Criminal Law in India

Criminal law in India refers to both crimes and misdemeanors that are against the state. For crimes, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. The Indian Penal Code, the Crpc, the Eviction Act, and other laws control criminal law. A set of laws and regulations that outline behavior that is illegal under the law because it endangers or affects the public's safety and welfare and that spell out the penalties that will be applied when such behavior is committed.

What is the meaning of Criminal Law?

Criminal law refers to offenses for which penalties are established. Criminal Procedure, on the other hand, describes how criminal laws are enforced. As an illustration, the criminal law that forbids murder is a substantive criminal law. It is typically thought of as a procedural matter how the government enacts this substantive legislation through the collection of evidence and prosecution.

Legislation Related to Criminal Laws in India

Indian criminal law is composed of three main acts: the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Indian Penal Code, 1860. A substantive law that outlines rights and obligations, etc., is the Indian Penal Code. The guidelines for how substantive laws can be applied are laid forth in the Code of Criminal Procedure. In India, a plethora of minor laws are created.

Indian Penal Code, 1860

The Indian security system has undergone several testing and evaluations throughout the years. The nation's political and socioeconomic situation is the cause of Indian security system. India is a country with many different customs and civilizations. As a result of the people's cultural variety and conflicts of interest between various governments, ethnic groupings, and cultural consortiums, there are disputes among the people. Additionally, there are several attacks by terrorist groups and neighboring nations. Subsequently, there is the Naxalite problem and regular crimes that happen every day. A legislation has been created to address all of these crimes and legal violations; it addresses each of these instances separately and outlines the punishments for individuals found guilty of any of the listed offenses which is known as the Indian Penal Code.

In its most basic form, the Indian Penal Code is a book that contains all the possible charges and penalties that may be brought against someone who commits a crime. It applies to everybody who is an Indian citizen or has Indian ancestry. The exemption in this case is that no crime committed by members of the armed forces or in the military may be prosecuted under the Indian Penal Code. The Indian Penal Code does not have the authority to replace any of the laws that apply to the armed services or the military. The Indian Penal Code also has the authority to prosecute any offences committed by an Indian citizen aboard an Indian ship or an aircraft that belongs to India.

The British ruled India at the time the Indian Penal Code was first written. It is recognized as having its roots in a British legislative narrative of colonial victories from the year 1860. Under the capable guidance of the Initial Law Commission, the Indian Penal Code's first and most basic draft was created in the 1860s. Lord Macaulay dutifully presided over the commission. In the year 1862, the first criminal code was created. It has undergone several revisions since then in order to integrate numerous adjustments and jurisdiction provisions. Section 498-A is one such amendment. The Indian Penal Code is made up of 511 sections in total. All of these sections deal with a specific type of crime perpetrated by people of Indian descent. Along with multiple parts addressing various categories of criminal laws, there are sections relating to India's jurisdictions and dower laws. Thus, for all members of India's law enforcement and judicial systems, the Indian Penal Code is the most important legal reference.

Definition of Crime

Crime is defined as any act or series of acts that are against the law. Therefore, a person who has acted in a manner that is against the law is considered to be a criminal. A crime is a deliberate act punishable by the state as a felony or misdemeanor, performed without justification or defense, and in violation of the criminal law (statutory and case law). Crime is frequently viewed as a societal issue. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 substitutes the word "offense" for "crime" since there is no adequate definition of crime. A conduct that is criminal by the Code is referred to as an offense in Section 40 of the IPC. An offense can be committed in one of two ways: either by performing the act or by failing to do so. Any member of the public has the right to file a lawsuit against the alleged offender when a crime is committed. Criminal proceedings can only be started on an individual basis in rare circumstances. These offenses include, for instance, dowry, defamation, and matrimonial lawsuits.

Elements of Crime

The following elements are required to be satisfied for an act to constitute a crime −

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

The major piece of legislation governing the administration of procedural criminal law in India is the Code of Criminal Procedure, commonly known as the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). It was passed in 1973 and went into effect on April 1st, 1974. It offers the tools necessary for crime investigation, the capture of suspects, the gathering of evidence, the assessment of an accused person's guilt or innocence, and the decision of the guilty party's punishment. Additionally, it addresses public annoyance, crime prevention, and maintenance of wife, kid, and parent.

The Act now consists of 56 forms, 5 schedules, and 565 sections in 46 chapters.

