Criminal Law is the body of law that relates to crime. It regulates social conduct and prescribes whatever is threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property, health, safety, and moral welfare of people. It includes the punishment of people who violate these laws. Criminal law varies according to jurisdiction, and differs from civil law, where emphasis in more on dispute resolution and victim compensation than on punishment.

A ‘crime’ is an unlawful act or omission, which is an offence against the public and renders the person liable for legal punishment.

Criminal Law in India:

There are three primary laws that deal with criminal matters in India. They can be classified into substantive and procedural laws.

A substantive law is one which defines our rights and liabilities. A procedural law is one which provides us the procedure to enforce rights given to us by the substantive law.

The Indian Penal Code(IPC), a substantive law, defines the acts which are crimes and the punishment for such crimes.

The Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC), a procedural law, describes the procedure for prosecution of such crimes in the form of investigation, trial etc.

The Indian Evidence Act describes what material can be used as evidence to prove a fact.

Salient Features of the IPC:

  1. IPC applies to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
  2. IPC came into force on January 1, 1862.
  3. IPC applies to any offence committed by an Indian citizen anywhere and on any ship or aircraft registered in India.

Difference between ‘Tort’ and ‘Crime’ :

  1. Nature of Act – A crime is considered as a wrong against the society, even though a single individual may be affected. A tort is considered as a wrong against that specific victim. Thus, crime is of a more serious or grave nature than tort.
  2. Nature of Proceedings – A crime is an action by the State on behalf of the victim. A tort is a ‘civil wrong’ i.e., the victim herself initiates action against the tortfeasor.

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