Over the past three decades human rights movements in India have persistently interrogated systems of criminal justice in the country. The concerns have ranged from addressing the problem of arbitrary detention during the emergency to constructing entire communities as criminal thereby justifying forced dispossession and/or mass violence. While overt violence by state actors and their complicity in violence by dominant private actors has been a major concern, there has also been the problem of the abdication by the state with respect to provision of the means for bare life to a majority of the people, the denial of the right to bare life compounding their vulnerability to a repressive rule of law. There is a widespread acceptance of the fact that the law is unequal especially in terms of access to and delivery of justice, inequality of process negating the fundamental guarantee of equality.
This collection of essays re-examines the field of criminology through an interdisciplinary lens, challenging in the process unproblematic assumptions of the rule of law and opening out avenues for a renewed and radical restatement of the contexts of criminal law in India. This collection is a significant step towards mapping the ways in which interdisciplinary research and human rights activism might inform legal praxis more effectively and holistically. The contributors are a diverse group – widely respected activists, bureaucrats, scholars, and professionals – who share concerns on criminal justice systems and the need to entrench human rights in the Indian polity.
Chapter 5: Social Exclusion and Criminal Law
Social Exclusion and Criminal Law
It was in late 19th century under British colonial rule that the Indian Penal Code (IPC) emerged as the uniform criminal law of the country. As stated in its Preamble, the IPC 1860 was intended to provide for a general Penal Code for India. It deals with a wide range of offences grouped together in different chapters, starting with abetment (Chapter V); criminal conspiracy (Chapter VA, added in 1913); of offences, against the State (Chapter VI); relating to army, navy and air force (VII); against public tranquillity (VIII); relating to public servants (IX); elections (IXA, added in 1920); contempt of the lawful authority of public servants (X); false evidence and against public justice (XI); relating to ...