This article is Preeti Bafna pursuing BBA LL.B(Hons.) from Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University. In this article, she has tried to explain the extent and operation of the Indian Penal Code. While understanding the Indian Penal Code 1860 it is important to know about the operation of the Indian Penal Code. The Indian Penal Code is the main criminal code of India. It extends to the whole of India except to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

History of the Indian Penal Code

During the period of British, the Governor-General appointed the “Indian Law Commissioners” to judge the condition of the penal laws prevalent in India and suggest a comprehensive Penal Code. In the year 1834, the First Law Commission was headed by Lord Macauley for drafting the Indian Penal Code. The Draft goes through by various levels of scrutiny and was finally passed and received the Governor General’s assent on 6th October 1860 and came to force on 1st January 1862.

Extent and Operation of Indian Penal Code

Chapter 1 (Sections 1-5) of the Indian Penal Code deals with the extent and operation. According to Section 1 of the Code, the Name of the Code shall be Indian Penal Code and the same shall apply to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir wide Article 370 of the Constitution of India. Every person will be liable to punishment under the Indian Penal Code for every act or omission contrary to the Act and not otherwise.

Section 2 of the Act deals with the Intra Territorial Jurisdiction, i.e. offence committed in India and punished under the Code. To cite the code it must be proven that the offence was committed within the territory of India. The term “Indian Territory” has been defined to include land, water (inland water including the river, canals etc.) and the portions of the sea. 


  • In the case of State of Maharashtra vs. M.H. George (AIR 1965 SC 722), it was held that the foreigner who enters India by accepting the allegiance of Indian laws is also liable for punishment in case an offence is committed under the code and that he cannot take a plea of “ignorance of the law”. 
  • In the case, of R vs. Esop [(1836) 7 ER 203], it was held that no person can take the plea of not being aware of the criminality of the act in the country. 

In this case, the person had contended that unnatural offence was not a criminal act in his land of origin Baghdad and that he was not aware of the fact that the same was a criminal act. Such an argument was negated and the person was convicted.

  • In the case of Mobark Ali vs. State of Bombay (AIR 1957 SC 857), Pakistani citizen made a false representation while in Karachi the complainant in Bombay through letters, phone calls and telegrams which induced the complainant to part with an amount of around Rs. 5 lakhs to the agent of the accused in Bombay so that rice could be shipped from Karachi to Bombay. NO rice was supplied. The accused was caught in England and brought to Bombay where he was prosecuted and convicted under Section 420 for cheating. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction even though the person was physically present in Bombay.

The application of the Act depends upon the place where the offence is committed and not on the place of residence of the offender. So, if a person physically present 

Outside India can commit an offence within India and shall be punishable under the code.  

Section 4 of the IPC defines the application of the code to an offence committed outside India by an Indian citizen and offence committed on a ship or aircraft registered in India. The rationale behind this extension of criminal jurisdiction of the courts is based on the contention that every sovereign state can regulate the conduct of its citizen, where they might be for the time being. Clause 2 of section 4 gives Admiralty jurisdiction to the Indian Courts and the power to try offences committed on any ship or aircraft registered in India. A ship is considered to be a floating island belonging to the country whose flag it is bearing. Thus all the vessels are considered as the part of the territory of the country whose flag they fly.

 Those Officers engaged in the Government services are provided with this benefit as they are serving the nation. Treating them in the same manner as all offenders are treated under the Indian Penal Code may not be right. 

If there are situations where the person has been discharged or dismissed from his duty from the services and he is no longer involved in the service of serving the nation so that the provisions of IPC will be accordingly applicable to such person.

The introductory sections of the code specify that no person shall be discriminated based on his nationality, colour, caste, creed, and rank. If a person has committed an offence which is against the public policy, wrong against the society, he shall be punished under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code.

Exceptions to Applicability of the Act

Section 5 IPC states that the laws as well as provisions of this code which will not apply to the categories which have already existing laws to deal with the respective matters.

Section 5 of the Indian Penal Code, exempts the jurisdiction of IPC in the cases related to the officers engaged in the service of the Government of India. Some of these issues are the desertion of officers, soldiers, sailors or the airmen.

 For example that the issues related to the rebellion against the constituted government and desertions of officers are dealt with the separate laws. In case of any issue that has arisen in the Indian army, to resolve such an issue, there is separate act to solve that issue like Army Act 1950

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