Section 71 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!

This section should be read in conjunction with section 220, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which says:

“Trial for more than one offence

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(1) If, in one series of acts so connected together as to form the same transaction, more offences than one are committed by the same person, he may be charged with, and tried at one trial for, every such offence.

(2) When a person charged with one or more offences of criminal breach of trust or dishonest misappropriation of property as provided in sub-section (2) of section 212 or in sub-section (1) of section 219, is accused of committing, for the purpose of facilitating or concealing the commission of that offence or those offences, one or more offences of falsification of accounts, he may be charged with, and tried at one trial for, every such offence.

(3) If the acts alleged constitute an offence falling within two or more separate definitions of any law in force for the time being by which offences are defined or punished, the person accused of them may be charged with, and tried at one trial for, each of such offences.

(4) If several acts, of which one or more than one would by itself or themselves constitute an offence, constitute when combined a different offence, the person accused of them may be charged with, and tried at one trial for the offence constituted by such acts when combined, and for any offence constituted by any one, or more, of such acts.

(5) Nothing contained in this section shall affect section 71 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of I860)”.

This section should also be read in conjunction with section 26, General Clauses Act, 1897 which states:

“Provision as to offences punishable under two or more enactments

Where an act or omission constitutes an offence under two or more enactments, then the offender shall be liable to be prosecuted and punished under either or any of those enactments, but shall not be liable to be punished twice for the same offence.”

The language of the two provisions under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the General Clauses Act, 1897 quoted above makes it clear that while the former deals with rules relating to joinder of charges and not with sentence to be passed on the charges, the latter talks only of punishment and not of conviction which is true of section 71 of the Indian Penal Code also.

Where a child was abandoned by its mother who intended to abandon it wholly but knew that the abandonment was likely to cause its death, and the child died as a result of the abandonment, it was held that she could be convicted and punished under section 304 only and not under section 317 of the Code also.

Where separate sentences were passed for offences under sections 167(81) of the Sea Customs Act, 1878 and 120-B, Indian Penal Code, the same were held valid. Separate convictions and sentences under sections 147 and 143 of the Code are invalid since only one sentence under section 147 could be passed.

Where an accused commits two offences under sections 330 and 348 of the Code by the same act and causes disappearance of the evidence of the same, two separate sentences under section 201 of the Code could not be awarded. Separate convictions and sentences for committing lurking-house trespass by night and theft in course of the same transaction under sections 457 and 380 of the Code could be passed.

When samples of khoa are taken on the same day from the same person but at different hours of the day and from different cold storages, if the same were found to be adulterated or misbranded, they would cause distinct offences for which separate sentence could be passed. Once a person is convicted for the more serious offence under section 1-48 of the Code, he shall be sentenced under that section only and his conviction and sentence under section 147 is bad in law. The offence of wrongful confinement committed in course of a dacoity are separate offences for which separate sentences could be passed.