What is CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code)?


CrPC is the abbreviation of Criminal Procedure Code. It is a law in India and to understand Criminal Procedure Code you have to first learn “What is a crime?”

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, crime has been defined as ‘A positive or negative act in violation of penal law; an offense against the State’. According to Britannica, crime is defined as an intentional unlawful act that is both prohibited and punishable by law. This includes murder, rape, extortion, kidnapping and so on.  An act of crime is also dependent on the country, time period and government. For example, Attempt to suicide was a punishable offense under the English Law till late 20th Century.

In any country, laws are made to protect the rights of its citizens. Law is of two types:

1. Substantive law

2. Procedural law

To understand “The difference between procedural & substantive law” Please read the linked article.

Similarly, to protect society from criminals & criminal  activities and to provide citizens the right to have a dignified, safe & secure life, criminal laws are enacted .

India has two sets of Criminal law:

1. The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter, IPC) – To understand in detail “What is IPC” Please read the linked article.

2. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter, CrPC)

The CrPC, was first introduced in 1861, but its current form is due to several amendments, especially the Amending Acts of 1923, 1955 and recommendations made by different Law Commissions, especially the 41st Law Commission Report (1969).  It was then re-enacted with all the amendments in 1973 and is now applicable to all the States and UTs of India (except Nagaland and tribal areas of Assam).

Detailed summary of 

– Amending Acts of 1923        

– Amending Acts of 1955        

– 41st Law Commission Report (1969)          

– Amendment of 1973

can be read in these attached articles

The CrPC is a set of procedural laws on the investigation of crime, collection of evidence, the trial of the accused person and the punishment for the guilty person/ persons. In simple words, it specifies the procedures such as “How Investigation of crime should be performed”, “How collection of evidence should be conducted” “How trial of criminal cases should be conducted” and “How punishment or penalty should be imposed on the  accused person”.

Structure of the Act

At present, the act contains 565 sections,[3] 5 schedules and 56 forms. The sections are divided into 46 chapters. Complete bare act of CrPC can be accessed here

CrPC & the Constitution of India

Crimes & their punishment is specified in IPC but it is CrPC which specifies how the trial should be conducted in fair and proper manner. Procedures in CrPC are drafted in such a manner that the trial process does not violate or infringe an individual’s rights, due to which CrPC overlaps with the Constitution of India with many provisions.  An example of this can be seen in  Section 57 of the CrPC, which states that the accused must be produced in front of the nearest Magistrate within 24 hours, which is also stated in Article 22(2) of the Constitution of India.

Even though the CrPC is a set of criminal laws it still has to comply with the fundamental right under Article 21 (Deprivation of an individual’s life or personal liberty) and Article 22 (Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases).

Some of the Examples where CrPC & Constitution can be seen overlapping are as follows – 

The case of D K Basu v State of West Bengal laid down the guidelines as to  how the accused should not be ill-treated under custody and any infringement of the fundamental rights would lead to disciplinary actions on the state authorities. Detailed case summary of D K Basu V State of West Bengal can be accessed here

Article 21 & 39A provides right of Fair Trial & provides for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society and ensures justice for all. It specifies that even though investigation of a crime can only be performed by the police, the Magistrate has an important role to ensure that the entire process from the FIR to the completion of the investigation was fair and just.

Powers of Courts under CrPC

Protection of society from criminal activities is the main purpose of any criminal law. Following the same CrPC provides several powers  to the court with which they can effectively serve the society at  large, such as – Section 193 and 319 of the CrPC states that the court can try the person under a case even if their name is not specified in FIR or Chargesheet, only if  relevant facts against the person(s) are brought to the attention of court, this was laid down in the case of Hardeep Singh v. State of Punjab case. Detailed case summary of Hardeep Singh v. State of Punjab can be accessed here

However, the bare provisions which use the term “may” widen the power of the court while the provisions with the term “shall” mandate the Court to act as per the given guidelines and restrictions in those statutes.