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This article is written by Naveen Prabhat Singh of 1st Year of Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University) New Law College, Pune, an intern under Legal Vidhiya


This article focuses on the nature and extent of crime in India ranging from place to place and by different classes of people living in the same society. This article is written by using a mixed-method approach that combines theoretical data with surveys and interviews across the country. This will provide a comprehensive understanding about criminal behaviour in the Indian context. The findings of this article indicate a significant rise in modern-day crimes like cybercrime and economic offenses like fraud, alongside persistent challenges in addressing the violent crime prevalent from a very long period of time like theft, robbery, assault and murder. These findings advocate for a multifaceted approach to crime for protection and policy making with enhanced cybersecurity measures with advanced policing technologies. There should be a standardized national framework to deal with such crimes in India to address such crimes in India. The article also underscores the urgency of reforming to address the new crimes like cybersecurity and economic offenses. This comprehensive analysis is not important only for academic discourse on crime in India but also aims to make a society safer and more just.


Crime, Indian Penal Code, Jurisprudence, Stages, Types, National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), White-Collar crimes, Organised crimes, Crime against Vulnerable, Cybercrime.


India is known not only for its rich culture and tradition but also for its rich legal history and governance. The evolution of the Indian legal system can be traced back to the era of Manu smriti, Arthasastra and Yajnavalkya Smriti which outlines the principle of justice and punishment.[1] The main legislation governing the criminal law in India is Indian Penal Code 1860, which was adopted during the British colonial rule. Although, since independence, the Indian legal system has undergone various reforms. Sir William Blackstone had given two definitions of crime. In his first definition he defined, crime as “an act of committed or omitted in violation of public law forbidding or commanding it”[2]. Due to certain inadequacy of his first definition of crime, he again defined crime in his second definition he defined crime as a violation of the public rights and duties due to the whole community considered as a community. Sergeant Stephen, while editing Blackstone’s definition of crime and reconstructed it as A crime is a violation of a right, considered in reference to the evil tendency of such violation as regards the community at large. So, it is evident from all these definitions given by various great scholars that any one definition of crime cannot be made universal due to its evolving nature and different perspective of people. Although an extensive and descriptive differentia of crime was given by Jerome Hall. These are- Harm to Social Interests, the harm must be prohibited by penal laws, there must be some conduct, there must be mens rea i.e.., criminal intent, there must be concurrence of mens rea and conduct, there must be causal relation between harm and conduct and there must be legally prescribed punishment or threat of punishment.[3] The different types of crime in India are-

  1. Crime against human body and life- Assault, Battery, Murder etc.
  2. Crime against property- Theft, Robbery, Dacoity etc.
  3. Crime against public place and order- Treason, Sedition, Disturbance of public peace etc.
  4. Crime against the family- Bigamy, Adultery, Neglect of Children, Desertion of family.
  5. Crime against morals- Sodomy, Obscenity, Corruption of Public morals and Cohabitation with a close relative.[4]

According to Section 40 of Indian Penal Code, anything which is punishable by the IPC can be stated as an offense. The Code of Criminal Procedure 1908 also defines criminal offense as any act or omission which is punishable by any law in force, and also any act on which a complaint is made under Section 20 of the Cattle-Trespass, Act 1871, can be referred to as a crime. The concept of crime is dynamic in nature and it always changes from time to time. An act, which is a crime today, may not be a crime tomorrow, if the legislature so decides. For example, polygamy, dowry, and untouchability are now crimes that were not so a few years ago. There are four stages of Crime. The first stage is Intention, law does not take into account intention so, this stage is not punishable and does not constitute an offense. The next stage of crime is preparation, Preparation is the arranging of all the essential steps to carry out the intended criminal act. Preparation is not unlawful in itself since it is difficult to prove that the essential preparations were made for the commission of the crime. But, in some exceptional circumstances, only preparation is also punished. The third stage of crime is Attempt. The term attempt means direct movement towards the commission of a crime after necessary preparations made to carry out an offence. The fourth and last state of crime is accomplishment. Committing the crime is the final step in the process. If the accused succeeds in his attempt, he commits a crime and will be guilty of it. If one fails, he/she will only be charged with attempting. If the crime is complete, the offender will be tried and punished as per the specific provisions provided in the Indian Penal Code.[5]

The Nature of Crime in India

The Nature of Crime in India requires a holistic approach that takes into account various dimensions like socio-economic, cultural, technological and institutional dimensions. The nature of crime can be described as follow-

  • Organized Crime-

Organized crime refers to criminal activities that are structured, coordinated and organized for the purpose of generating profits over a specific industry or market. Organized crime includes Drug Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Arms Trafficking, Money Laundering, Cybercrime, etc. They possess a significant challenge to law enforcement agencies and security worldwide. The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) is the main treaty to combat organized crimes worldwide.

