What is the difference between IPC and CrPC?

What is the difference between IPC[1] and CrPC[2]?

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2018, India registered more than 50 lakh criminal cases. It is vital for the citizens of any country to know the laws and understand the differences between their applications. The maxim: Ignorantia Juris Non-excusat (Ignorance of the law is not an excuse) is embedded in the Indian Penal Code. Ignorance of Law or lack of knowledge does not stand as a defence in the court of law. India, as a country has more than 1200 laws in existence. However, crimes in India are regulated by:

  1. Indian Penal Code, 1862
  2. Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
  3. Indian Evidence Act, 1872


The criminal justice system in India is divided into two parts:

  1. First Part: Substantive Criminal Laws

These laws provide for the punishments for the offenders by the extent of the crime committed.


  1. Second Part: Procedural Law

This law provides a process for establishing the offenders’ guilt and imposing the punishment prescribed under the substantive criminal laws.

  • The Indian Penal Code, 1862

The Code is the country’s primary criminal Code and was drafted during the British Raj in the year 1850 and was presented to the then Legislative Council in the year 1856. It came into force on 01st January 1862.

The Code covers various offences (divided into multiple categories) and the related punishments for the said crimes. For instance, Crimes against the body (Murder, kidnapping, Culpable homicide, etc.), Crimes against property (theft, dacoity, etc.), Economic crimes (Cheating and Counterfeiting) and various other crimes.

  • Criminal Procedure Code, 1973

The Code is the procedural law which provides a detailed procedure for punishments under the penal laws. It thereby enforces and administers the Indian Penal Code and various other substantive criminal laws. The Parliament enacted the Code on 25th January 1974 to consolidate and amend the law relating to Criminal Procedure.

The Criminal Procedure Code is read along with the Indian Penal Code, 1862 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. There often exists a state of perplexity concerning the difference between the Indian Penal Code, 1862 and the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Let us now look at the differences between the two legislations.


Difference between the Indian Penal Code, 1862 and Criminal Procedure Code, 1973

  1. The Indian Penal Code is a substantive law[3], whereas the Criminal Procedure Code is procedural law.[4]
  2. The Indian Penal Code states various crimes and classifies them into multiple categories. The Code also prescribes the penalties and the punishment for the respective offences. On the other hand, the Criminal Procedure Code defines the procedure that the police take to investigate any violation after having committed any crime mentioned under the penal laws.
  3. The Indian Penal Code aims to provide a primary penal code in the country for giving punishment to the wrongdoers. On the other hand, the Criminal Procedure Code’s main motive is to provide for binding procedures that must be enacted during the administration of a criminal trial.
  4. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 provides for the courts and Magistrate’s powers, while the Indian Penal Code does not.

Let us now take an example to understand the difference between the legislations better.

Izzie to kill Mathew enters his house and murders him by hitting him with a hammer and slitting his throat. Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 defines ‘Murder.’ And Section 302 of the Code prescribes the punishment for the said crime. The section specifies that any person who commits the act will be punished with death or life imprisonment.

How will Izzie be punished for the crime committed?

Murder is a non-bailable and cognizable offence. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 thus specifies a procedure to be followed to determine the offender’s guilt, whether or not bail will be granted, evidence to be taken into account, trial, investigation and impose the individual penalty.


The three primary legislation governing criminal law in India: Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act continue to play an essential role in the courts of law for the effective execution and justice administration. Due to the rise in crimes and criminals, it becomes vital for all citizens to learn the country’s primary criminal laws’ fundamental differences.

[1]The full form of IPC is Indian Penal Code

[2] The full form of CrPC is Criminal Procedure Code

[3] Substantive laws refer to those laws that define individuals’ rights and duties and the respective punishment and organizations.

[4] Procedural Laws include those rules that govern the process of determining individuals and organizations’ duties and rights.