Indian Penal Code section 71 states

Where anything is 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, or where several acts, of which one or more than one would by itself or themselves constitute an offence, constitute, when combined, a different offence, the offender shall not be punished with a more severe punishment than the Court which tries him could award for any one of such offences.

what does it mean for an offence to fall under two or more seperate definitions of a law?

Also, if something is an offence falling under two seperate definitions of a law, is it neccesary for the courts to convict the accused under both?

1 Answer 1


It means that the same fact patterns can create offences under different legislation, but due to double jeopardy a defendant can only be punished once.

See for example The State Of Maharashtra vs Sayyed Hassan Sayyed Subhan (Supreme Court, appeal No.1195 of 2018) which relates to the offence of...

1...transportation and sale of Gutka/Pan Masala for offences punishable under Sections 26 and 30 of the Food and Safety Standards Act, 2006 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘FSS Act’)


Sections 188, 272, 273 and 328 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘IPC’).

[my emboldenment and separation for emphasis]

The Court ruled that:

  1. There is no bar to a trial or conviction of an offender under two different enactments, but the bar is only to the punishment of the offender twice for the offence. Where an act or an omission constitutes an offence under two enactments, the offender may be prosecuted and punished under either or both enactments but shall not be liable to be punished twice for the same offence. 

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