An introduction to law of crimes

Author: Pragnya Vasishtha, Research Associate

The concept of criminal law has its roots in various traditions. India, having a substantial part of its law derived from the Common Law traditions, a brief overview on the development of criminal law in the western ideology becomes necessary prior to discussing the concept of crime. As per Richard Frase, there are three things every law student (and lawyer) should know about comparative and international criminal justice at the close of the twentieth century: “first, that foreign systems… have successfully employed very different approaches …..on important procedural and substantive issues; second, that foreign systems are increasingly similar to ours, in important ways; and third, that regional and international human rights conventions include many provisions relevant to criminal justice, some of which are more fully complied with in foreign countries than they are [in the domestic criminal justice system]1.”

  1. Richard S. Frase, Main-Streaming Comparative Criminal Justice: How To Incorporate Comparative And International Concepts And Materials Into Basic Criminal Law And Procedure Courses, 100 W. Va. L. Rev. 773 1997-1998, p. 775 []
  2. English translation by Benjamin Jowett, available at, (last visited July 14, 2013). []
  3. Westen, Peter K., Why Criminal Harms Matter: Plato’s Abiding Insight in the Laws. Available at SSRN: (last visited July 8, 2013). []
  4. See Jerome Hall,  General Principles of Criminal Law, The Law book Exchange Ltd. (2008). []
  5. Including Bracton, who wrote De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae 399, 400 (Twiss, ed.1879). []
  6. Harold J. Berman, The Origins of Historical Jurisprudence: Coke, Selden, Hale, 103 Yale L.J. 1651 1993-1994, p. 1654 []
  7. Available at, (last visited on July 13, 2013). []
  8. Halsbury’s Laws of England, 1 Vol 25, Criminal Procedure, 5th ed. Lexis-Nexis []
  9. Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi, 160 Delhi Law Times 277 []
  10. See M.P. Singh, Outlines of Indian Legal and Constitutional History, Lexis Nexis Butterworths Wadhwa, (2009). []
  11. PSA Pillai’s Criminal Law 14, Lexis-Nexis Butterworths Wadhwa (KS. Vibhute ed., 2012). []
  12. Syed Shamsul Huda, The Principles of the Law of Crimes in British India 14, Tagore Law Lectures 1902, Eastern Book Company, (1993). []
  13. Jerome Hall,  General Principles of Criminal Law 2, The Lawbook Exchange Ltd., (2008). []
  14. Henry Hart, Jr., The Aims of Criminal Law, 23 Law & Contemp. Probs. 401 1958, p.402 []
  15. Ibid, p.403 []
  16. Gardner, Bailey v. Richardson and the Constitution of the United States, 33 B.U.L. Rev. 176, 193 (1953). []
  17. Leon R. Yankwich, Changing Concepts of Crime and Punishment, 32 Geo. L. J. 1 1943-1944, p.12 []
  18. Ibid, p.22 []