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Report No. 42

Chapter 2

General Explanations

2.1. Section .-omission recommended.-

Chapter II begins with a provision to the effect that every definition of an offence, penal provision and illustration shall be understood subject to the general exceptions contained in Chapter IV. Such a provision is hardly necessary as every relevant section in Chapter IV begins with the words "Nothing is an offence" which are sufficient to indicate that every provision of the Code relating to offences has to be read together with and subject to all relevant exceptions contained in that Chapter. Section 6 may therefore be omitted.

2.2. Application of General Clauses Act to the Code.-

Neither the definitions nor the general rules of construction contained in the General Clauses Act, 1897, are applicable to the Indian Penal Code except to a very limited extent. The result is that there is an appreciable amount of overlapping between those rules and definitions and the definitions and general explanations contained in Chapter II of the Code. It is desirable to remove this duplication as far as possible by providing expressly that the General Clauses Act shall apply for the interpretation of the Code. If this is done, a number of sections in Chapter II of the Code can be omitted. We propose that in lieu of section 6 the following section may be inserted as the first section in Chapter II.-

"6. General Clauses Act to apply for interpretation.- The General Clauses Act, 1897, shall apply for the interpretation of this Code as it applies for the interpretation of an Act of Parliament."

2.3. Section 7.-

Section 7 states that "every expression which is explained in any part of this Code, is used in every part of this Code in conformity with the explanation." This explanation itself may, at first sight, seem to be unnecessary in view of the well-known principle of interpretation that words and phrases1 should be given the same meaning throughout an Act. But is useful in a few instances. For example, the definition of "election" given in section 21, Explanation 3, would, by its own force, apply only in deciding whether a person is a public servant or not, yet by virtue of section Tit is applicable to the whole of Chapter IXA dealing with election offences. It appears desirable therefore to retain section 7.

1. Maxwell, Interpretation of Statutes (1962), p. 311.

2.4. Section 8 and .-omission recommended.-

Section 8 and 9 contain rules of construction as to gender and number which are the same as those found in section 13 of the General Clauses Act, 1897. Those two sections may accordingly be omitted.

2.5. Section 10.-

The definitions of "man" and "woman" in section 10 as denoting a male/female human being of any age appear to be useful for removing any doubts as to the applicability of provisions of the Code in relation to children and infants of either sex. Thus with reference to the offence of assaulting a woman with intent to outrage her modesty (section 354), this definition of "woman" has been held by the Supreme Courts to be applicable in a case where the criminal force was used to a female infant of 71-2 months. The Court by a majority considered it unnecessary that the woman must be of such an age as to feel the outrage to her modesty. Though a child may not have developed any sense of shame and has no awareness of sex, nevertheless from her very birth she possesses the modesty which is the attribute of her sex. Sarkar C.J. did not agree with this view. While we shall advert to this point later2 in the Report, the definitions in section 10 do not require any change.

1. State of Punjab v. Major Singh, 1966 (Suppl ) SCR 286: AIR 1967 SC 63; an appeal from AIR 1963 Punj 443 (Mudholkar and Bachawat JJ. with Sarkar C.J. dissenting):

2. See paras. 16.85 and 16.86.

2.6. Section 1.-omission recommended.-

Section 11 defines the word "person" as including any company or association or body of persons, whether incorporated or not. As an almost identical definition is to be found in the General Clauses Act1, this section may be omitted.

1. See section 3(42).

2.7. Section 12.-

Section 12 defining the word "public" as including any class of the public or any community does not require any change.

2.8. Section 1.-omission recommended.-

Section 14 defines "servant of the Government" as any officer or servant, continued, appointed or employed in India by or under the authority of Government, but this expression does not now occur in any other section of the Code. (Before 1950, the expression "servant of the Queen" occurred in section 4 and the definition in section 14 was of use.). The section may, therefore, be omitted.

2.9. Section 1.-omission recommended.-

As the word "Government" is defined in section 3(23) of the General Clauses Act, another definition in the Penal Code is unnecessary, and section 17 may be omitted.

2.10. Section 18.-

Section 18 defines "India" as meaning the territory of India excluding the State of Jammu and Kashmir. We have indicated in the previous Chapter the need to amend this definition to make it clear that the Code "extends" to the territorial waters of India is exactly the same manner as it extends to the land territory and internal waters of India. We recommend that section 18 may be amended to read.-

"18. 'India' means the territory of India including territorial waters, but does not include the territory of Jammu and Kashmir."

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