The Indian Penal Code,1860

    Edited by: Vaani Garg


    Indian Penal Code is the official criminal code of India which was drafted way back in 1860. It’s objective is to provide a general penal code for the country. It has 511 sections across 23 chapters, providing the list of crimes along with their definitions and punishments.

    What is Crime?

    Crime may be defined as an act or an omission which the society deems fit to punish for. Different acts and or omissions so punishable are considered as crimes. There is no universally agreed definition of what a crime is. However, the most straightforward way of thinking about crime is to look at it in terms of a legalistic perspective – from this approach, a crime is an act that is illegal. It’s against the law. Specifically, it is against the criminal law. In so doing the act will have certain aspects to it – it will have an aspect of criminal harm and it will have an aspect of criminal blame.

    Blackstone defined crime as “an act committed or omitted in violation of public law forbidding
    or commanding it

    According to Glanville Williams, “a crime is a legal wrong that can be followed by criminal proceedings which may result in punishment.”

    Elements Of Crime

    The cardinal principle of criminal law is contained in the maxim “actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea“. It means an act does not make a person guilty of a crime unless the mind is also guilty.

    The general rule of English law states that a person will be criminally liable if he has committed a prohibited act, which is by a certain state of mind. Clearly, there is a difference between an accident that causes injury and a deliberate act that injures another. The difference may not be in the act but in the state mind of the criminal. However, certain crimes do not require any particular state of mind. These crimes are classified as strict liability offenses. They are an
    an exception to the requirement of mens rea.

    Actus Reus:

    It is the deed of commission, a result of the active conduct of the offender. The word Actus denotes a deed, a material result of human conduct. When the criminal policy regards such a deed as sufficiently harmful, it prohibits it and seeks to prevent its occurrence by imposing a penalty forits commission. Thus, Actus Reus may be defined as such a result of human conduct as the law seeks to prevent. It is important to note that the actus reus, which is the result of conduct and therefore an event must be distinguished from the conduct which produced the result. For example, in the case of murder, the death of the victim is brought by stabbing. Here the actus reus homicide which is brought by the conduct of the offender i.e. stabbing.

    Mens Rea:

    Mens rea means the evil intent or guilty state of the mind. It refers to a psychological state or desire of the offender to bring about a contemplated result. Two tests have evolved to determine the mens rea in a particular case:
    i. Whether the act in question is a voluntary act of the accused? (Section 39 of IPC defines voluntarily).
    ii. Whether the accused had the foresight of the consequences of the conduct.