Indian Penal Code, 1860: Amendments, Composition & Provisions

Indian Penal Code, 1860: Amendments, Composition & Provisions

Indian Penal Code (IPC) or Bhartiya Dand Sanhita (in Hindi) is the official criminal code of India which defines all types of crimes and punishments related to them. It was enacted on 6th October 1860 by the Imperial Legislative Council and adopted by the country on 1st of January 1862. 

It is followed by India and forms the basis of the penal codes of countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma (modern Myanmar), Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), Singapore, modern Malaysia, and Brunei.

The Indian Penal Code is based on the elements of the laws of England, the Napoleonic Code, and Edward Livingston’s Louisiana Civil Code, of 1825. It was drafted by the First Law Commission, chaired by Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1834, and submitted to the Governor-General in 1835. After certain careful revisions, the act was enacted in 1860 and finally adopted in 1862.

Amendments to the Indian Penal Code

Since its adoption, the Indian Penal Code has undergone many amendments that are around 78. It had been followed by the whole nation except for Jammu and Kashmir. The most recent amendment is the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Act, 2019 where the act came into force in Jammu and Kashmir replacing its Ranbir Penal Code.

Composition of the Indian Penal Code

The IPC is composed of 23 chapters and 511 sections which give definitions to the crimes and the penalty for them.

Chapter I- Introduction (Sections 1-5)

This chapter gives the introduction of the IPC with the short titles and the extent of territories where this code is applicable.

Chapter II– General Explanations (Section 6- 52A)

This chapter defines all the terms related to criminal cases which are to be used in the court. They include the definitions of terms such as gender, number, person, public, servant of the government, judge, a court of justice, document, offense, life, death, etc.

Chapter III– Of Punishments (Section 53-75)

This chapter explains the types of punishments which are applicable to the offenders.

Chapter IV– General Exceptions (Section 76-106)

This chapter includes the sections which are considered exceptions that exempt the offenders from punishments such as the criminal act done by a child under the age of 7 years or the act done for self-defense or in good faith, etc.

Chapter V- Of Abetment (Section 107-120)

The chapter explains the abetment, its types, and punishments related to them.

Chapter V(A)– Criminal Conspiracy (Section 120A-120B)

This chapter gives the definition and punishment for criminal conspiracy

Chapter VI– Of Offences Against The State (Section 121-130)

Offenses that threaten the peace of the state are defined in this chapter. They include conspiracy against the state, sedition, etc.

Chapter VII– Of Offence Relating to The Army, Navy, and Air Force (Section 131-140)

This chapter is dedicated to the offenses conducted by and against the personnel of the army, navy, and air force.

Chapter VIII– Of Offences Against The Public Tranquillity (Section 141-160)

Offenses that disturb the public peace such as unlawful assembly, rioting, etc. are defined along with their punishments in this chapter.

Chapter IX– Of Offences by or Relating to Public Servants (Section 161-171)

This chapter elaborates on the offenses conducted by and against any public servant.

Chapter IX(A)– Of Offences Relating to Elections (Section 171A-171{I})

All the offenses and punishments relating to elections are defined in this chapter.

Chapter X– Of Contempts of the Lawful Authority of Public Servants (Section 172-190)

This chapter explains the misconduct in the lawful authority of the public servant.

Chapter XI– Of False Evidence and Offences Against Public Justice (Section 191-229A)

This chapter includes sections that explain offenses and punishments for giving false evidence against public justice.

Chapter XII– Of Offences Relating to Coin and Government Stamps(Section 230-263A)

This chapter is dedicated to explaining the offenses and punishments for counterfeiting government stamps and coins.

Chapter XIII– Of Offences Relating to Weights and Measures(Section 264-267)

In this chapter sections related to the use of fraudulent instruments of weights and measurements are explained which is considered an offense.

Chapter XI– Offences affecting the Public Health, Safety, Convenience, Decency, and Morals (Section 268-294A)

This chapter describes the offenses which may threaten public health, safety, convenience, decency, and morals.

Chapter XV– Of Offences relating to religion(Section 295-298)

This chapter involves sections related to offenses against religion.

Chapter XVI– Offences affecting the Human Body (Section 299-377)

This chapter is the longest one of the IPC which describes the offenses against human beings and the punishment relating to them. It includes hurt, assault, sexual offenses, and murder.