Classification of Offence under the Ac

Depending on the nature and gravity of an offence it can be classified under any of the following headings

Bailable and Non-Bailable Offence

Crimes that are not extremely serious in nature are known as “bailable offences”

Serious crimes that are not subject to bail are those for which the courts alone have the authority to issue bail. A person who cannot legally request to be released on bail after being detained and arrested for a serious crime is known as a "non-bailable offence."

Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offence

A cognizable offense is one for which a police officer may detain the defendant without a warrant and initiate an inquiry without the judge's approval under the first schedule or any other currently in effect statute.

A non-cognizable offense, the police are prohibited from making an arrest without a warrant and from opening an inquiry without the court's approval. Non-cognizable crimes include such like forgery, cheating, defamation, public disturbance, etc.

Compoundable and Non-Compoundable Offence

Compoundable offenses are those for which the complainant, or victim who brought the case, engages in a compromise and agrees to withdraw the charges against the accused. Such a compromise, nevertheless, must be "bonafide" and should not be made for any benefit to which the plaintiff is not legally entitled.

Crimes that cannot be compounded are known as “non-compoundable offenses”. They can only be put to death. The rationale for this is that the nature of the offense is so serious and unlawful that the Accused cannot be permitted to escape punishment.

Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Evidence law is concerned with the procedures and laws governing the admission and use of evidence in court proceedings. These regulations specify the kinds of evidence that can be presented to a judge or jury during a trial for consideration. Evidence law also deals with the types of objections that might be made to the admission of certain evidence, such as hearsay, evidence that was obtained unlawfully, or a privilege that forbids the admission of the relevant evidence at trial.

Evidence law is concerned with the rules and practices that govern how evidence is accepted and applied in a court of law. Such regulations specify the kind of evidence that a judge or jury in a court may evaluate. According to evidence law a challenge to the admission of such facts may take the form of hearsay, illegally obtained evidence, or a legal presumption that the evidence in issue cannot be admitted in court.

There are a total of 11 chapters in this Act, which are separated into three parts

Part 1

Part 1 discusses how relevant the facts are. The Evidence Act is introduced in the first chapter of this component, which has two chapters total. The second chapter focuses primarily on the relevance of the facts.

Part 2

It contains the chapters from 3-6. The chapter 3 deals with unprovable facts; Chapter 4 deals with oral testimony; Chapter 5 deals with documentary proof; and Chapter 6 deals with situations in which documentary proof has prevailed over oral proof.

Part 3

It consist of Chapters from 7-11. The burden of proof is discussed in Chapter 7. Estoppel is discussed in Chapter 8, witnesses are discussed in Chapter 9, witness examination is discussed in Chapter 10, and inappropriate admission and rejection of evidence are discussed in Chapter 11, which is the last chapter.


Criminal law's primary objective is to protect society from the atrocities perpetrated by criminals and law violators. In order to enable this objective legal system, it threatens potential offenders with penalties and seeks to persuade the actual lawbreaker to accept the assigned penalties. As a result, criminal law encompasses both procedural and substantive aspects in its broadest sense.

The goal of Indian criminal law is to punish criminals and establish a society free from the grip of evil. Even if the current social structure does not adhere to retributive justice, justice nonetheless extends beyond the sufferer to include the entire community. To define the chaos that pervades society, it is critical to accept the necessity of criminal law, or any law for that matter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Who established criminal law in India?

Ans. The criminal law in India was introduced by the first Law Commission of India, and the codification of the Indian Penal Code was submitted by Macaulay in 1837. The code was approved and signed into law in 1860.

Q2. Is Indian Penal Code and criminal law same?

Ans. Criminal law in India is governed by the Criminal Procedure Code of 1974 (CrPC) and the Indian Penal Code of 1860 (IPC). The IPC is India's main criminal law, which defines crimes and lays out penalties for practically all criminal offenses and actionable wrongs.

Q3. What are the four types of laws in India?

Ans. In our legal system, there are four different sorts of laws.

  • Criminal law

  • Civil law

  • Common law

  • Statutory law

Q4. Which type of law is CPC?

Ans. The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, is a procedural law related to the administration of civil proceedings in India.

Q5. Which type of law is Cr.P.C?

Ans. The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) consists principally of procedural laws. The code's objective is to give the tools necessary for offenders to be prosecuted, tried, and punished in accordance with substantive criminal law, including the Indian Penal Code and additional laws occasionally established by the State.

Updated on: 14-Mar-2023


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