Each society, to work in an orderly and peaceful fashion, requires the adherence to certain social rules of conduct. Any deviant is deemed as an anti-social element and is punished appropriately to force him to adhere to the code of conduct. Scholars define law as a set of rules and regulations that govern the relations of men. whoever does not adhere to these rules is punished. The substantive criminal laws of a country enlist the acts deemed to be criminal and the punishment to be provided for each of such criminal acts.

The Indian Penal Code, 1860 was created by Lord Macaulay to provide for a Penal code for the entire country. The Penal Code lists out the various acts that are deemed criminal and are thereby offences, and also provides for punishments. It constitutes the substantive criminal law of India.

The first draft of the Indian Penal Code was prepared by the First Law Commission. after multiple revisions, the Code finally received the Presidential assent on 6th October, 1860 while it came into force on 1st January, 1862. Of course, there are a number of other laws that provide for various kinds of offences that are not listed in the Indian Penal Code. However, it is the main criminal statute in India.

The Indian Penal Code contains 23 chapters and 511 sections in total. Apart from the explanation, the various kinds of punishments and General Exceptions, the offences are classified under various chapters including the offence of abetment, criminal conspiracy,  offences against the state, those relating to the army, navy, air force, offences against public tranquility, offences relating to  public servants, elections, contempt, false evidence, government stamps and coins, weights an measures, public health, safety, decency and morals, religion, offences against the human body, property, offences relating to marriage, defamation, intimidation, annoyance etc.

In some cases, even attempts to commit offences are punished, while in others, even the stage of preparation to commit offences may be punished, such as in dacoity or in offences against the state.

The IPC has been amended multiple times, the most recent one being in 2013 pertaining to sexual offences after the gruesome gang-rape in Delhi in 2012 when the need for stricter laws was felt.

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