Brief Analysis of Section 71 of the Indian Penal Code
The Indian Penal Code, which is the official criminal code covering all
aspects of criminal law, was enacted in 1860 by the Imperial Legislative
Council. There are a total of 576 sections in IPC. Section 71 seeks to limit the
punishment of an offence, which is made up of several offences. It states-
71. Limit of punishment of offence made up of several offences:
Where anything which is an offence is made up of parts, any of which parts is
itself an offence, the offender shall not be punished with the punishment of
more than one of such his offences, unless it be so expressly provided. 1[Where
anything is an offence falling within two or more separate definitions of any
law in force for the time being by which offences are defined or punished, or
where several acts, of which one or more than one would by itself or themselves
constitute an offence, constitute, when combined, a different offence, the
offender shall not be punished with a more severe punishment than the Court
which tries him could award for any one of such offences.]
To explain further in the simplest terms possible, the section deals with an
offence which constitutes many parts and every such part can be defined as an
offence under different definitions available in the wide spectrum of law and
says that in such a case- the offender should only be charged with only one of
such offences, unless expressly provided otherwise. The Section also talks about
a possibility wherein the offence committed by the offender may fall under two
or more definitions of law, or parts of offence may be combined to constitute a
different offence and in such a scenario- the Court trying the offender is not
empowered to award a punishment more severe than what it is competent of
awarding. This provision of the IPC can be read with Section 31 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure, which provides a structure for the sentencing of offenders
who have been convicted of several offences at one trial.
One day, Mr. X spots Ms. A crossing his house and he instantly approaches her
because he’s attracted to her. He makes sexual advances by flirting aggressively
and is enraged when she retaliates by slapping him. Later that day, he buys a
gun illegally because he plans to find an opportunity to hurt her grievously.
Over the next few days, he follows her to her place of work and stands outside
her house for hours. He deliberately tries to make her aware of his presence,
and tries to show her subtly that he’s in possession of a gun.
Tired of being scared every day, Ms. B yells at him when she notices him lurking
and insults him using crude language. Insulted by her again, next day he decides
to enter Ms. B’s house and wait for her to come home. When she does come home,
he grabs hold of her by her neck and proceeds to strangle her and punches her
multiple times. He then takes a big knife from her kitchen, and stabs her over
20 times and shoots her twice, killing her instantly.
In this case, Mr. X is liable under several sections and this crime is made up
of many parts. At first, he sexually harasses her by making sexually coloured
remarks which is covered under Section 354A of IPC. He buys an illegal weapon,
and then stalks her for several days in hopes of fostering a connection even
after portrayal of her disinterest, which is covered under Section 354D of IPC.
He’s liable under Section 445 of IPC for breaking and entering, and under
Section 350 of IPC for battery as he punched her. He’s also liable for Murder
under Section 302 of IPC.
However, when the Court is approached with this case, it will be in its power to
make Mr. X liable for his numerous crimes but it will NOT be empowered to
convict Mr. X for each of the 20 stabs and the 2 gunshots he inflicted on Ms. B,
but the offence will be treated as one in its entirety instead of each stab and
shot being treated as a separate offence, and he’ll be convicted for the same.
Here, the offense of buying an illegal weapon and using it to murder Ms. B can
be combined with the actual murder to form a conspiracy to commit murder, BUT
the Court shall NOT inflict a punishment more severe than it is empowered to
In conclusion, Section 71 is a good safeguard to ensure offenders get punished
for their crime within reason, and sets a limit of punishment for an offence
made up of several offences.
Law Article in India
You May Like
Legal Question & Answers