Criminal law refers to a body of laws that apply to criminal acts. In instances where an individual fails to adhere to a particular criminal statute, he or she commits a criminal act by breaking the law. Criminal Law is a very popular law specialisation. Criminal Law includes the rules, statutes and regulations that define conduct which is prohibited by the law because it threatens as well as harms public safety and welfare. Criminal Law also lays down a punishment that can be imposed on an individual or group of people break any law.
In India, crime is an offense against the State. The law has given a massive status to crimes, so much so that punishments could range from fines to the death penalty. Crime is against the welfare of society, and therefore, there are many legislations against the same in our country. The prominent ones include the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Besides these significant acts, there are acts such as the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, the Narcotics drugs, and psychotropic substances Act, 1985, etc.
The 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 law for the country. It has 511 sections across 23 chapters, containing the list of crimes along with their definitions and punishments. The IPC has been amended several times and is now supplemented by other Acts. Its jurisdiction extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)
The Code of Criminal Procedure is the primary legislation on the procedure for the regulation of criminal law in India. The CrPC details the procedure for the investigation of the crime, presenting criminals before the court of law, collection of evidence, determination of guilt or innocence of the accused, imposition of penalties or punishments, etc. It further lays down the hierarchy of the courts competent to try criminal lawsuits. In descending order it is the High Court at the top followed by Sessions Court, First Class Judicial Magistrate, Second Class Judicial Magistrate and Executive Magistrate. There is a limit affixed for sentences which these courts can pass against the accused. The Supreme Court is the apex court, and it has the ultimate power. The code was enacted in 1973. At present, the CrPC contains 484 sections cut across 37 chapters. It also has two schedules and 56 forms.
The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 contains a set of rules and allied issues which governs the admissibility of evidence in the law courts of India. It comprises 167 sections cut across 11 chapters. Types of evidence mentioned under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 includes – Oral evidence, documentary evidence, primary evidence, secondary evidence, real evidence, hearsay evidence, judicial evidence, non-judicial evidence, direct evidence, and indirect evidence or circumstantial evidence.