Different Aspects of Transnational Crimes

criminal law


The globalization and industrial revolution in recent times has opened new horizons for many countries, has boomed the trades and economies like one never imagined. The establishment of new economies emerged more and more demand globally thus resulting in suppliers all over the world. With every passing ray of light a darkness is left behind which in this case was the new emergence of crimes beyond human temperament. Diminishing humanitarian grounds and increased hunger to fill pockets has led to transnational crimes all over the globe with an estimated half a trillion dollar market in only illegal exports. Money is the motivator of these crimes ranging from illegal drug trafficking, war crimes, humanitarian crimes viz. organ theft, human and child trafficking, mass genocides, commodity thefts (crude oil, gold), terrorism and counterfeiting or pirating goods. The paradigm of these crimes will continue if not challenged by the concerned authorities impending growing corruption and implementing more and more transparent means of transactions.

War Crimes

The saying “Everything goes in love and war” isn’t very apt when it comes to the domain of law. All the time in history has taught us the war brings destruction on people, economies, countries even the one far from participation. This gives rise to crime rising inhumane nature, war among countries where millions of people lose lives, homes and the catastrophic aftermath. War crimes come into effect when the rules and regulations of a war are overlooked leading to personal liabilities such as killing of civilians or officials or hostages on international grounds, using underage soldiers, destruction of public or personal property, endangering lives of people, rapes etc. Two of the biggest wars viz. World War I and World War II saw the extend to the catastrophic human nature and the extensive war crimes. The 20th century saw the effect of growing recognition of war crimes with the indulging of international law and humanitarian laws. Both these laws talk extensively about crimes based on wars and its effect caused on civilians and countries and why there is a need to regulate it on humanitarian grounds. The ticking time tomb which arose in the 17th century gave arise to various conventions in the 19th century to regulate the war crimes viz. The Hague Convention which was the first formal statements of the crimes involving wars, The Geneva Convention which is a collection of four treaties which laid down the framework of the regulations and rules concerning the war crimes and the most important set of humanitarian laws which are accepted by various countries.

In India war crimes have been seen in various levels from time to time be it The Kashmiri Pandit Exodus in 1990 where the Kashmiri Pandits were asked to convert to Islam or leave the town where they were targeted and their belongings and properties were annihilated without any compensation or justice from the legal system till date to the Gujrat Riots in 2002 where the two communities clashed for days. The most recent example of war crimes can be seen in Delhi in 2020 which was a result of the anti CAA protest resulting to riots on roads, mob lynching and destruction of properties and.

Crime Against Humanity

With the passage of time the inhumane nature is human beings are becoming more and more prevalent. Every other day one can read about an incident that sends chills to one’s spine and are enough for our legal system or the international law to be on their toes in an everchanging laws and regulations. Unlike war crimes crime against humanity can take place at a time of peace as well and are non-isolated acts committed as a part of the systematic policy. They are often uprooted from oppression, hate and envious behaviour towards one’s community and are recognized as a threat to humanity because of their widespread adoption. War crimes include mass murder, slavery, massacres, dehumanization, kidnappings, trafficking, human experiments, extra-judicial punishments, inhumane executions to name a few.

Every country has a separate place in its legal structure where they relate to laws on humanitarian grounds and to keep their nation and its people in check to human rights but crimes against humanity are also prosecuted at international level impending to its broad and mass nature. One such regulatory body is the International Criminal Court which is  a tribunal to prosecute individuals on international levels for crimes of inhumane nature be it. The United Nations are another such council which since its establishment in 1948 is in the primary ambit of prosecuting individuals for crimes concerning humanitarian degrees. The latest judicial establishment came into effect in 1993 as The International Courts and Criminals Tribunal and International Criminal Court in 2002.

In India where diversity is hugely prominent, some rural regions face the cases of mob lynching, murders, kidnappings and rapes in more numbers than in urban states. Although in an interesting turn of event the capital, New Delhi is one of the most unsafe places with an increasing case of child rapes and unnatural carnal intercourses with animals. Section 377 of IPC makes sexual activities against the order of nature to be illegal and term them as unnatural. The need of the hour is to impose more and more strict laws in the nation than depending on the international bodies to prosecute the accused. It is no question that International crimes include greater scrutiny than ever but these crimes that are embedded into the fabric in our nation are to be looked into as an urgent need of the hour. The crimes that a widespread and attract a largen portion of the society also oppresses an even larger population resulting in retaliation in the uproots of the coming generation thus threading these series of violent crimes in our nation from generation to generation.


The Greek interpretation of the word means Genos that is race and Cide which is killing. The United Nations Genocide Convention broadly defines Genocide as Killing, causing bodily harm, calculated injuries and preventing births in a certain group. The aspect of Genocide

arises with a hatred to a particular group arising a conflict be it nationwide, international or even in a peaceful containment. The United Nations Genocide Convention in a legal aspects included two elements in the act to be called a Genocide. The first being Mens Rea or the intent to reason out the act of killing of people and the second being the general act of knowledge where it was known and in knowledge of the commencement of the act. The factor of intent is an important factor to distinguish the act with war crimes and other crimes on humanity.