Chapter XVII– Of Offences Against Property (Section 378-462)

All the offenses relating to the property are included in this chapter.

Chapter XVIII– Offences relating to Documents and Property Marks (Section 463-489E)

This chapter includes the definitions and punishments relating to offenses and documents and property marks.

Chapter XIX– Of the Criminal Breach of Contracts of Service (Section 490-492)

Chapter XX– Of Offences Relating to Marriage (Section 493-498)

The offenses related to marriage, such as fraudulent marriage, remarriage, or adultery are included in this chapter.

Chapter XX(A) – Of Cruelty by Husband or Relatives of Husband (Section 498A)

Chapter XXI– Of Defamation (Section 499-502)

This chapter consists of sections that define defamation and explain the punishments related to it.

Chapter XXII– Of Criminal intimidation, Insult, and Annoyance (Section 503-510)

The offense of criminal intimidation. Insults and annoyance of any person are defined along with the punishments explained in this chapter.

Chapter XXIII – Of Attempts to Commit Offence (Section 511)

Important sections of the Indian Penal Code You Should Know

Section 84Act of a person of unsound mind
Section 120 A Definition of Criminal Conspiracy
Section 120 BPunishment of Criminal Conspiracy
Section 121Waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the government of India
Section 121 AConspiracy to commit offenses punishable by section 121
Section 141Unlawful assembly
Section 144Joining unlawful assembly armed with a deadly weapon
Section 191Giving false evidence
Section 192Fabricating false evidence
Section 193Counterfeiting coins
Section 268Public Nuisance
Section 290Punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for
Section 299Culpable homicide
Section 300Murder
Section 302Punishment for Murder
Section 304 ACausing Death by Negligence
Section 304 BDowry Death
Section 307Attempt to murder
Section 309Attempt to commit suicide
Section 319Hurt
Section 324Grievous Hurt
Section 326Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means
Section 326 AVoluntarily causing hurt by acid, etc.
Section 326 BVoluntarily throwing or attempting to throw acid
Section 351Assault
Section 354Assault or criminal force on to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty
Section 354 ASexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment
Section 354 BAssault or use of criminal force to women with intent to disrobe
Section 354 CVoyeurism
Section 354 DStalking
Section 359Kidnapping
Section 362Abduction
Section 375Rape
Section 376Punishment for Rape
Section 376APunishment for causing death or resulting in a persistent vegetative state of victim
Section 376BSexual intercourse by husband upon his wife during separation
Section 376CSexual intercourse by a person in authority
Section 376Dgang rape
Section 376 EPunishment for repeat offenders
Section 377Unnatural offences
Section 378Theft
Section 383Extortion
Section 390Robbery
Section 391Dacoity
Section 415Cheating
Section 417Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property
Section 420Punishment for cheating
Section 441Criminal trespassing
Section 463Forgery
Section 497Adultery
Section 499Defamation
Section 500Punishment for Defamation
Section 509Words, gestures, or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman
Section 511Punishment for attempting to commit offenses punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonments

Provisions of the Indian Penal Code

1. Section 309– Attempt to commit suicide

According to this act, if the person attempts to commit suicide, he is liable to imprisonment of one year. But after the introduction of the Mental Healthcare Act, of 2017, it has been in debates to dissolve the section. According to section 115(1) of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, there is the presumption of severe stress on a person who attempted suicide and such a person is not to be punished under Section 309 IPC. However, section 309 is still in use.

Section 377- Unnatural offenses

According to this section, sexual intercourse between adults of the same sex was punishable. With the advent of time, several voices advocated for the decriminalization of this part which punishes homosexuality. The Supreme Court, finally in the case of Navtej Johar, obliged and decriminalized the portion of this Section which punished consensual acts of this nature.

Section 497– Adultery

According to this section, any person committing the offense of adultery is punishable according to the law. However, later it was criticized for treating a woman as the private property of her husband and imposing moral principles on married couples. This Section was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in September 2018 while disposing of the case of Joseph Shine vs Union of India. 


Indian Penal Code is one of the foundation pillars of the criminal justice system. It defines all the criminal acts conducted against human beings, property, the public, defense personnel, and the state. It also encloses the punishments and penalties in the form of imprisonment or fine or both.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *