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Section 1 of the Indian Penal Code outlines the scope and application of the law, stating that it applies to the entire country of India, including the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. This includes all states, union territories and any other territories that may come under Indian jurisdiction.

Intra-territorial Jurisdiction & Extra-territorial Jurisdiction under IPC

In terms of jurisdiction, Section 2 of the IPC establishes that it applies to all individuals for any action that violates its provisions within Indian territory. Sections 3 and 4, on the other hand, provide extraterritorial jurisdiction, allowing individuals to be held accountable for any offences committed outside of India’s borders.

Intra-territorial Jurisdiction under IPC

Section 2 of the Indian Penal Code establishes that any person who violates the provisions of the code by committing an act or failing to do so is subject to punishment, regardless of nationality, rank, caste or creed. The section applies to all wrongdoers within the Indian territory, meaning that foreigners cannot claim ignorance of Indian law for committing a crime within the country.

Section 2 of the Indian Penal Code applies to every person who commits an act or omits to do an act within the Indian territory in violation of the code’s provisions. This includes foreign nationals who enter India and those who instigate an offence outside the territory of India but it is committed within India. The court has held that physical presence is not necessary for liability under the code. 

Corporations, including unincorporated entities, can also be held liable for criminal acts or omissions by their agents. 

The state can also be held responsible for the wrongful acts or omissions of its agents.

In Mobarik Ali v. The State of Bombay, a Pakistani national was held liable for an offence in Bombay despite not being physically present at the time of commission, while in the State of Maharashtra v. Mayer Hans George, a foreigner was held liable for an offence under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973 upon landing in India. In State of Maharashtra v. Syndicate Transport Company, a company was held liable for the criminal act of its director, authorized agent or servants, while in Superintendent and Remembrancer of Legal Affairs, West Bengal v. Corporation of Calcutta, the state was held responsible for the wrongful acts or omissions of its agent.

However, there are exceptions to the universal application of the code and certain classes of people are exempt from criminal liability. These include foreign sovereigns, diplomats, enemy aliens, foreign armies and warships, as well as the President and governors.

Section 5: An Exception to Section 2 

Section 5 of the Indian Penal Code is a saving clause that excludes the application of the Code over matters for which specific laws are already present. It limits the applicability of the law to specific classes of people for whom different laws already exist in the country. Section 5 provides that the Code shall not interfere with any special or local laws on matters of punishment, mutiny or desertion of officers, sailors, soldiers or airmen who work for the Government of India.

Section 5 is an exception to Section 2, which makes the Code applicable universally within the territory of India to every person, regardless of their nationality, rank, caste or creed. Section 5 applies to officers, soldiers, sailors and airmen who render their services to the Government of India and have been made liable for desertion or mutiny against the Government.

The section limits the application of the Code to Acts and provisions related to the prescription of punishment for desertion or mutiny against the Government of India by such personnel. The Army Act, 1950, Air Force Act, 1950, Navy Act 1957 and Air Force and Army Law (Amendment) Act, 1975 are the main Acts related to this matter.

Extra-territorial Jurisdiction under IPC

Section 3 and Section 4 of the Indian Penal Code provide provisions for extraterritorial jurisdiction. Extraterritorial crimes are those that are prosecuted in a country different from the one in which they were committed. Section 3 states that if a person commits an act outside of India’s territorial boundaries, but the impact of that act is within the country, the person can be tried under the Code’s provisions, even if the act is not considered an offence in the country where it was committed.

Section 4 of the Indian Penal Code extends the application of Section 3. It provides two options if an offender commits a crime outside of India’s jurisdiction but is found within its boundaries: extradition to the country where the crime took place or prosecution under Indian criminal law through extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Scope of Sections 3 and 4, Indian Penal Code 1860 

Section 4 of the Indian Penal Code confers jurisdiction of the Code on any person who commits a crime beyond the territorial limits of India. This Section also covers the following individuals:

  • Any Indian citizen who is present outside the territory of India and commits an offence.
  • Any person who is traveling through a ship or aircraft that is registered in India.
  • Any person who is present in a location outside the territorial limits of India and targets computer resources that are located in India.


The jurisdiction of the Code extends to the entire country of India, including the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is not only to Indian citizens but also to foreigners who commit crimes within the country’s boundaries. Additionally, extraterritorial jurisdiction enables the Indian courts to try offenders who commit crimes outside the country’s borders, as long as the act has a significant impact on the Indian territory or Indian citizens. The provisions under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Indian Penal Code establish the scope and limitations of the law’s applicability in various scenarios.

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