act, 1889 1 1889
10 The Indian Merchandise Marks Act, 1889 4 1889
11 The Cantonments Act, 1889 13
12 The Indian Railways Act, 1890 9
13 The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1891 10
14 The Amending Act, 1891 12
15 The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1894 3
16 The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1895 3
17 The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1896 6 1896
18 The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1898 4 1898
19 The Currency-Notes Forgery Act, 1899 12 1899
20 The Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1910 3 1910
21 The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1913 8 1913
22 The Indian Elections Offences and Inquiries Act, 1920 39 1920
23 The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1921 16
24 The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1923 20
25 The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1924 5
26 The Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1924 18
27 The Workmen’s Breach of Contract (Repealing) Act, 1925 3
28 The Obscene Publications Act, 1925 8
29 The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1925 29
30 The Repealing and Amending Act, 1927 10
31 The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1927 25
32 The Repealing and Amending Act, 1930 8
33 The Indian Air Force Act, 1932 14
34 The Amending Act, 1934 35
35 The Government of India (Adaptation of Indian Laws) Order, 1937 N/A 1937
36 The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1939 22
37 The Offences on Ships and Aircraft Act, 1940 4
38 The Indian Merchandise Marks (Amendment) Act, 1941 2
39 The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1942 8
40 The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1943 6
41 The Indian Independence (Adaptation of Central Acts and Ordinances) Order, 1948 N/A 1948
42 The Criminal Law (Removal of Racial Discriminations) Act, 1949 17
43 The Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1949 42 1949
44 The Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950 N/A 1950
45 The Repealing and Amending Act, 1950 35
46 The Part B States (Laws) Act, 1951 3
47 The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1952 46
48 The Repealing and Amending Act, 1952 48
49 The Repealing and Amending Act, 1953 42
50 The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1955 26
51 The Adaptation of Laws (No.2) Order, 1956 N/A 1956
52 The Repealing and Amending Act, 1957 36
53 The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1958 2
54 The Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958 43
55 The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1959 52
56 The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1961 41
57 The Anti-Corruption Laws (Amendment) Act, 1964 40
58 The Criminal and Election Laws Amendment Act, 1969 35
59 The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1969 36
60 The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1972 31
61 The Employees’ Provident Funds and Family Pension Fund (Amendment) Act, 1973 40
62 The Employees’ State Insurance (Amendment) Act, 1975 38
63 The Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 1975 40
64 The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983 43
65 The Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983 46
66 The Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986 43
67 The Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act, 1988 33
68 The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 49
69 The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1993 42
70 The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1995 24
71 The Information Technology Act, 2000 21 2000
72 The Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2003 24 2003
73 The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005 25 2005
74 The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005 2 2006
75 The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 10 2009
76 The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 13 2013


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

Popular references[edit]

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.[21] 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.[22][23] "Dafa 302" was also the name of a Bollywood movie released in 1975.[24] Similarly, "Shree 420" was the name of a 1955 Bollywood movie starring Raj Kapoor.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Universal's Guide to Judicial Service Examination. Universal Law Publishing. p. 2. ISBN 9350350297. 
  2. ^ Lal Kalla, Krishan. The Literary Heritage of Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir: Mittal Publications. p. 75. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Law Commission of India - Early Beginnings". Law Commission of India. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Lal Kalla, Krishan. The Literary Heritage of Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir: Mittal Publications. p. 75. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "history of IPC is provided in comments". 
  6. ^ "Preamble of IPC". 
  7. ^ B.M.Gandhi. Indian Panel Code (Paper Back) (2013 ed.). EBC. pp. 1–832. ISBN 8170128927. 
  8. ^ B.M.Gandhi. Indian Penal Code. EBC. pp. 1–796. ISBN 8170128927. 
  9. ^ "Delhi High Court reinterprets the Sec. 377". 
  10. ^ "Supreme Court sets aside Delhi HC verdict decriminalising gay sex". 
  11. ^ "Government decriminalizes attempt to commit suicide, removes section 309". The Times of India. 10 December 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  12. ^ "Attempt to Suicide". Press Information Bureau. Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  13. ^ "Rajasthan HC says Santhara illegal, Jain saints want PM Modi to move SC". The Indian Express. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  14. ^ "Rajasthan HC bans starvation ritual 'Santhara', says fasting unto death not essential tenet of Jainism". IBN Live. CNN-IBN. 10 August 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  15. ^ "Wife is private property, so no trespassing". The Times of india. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  16. ^ "Adultery law biased against men, says Supreme Court". The Times of India. 3 December 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  17. ^ "IPC Reform Committee recommends separation of investigation from prosecution powers (pdf)" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  18. ^ Parliament of India. "The Indian Penal Code" (PDF). Retrieved 7 June 2015.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  19. ^ The Indian Penal Code, 1860. Current Publications. 7 May 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  20. ^ "IPC's endurance lauded". 
  21. ^ Henry Scholberg, The return of the Raj: a novel, NorthStar Publications, 1992, ... People were saying, 'Twenty plus Four equals Char Sau Bees.' Char Sou Bees is 420 which is the number of the law that has to do with counterfeiting ... 
  22. ^ Star Plus, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge – Jokes Book, Popular Prakashan, ISBN 978-81-7991-343-7, ... Tazeerat-e-hind , dafa 302 ke tahat, mujrim ko maut ki saza sunai jaati hai ... 
  23. ^ Alok Tomar, Monisha Shah, Jonathan Lynn, Ji Mantriji: The diaries of Shri Suryaprakash Singh, Penguin Books in association with BBC Worldwide, 2001, ISBN 978-0-14-302767-6, ... we'd have the death penalty back tomorrow. Dafa 302, taaziraat-e-Hind ... to be hung by the neck until death ... 
  24. ^ D. P. Mishra, Great masters of Indian cinema: the Dadasaheb Phalke Award winnersGreat Masters of Indian Cinema Series, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 2006, ISBN 978-81-230-1361-9, ... Badti Ka Naam Dadhi ( 1975), Chhoti Si Baat ( 1975), Dafa 302 ( 1 975), Chori Mera Kaam ( 1975), Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka (1975) ... 
  25. ^ Shree 420 on IMDB

Further reading[edit]

  • C.K.Takwani (2014). Indian Penal Code. Eastern Book Company. 
  • Murlidhar Chaturvedi (2011). Bhartiya Dand Sanhita,1860. EBC. ISBN 9-78-935028140-6. 
  • Surender Malik & Sudeep Malik (2015). Supreme Court on Penal Code. EBC. ISBN 9-78-935145218-8. 

External links[edit]