The three elements that compose such an act is the intend to destroy which related to the persons self believes and self-propaganda of hatred and the intent to cause harm destruction and to eradicate the hatred by performing the acts as expressed in the definition. Another will the concept of partially and fully which signifies the level of the genocide be it in a fraction of a common group or a few groups or it was taken on an extensive level targeting one group or community. The third will be the type of group or groups targeted that brings out the intent and the root to the hatred and the socio-humanitarian reason of the genocide. The groups can be religiously targeted it can be a social cause a racial reason or even an ethnic one.

The biggest example of mass genocide was seen in the Nazi Germany known as “The Holocaust” where Adolf Hitler the then dictator of Germany eradicated two-thirds of European Jewish Population breaking every law possible on the humanitarian grounds. IT started with a series of concentration camps which were opened for other reasons but served as a place to experiment on Jews and to hoard them killing them in numbers. The evasion of Poland and Soviet Union by Germans which triggered the World War II gave Hitler a clean pass to the genocide.

In India a similar example can be seen with the 1984 Sikh genocide. After the killing of Indira Gandhi by their Sikh bodyguards a nation wide message of violence was dispersed. As a result, the Sikh Community was targeted in various parts of India and numerous were killed in very inhumane way. Their homes were looted, pelted with stones and were set to fire as a result of the outburst against the community.


An act to achieve a political viewpoint with the means of violence is refereed as terrorism. Terrorism does not have an accepted definition but it ensures to define what is morally wrong. Terrorism is often differentiated from other activities of violence or other acts against humanitarian grounds as they are done to make political statements and are largely targeted on civilians.

The Indian law prevails in the domain to form an anti-terrorism law in the form of POTA the Prevention of Terrorism Act. This act enables the addressal of unexplainable and unforeseeable situations. Another such act is the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act i.e., TADA which helps in the addressal of the extraordinary situations. These act defines the act with certain elements viz. the act of threat and violence, the act having a political agenda, the act to spread fear and suppression and the act of intentional targeting of civilians to achieve these goals as acts of terrorism. Although these acts have significantly reduced terrorism in India, according to home ministry India still possess a threat to terrorism more than those in other countries. South Asia Terrorism Portal estimations the operation of approximately 180 Terrorist groups and organization in India alone and the number increasing significantly more when the threat are seen from outside India.

Big cities face the major terrorism attacks in India as the most preferred locations are Mumbai and New Delhi. Delhi has seen several bombings in the recent decades with the attack on parliament in 2001, the 2005 and 2011 High court bombing as these places are the hub of high-profile political activities. Mumbai has seen a series of bombings in the last decades with the Terrorist attack of 2008 being the Blackest Hour in our country known as 26/11 killing more than 170 people. Naxalism and small terrorist group are still active in Chhattisgarh and remote parts of India where they carry on these activities. Reports even claim that these groups operating within India are sponsored and by Pakistan to carry on these terrorist attacks in India.

Case Laws

India is yet to frame strict and direct laws on transnational crimes. There are no laws in the Indian Constitution that punishes an individual for the acts of ‘Genocide’ or ‘War Crimes’ or ‘Terrorism’. Several acts, Human Rights and International laws acts only as a substantive remedy. In the case State Through CBI vs Sajjan Kumar And Ors. The convention of the accused happened around after 30 years. The appeals of this case arose after the investigation of CBI into the killings if Five Sikhs and the burning down of the Gurudwara in Raj Nagar district. For more than 2 decades the accused Sajjan Kumar a then political leader in Congress enjoyed political patronage and was sent to trial in around 2010 with five more men. As the investigation progressed five men with Sajjan Kumar were acquitted by the trial court for the offences of armed rioting and murder. The Delhi High Court in a very recent judgement acquitted Sajjan Kumar under Sec 120A and 120B Of IPC for Criminal Conspiracy R/W Sec 302 Murder for the remainder of his life. The other Five men were acquitted for Sec 436 of IPC for the destruction of houses and religious places Sec 153A for promoting enmity among different groups.


Transnational crimes are not only crimes which comes with war and terrorism but they often divulge in the times of peace. Crimes against humanity not only stands offensive on legal grounds but often question the morality of the situation and people as well. War crimes not only question the morality of the political powers but also the destruction it brings to people. Genocide are the results of the hate and despise one sees towards and community and is embedded in the fabric of our system. Terrorism is not only a political act but an act to suppress one and to make a statement and spread terror and chaos. The Court in the view of the mass killings of Sikhs in1984 considered them as crime against humanity but also questions our judicial system which stands tested to this day for these crimes to come in light for more than 20 years. The need of the hour begs for more and more strict and direct laws for these crimes and better remedies to prevent them in the future. Human Rights and International Laws can be a strong enough framework for these rules.


  1. Hague Convention: Series of International Treaties
  2. Geneva Convention: Treaties to establish humanitarian laws in war
  3. United Nations : Organisation to maintain International Peace
  4. CBI vs Sajjan Kumar & Ors : CRL.A. 1099/2013

Author: Harsimran Singh (Vivekananda Institute Of Professional Studies)

Law Library LawBhoomi

Leave a Reply