  • Cybersecurity related Crimes

India is in the phase of digitalisation going through various challenges associated with this digital world. Many cybercrimes such as data breach, ransom attacks, online scams, etc are some of the major threats to the country. Rapidly growing digital infrastructure does not hold only benefits for the society but there are some associated threats with it which should be taken care to prevent such crimes. According to the report “Crime in India” released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 65,893 cyber crimes were registered in 2023.

  • Crime related to property

Property related crimes are those crimes which involve private property and these are high volume crimes which are done to obtain money, property or some other benefit. Arson, Burglary, Dacoity, Extortion, Theft, Robbery and Vandalism are some examples of Property related crimes. These crimes are more penal as compared to civil cases in nature. The main reason behind such crime is socio-economic irregularities between members of the society.

  • Crime related to family or Domestic Crimes

Family disputes and Domestic crime includes Domestic Violence, Dowry related offenses, Threatening suicide etc are some of the examples of crime related to family or domestic crime. According to a report produced by National Family Health Survey (NFHS), around 29% of married Indian women between the age of 18 and 49 have experienced domestic violence. There are also many instances of such crimes that never make it to the police to prevent the so-called pride and honour of the person or family. The cause of such crime is dependence of other family members on the other member of the family for the sake of financial assistance which creates dominance of that member in the family.

  • Offences against the Sovereignty

Any act of the person or another state which is fitted to cause threat to the sovereignty of the state can be termed as the offense against the Sovereignty. It is one of the oldest crimes. Seditions and Treason are examples of such crime. Treason means an attempt to cause harm to your country. Sedition means promotion of discontent against the government or leader through slanderous use of language.

  • White-collar Crimes

White-collar crimes are those crimes which are generally non-violent in nature and done by business and government professionals. Public corruption, Bribery, Fraud and Money Laundering are some examples of white-collar crimes. Although, white collar crimes are non-violent in nature, their impact is very detrimental for society. The primary motive behind White-collar crime is financial benefits. The government should implement stringent policies to control such nature of crime.

  • Honour crime or Shame-killing

Honour crimes are those crimes or incidents committed to protect honour of family or community, it is usually done by male members of the family or community against female family members who are alleged to have brought dishonour into the family. Although such incidents are more in Northern states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana, the cases are increasing in the southern states like Karnataka and Kerala too as per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

  • Crime against Women and Children

Women and children are considered more vulnerable towards crime and exploitation. Section 509 of IPC defines crime against women. Section 509 of India Penal Code states that whoever intends to insult the modesty of any women, utter any word, makes any sound and gesture or exhibits any object which intrudes upon the privacy of such women shall be punished with imprisonment for 3 years and fine. This section states both crime and punishment for crime. There are some special legislations to deal with crime against women and children for example The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 is there for children and The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is there for women.

Case Laws

State of Maharashtra v. Mayer Hans George (1965)

In this case, the Supreme Court of India elucidated the principle of ‘mens rea’ (guilty mind) in criminal law. The case involved the prosecution of Mayer Hans George, who was charged with possessing narcotic drugs under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. The appellant argued that he was not aware of the presence of the drugs in his possession and therefore lacked the necessary intent to commit the crime.The Supreme Court, in its judgment, reaffirmed the fundamental principle that in criminal law, there must be a guilty mind accompanying the guilty act for an individual to be held criminally liable. The court emphasized that mens rea is an essential element of most criminal offenses, and the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had the requisite mental state to commit the crime.[6]

State of Madhya Pradesh v. Shobharam:

 This case dealt with the concept of ‘actus reus’ (guilty act) in criminal law. The Supreme Court held that for an act to be considered criminal, it must involve some voluntary bodily movement. Mere knowledge or intention without any physical act does not constitute a crime.[7]

