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Updated: Jul 31, 2021


The Indian Penal Code is a Substantive law containing 511 sections. It was Lord Macaulay who moved the House of Commons in 1833 to codify the whole of Criminal Law in India. Lord Macaulay himself was appointed as the Chairman of the First Law Commission and this Commission submitted its draft code of l.P.C. to the .Governor General in 1837.

This was circulated to Judges and Law Advisers. It was revised by another Commission and was passed by the 'Legislative Council' 'in 1860. The Criminal Procedure Code was passed in I860 (Amended in 1973). These two together constitute 'Criminal Law’ of India. This codification of both the substantive and adjectival (Procedural) Criminal law brought uniformity and definiteness to the Criminal jurisprudence in India. Definition of offences, containing many ingredients must be remembered with abundant caution. Even if one ingredient is slipped, it will not amount to an offense.

In Sn. 378 I P C theft has five essentials. If one, say "without consent' is omitted, the definition suffers from this infirmity and there will be no theft at all. Further, the illustrations play a dominant role and should be studied again and again to comprehend the essentials of the offences.

'Mens rea' which is the subject of great discussion in England, is much simplified by the l.P.C. The mental element is stated in each offense as 'dishonestly', "Fraudulently', intentionally' etc. Hence, the legal maxim 'Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea' is hardly applicable in India.The subject is heavy but is worth its weight in gold.


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