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Indian Penal Code, 1860

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The Indian Penal Code was passed in the year 1860. However, it came into effect from January 1, 1862.

The Indian Penal Code applies to the whole of India except for the state of Jammu & Kashmir. It contains 23 Chapters and 511 Sections. Before the Indian Penal Code came into effect, the Mohammedan Criminal Law was applied to both Mohammedans and Hindus in India.

Sections in Indian Penal Code

Public Wrong

A Wrong can take place in two ways. Public Wrong and a Private Wrong.

Private Wrong causes injury to an individual or a group of individuals and the injured / aggrieved parties approach the Civil Court for damages/relief. Eg: Private nuisance, tort etc.

Public Wrong on the other hand is a threat to the society. It is an offence committed against the society which creates a social disorder. Eg: Murder, Rape etc.

Definition of Crime

Main Article: Definition of Crime

Many prominent jurists have made attempts to define Crime.

Sir William Blackstone in his 'Commentaries on Law of England', Sir William Blackstone defined Crime as "an act committed or omitted in violation of Public Law forbidding or commanding it".


Since there is no satisfactory definition of Crime, the Indian Penal Code, 1860 uses the word 'Offence' in place of Crime. Section 40 of the IPC defines Offence as an act punishable by the Code. An Offence takes place in two ways, either by commission of an act or by omission of an act.

When a Crime is done, any member of the public can institute proceedings against the person accused of the offence. Only in certain exceptional cases, the persons concerned alone can institute the criminal proceedings. Example of such crimes include Matrimonial cases, dowry cases, defamation etc.

Nature of Crime

A crime varies from place to place. Adultery is an offence in India under Sec. 497 of IPC, but not an offence in America. It is a Civil wrong in England.

A crime also changes from time to time. Consumption of Alcoholic drinks is a crime during prohibition, but not in case the prohibition is lifted.

Distinction between Tort and Crime

Tort is a kind of Civil Wrong. A Civil Wrong is a Private Wrong and is redressible in a Civil Court.

Distinction between Crime and Breach of Contract

A Contract is an agreement entered into between two or more parties/persons subject to certain terms and conditions for a lawful consideration.

Read about Elements of Crime

Related Topics

Related Acts

Related Cases / Recent Cases / Case Law

  • Vilas Pandurang Pawar and Another Vs State of Maharashtra and Others, Special Leave Petition (Criminal) 6432 of 2012, Supreme Court Judgement delivered on September 10, 2012: When a case is booked under both IPC and SC/ST Act, Supreme Court held that, if Section 18 of the SC/ST Act is (also) applicable to the case, the petitioners are not entitled to anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Code.

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