Concerned Agency

  • The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) is the government agency responsible for collecting and analyzing crime data in India. NCRB is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Government of India.
  • It was created in 1986 based on the recommendations of Tandon Committee with the objective to provide Indian Police with Information Technology and Criminal Intelligence to enable them to uphold the law and protect people.
  • NCRB creates and maintains a secure sharable National Database on crimes and criminals for law enforcement agencies.
  • As per National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB)’s Crime in India 2022 report, around 58,00,000 cognizable crimes were registered consisting of both Indian Penal Code and Special & Local Laws (SLL) crimes.
  • NCRB classifies crime as Cyber Crimes, Suicides and Caused, Crime against SCs and STs, Crime against Women, Crime against senior citizens, Animal attacks, Environmental Crimes, Economic Crime, Crime against state etc.
  • The NCRB has four divisions: Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and systems (CCTNS), Crime Statistics, Finger Prints and Training.[8]


This research article provided a comprehensive examination on the nature and extent of crime in India ranging from organized crimes to various other crimes like Crime against Property, Crime against women and children, White-Collar crimes, etc. The role of National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) in creating and maintaining the records of crimes. There is an urgent need to Strengthen the law enforcement agencies to prevent new crimes of the digital era. The traditional law needs to be altered with the needs of current society. The legislation governing crime in India is quite sophisticated which enables the criminals to abscond easily when it lacks evidence. So, a country like India needs to implement evidence-based interventions and targeted programs to address such norms of crime. There are three different legislation deals with Crime related matters in India i..e, Indian Penal Code, 1860, Criminal Procedure Code of 1973 and Indian Evidence Act of 1872. There are many other legislations that govern special crimes like MVA, NDPS, PMLA etc. The county needs to prioritize the protection of human rights by spreading awareness about human rights especially for the vulnerable and marginalized populations. This will need a collective approach by fostering collaboration and partnership between government agencies, civil society organizations, communities and international stakeholders to coordinate responses and share best possible interests.


  1. P S A Pillai, Criminal Law, Page no. 15, 15th Edition, LexisNexis 2023
  2. Professor KD Gaur, Criminal Law-Cases and Materials, Ninth Edition, LexisNexis 2019
  3. Vol. 4, Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Law of England, Page no. 5, 1830
  4. Jerome Hall, General Principals of Criminal law, 2nd Edn, Bobbs-Merill, New York, 1960, pp 14-26
  5. Volume 1, R P Kathuria, Supreme Court on Criminal Law, 10th Edition, LexisNexis 2018
  6. Dristi Judiciary, https://www.drishtijudiciary.com/to-the-point/ttp-indian-penal-code/elements-and-stages-of-crime , 18th April 2024
  7. State of Maharashtra v. Mayer Hans George, 1965 AIR  722 1965 SCR (1) 123
  8. State of Madhya Pradesh v. Shobharam, AIR 1966 SUPREME COURT 1910, 1967 2 SCJ 33, 1967 JABLJ 983, 1966 2 SCWR 192, 1966 MAH LJ 913, 1966 MPLJ 961, MADLJ(CRI) 487
  9. Drisitiias, https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-analysis/ncrbs-crime-in-india-2022-report, 18th April 2024.

[1] P S A Pillai, Criminal Law, Page no. 15, 15th Edition, LexisNexis 2023

[2]  Vol. 4, Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Law of England, Page no. 5, 1830

[3] Jerome Hall, General Principles of Criminal law, 2nd Edn, Bobbs-Merill, New York, 1960, pp 14-26

[4] P S A Pillai, Criminal Law, Page no. 5-6, 15th Edition, LexisNexis 2023

[5]  Dristi Judiciary, https://www.drishtijudiciary.com/to-the-point/ttp-indian-penal-code/elements-and-stages-of-crime , 18th April 2024

[6] State of Maharashtra v. Mayer Hans George, 1965 AIR  722 1965 SCR (1) 123

[7] State of Madhya Pradesh v. Shobharam, AIR 1966 SUPREME COURT 1910, 1967 2 SCJ 33, 1967 JABLJ 983, 1966 2 SCWR 192, 1966 MAH LJ 913, 1966 MPLJ 961, MADLJ(CRI) 487

[8] Drisitiias, https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-analysis/ncrbs-crime-in-india-2022-report, 18th April 2024.

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