The Indian Penal Code, 1860 is the country’s criminal code. It specifies numerous actions that are regarded as crimes, their extent, and character, as well as the penalties and punishments assessed for them. The IPC is a comprehensive criminal code that includes all aspects of criminal law. In contrast to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), it simply specifies the various offences and their penalties. The IPC covers the whole country of India. It is split into 23 chapters and has 511 parts. The goal of the IPC was to have the same criminal law applied throughout the country so that there were no discrepancies. It has been updated several times to keep up with the times.
Background on IPC drafting
The Indian Penal Law, the official criminal code of India, was created in 1860 on the recommendation of the First Law Commission, 1834, under the Charter Act, 1830. Lord Macaulay, who came to India as a Law-Member of the Governor-General Council, presided over the panel. The India Penal Code was established in 1862, during the era of the British Raj, however, it did not apply to the Princely States because they had their legal elements and laws that they followed. However, the Ranbir Penal Code was abolished on October 31, 2019, following the passing of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill, 2019.
The IPC was regarded as Lord Macaulay’s masterwork and is the most widely used criminal law.
It strives for perfection in its language, breadth, and accessibility. He indicated that if necessary, this code will be revised and new laws and changes would be enacted to keep up over time.
IPC must be redesigned.
Laws must develop in response to changes in society, people’s viewpoints, and the type of crimes. Although the Indian Penal Code, adopted in 1860, was ahead of its time and has been in force in India for a century and a half, it has not kept up with the developments. The Act enacted by the British to suit their requirements and aims has failed to serve the people in current times. It is based on the British colonial mentality toward India. Thus, a rewrite of the IPC is necessary to transfer authority from rulers to the people. The IPC must be restructured since many of its provisions have become obsolete as a result of shifting economic and technical advancements.
The IPC is founded on the dominant deterrent theory at the time, but criminal law must change from the deterrent or distributive theory to the reformative philosophy of punishment. Some of the modifications that should be done are:-
- Section 375: Rape must be defined in a gender-neutral manner. Section 375 of the IPC excludes males, hijras, and boys from the definition of rape victims, and solely considers women to be victims of rape.
- Section 124A: The British placed sedition under Section 124 A of the IPC in 1898 to control uprisings against them and to repress independence movements. However, in recent years, this clause has been often abused against anyone who opposes the administration.
- The sanctions outlined in Chapter 3 are quite conservative. It only allows for jail or a fine. There is no mention of community service or any attempt to reform the offender.
- Section 57: The number of years of life imprisonment as a punishment is at the discretion of the court. It is largely dependent on the nature of the crime committed. However, the calculation of fractions of penalty is set for 20 years. This takes away a judge’s discretionary power, and disagreements occur when deciding how to punish.
- Section 294: Section 294 makes it a crime to irritate someone by engaging in any indecent act in public places. However, the term “obscene” is not defined in the Act, and it is frequently abused by the police.
Laws which should be introduced
- Crimes like mob lynching, financial crimes, white-collar crimes, economic crimes, and so on have not received enough recognition under the IPC.
- There is also unequal punishment for crimes causing great bodily harm. For example, a chain-snatching event can be life-threatening, but under the IPC, this is not taken into account, and no commensurate penalty is imposed. Depending on the police, it is classified as robbery or theft.
- As a result, the IPC must be updated to harmonize punishment
- The proposals of the state should be considered. Legal scholars could also conduct surveys to discover new offences that need to be introduced as well as current offences that need to be amended.
- Laws that are obsolete and no longer applicable in today’s world should be recognized, and empirical studies should be conducted on the subject. Problems with the provisions’ enforceability should also be investigated.
- In India, the rate of sexual offences is quite high. Despite the multiple modifications, the legislation contains numerous loopholes. Given this, a separate chapter dealing with the numerous sexual offences and their punishments can be written.
- Illustrations supplied with various parts are now completely out of date by today’s standards. They were important before the development of case law, thus the necessity to replace them is crucial.
- The chapters of the IPC can also be categorized according to the type of responsibility, such as light, moderate, or substantial liability.
- Separate chapters on cyber laws, economic offences, and so on should be included in the IPC to minimize duplication and misunderstanding.