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 “ANALYSING SECTION 121 OF IPC”- By Yashika Soni


Chapter VI of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) deals with “offenses against the State”. Sections 121-130 define what constitutes committing an offence against the State. "Waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting the waging of war, against the Government of India," reads Sec. 121. The act of waging war against the state is defined in this section. IPC 121 specifies that anyone who violates this section will be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. A fine must also be paid by the culprit. This cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable offence can also be tried by a Court of Session.

As a result, the offender must be linked to an act of war or aggression against India's sovereignty, either directly or indirectly. Furthermore, every nation considers itself to be sovereign, and any culprit attempting to obstruct that sovereignty is met with harsh retaliation. A "conspiracy to commit offences punishable by Section 121" is also included in Section 121A. It states that no one, whether inside or outside India, should conspire to commit any of the crimes listed in Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code. Individuals should not conspire to use illegal force to intimidate the State government.

This non-bailable and non-compoundable offence can also be tried in a Court of Session. The punishment can be either life imprisonment or ten years in prison, as well as a fine.


The terrorist strikes of 26/11 left the country in a state of shock. It was one of the most heinous acts of terrorism in India's independent history. The heinous massacre claimed numerous lives, including the gunmen's, with only one survivor. The lone surviving gunman's trial and subsequent conviction allowed the Judiciary to dive deeply into Section 121 IPC. The Judiciary is the best place to learn about a legal topic and get help understanding it. 

The Section about waging war against the state was explained by the Division Bench. In this case, the appellant had received five death sentences and five life terms for his heinous acts of terrorism. "Waging, and abetting the waging of war against the Government of India" was one of the main charges levelled against him. His conviction was affirmed by the Court, the President rejected his plea for mercy, and he was subsequently hung for his crimes.


Government of India:

The Supreme Court pointed out that the Section refers to the "Government of India" rather than the "Republic of India." It was stated that in a narrower sense, this phrase referred to the executive branch of the government. It is made up of the administrative bureaucracy in charge of the State's authorities and executive duties. By serving the state, various governments assist in the performance of these tasks and functions. The Bench, on the other hand, concluded that the meaning could not be so limited.

They claimed that the phrase "Government of india" implies: 

  • India as a State,

  • The legal manifestation of India's sovereignty, and

  • The people of India's collective will and consent.

As a result, "Government of India" refers to the concept of sovereignty as defined by Public International Law. It must identify the country as sovereign, whether it is the state or the people. Sovereignty is manifested by the citizens of this democracy, who ultimately elect their government, through their will and expression.

Waging War:

The bench referred to the landmark case of State v. Navjot Sandhu was referred by the bench. The court considered the topic of "waging war" against the Government of india. The Hon'ble Justice had referred to an Indian Law Commission report in it.

"Wages war against the government," according to the report, meant a person aligning himself against the government. This act would be carried out "in the same manner and... with the same means that a foreign enemy would." In addition, the Bench assumed that the IPC drafters intended the meaning of a "ambiguous" term to be "superfluous."

Finally, the Bench determined that conducting war "in the same manner and by the same methods as a foreign opponent" was critical. Because of their similarities, the Supreme Court found it difficult to distinguish between acts of war, terrorism, and violent acts. Riots, insurgencies, unlawful gatherings, levying of war, and terrorist attacks are all attempts to disrupt the "tranquillity of a civilised society."

"Terrorist acts can manifest themselves into acts of war," the Division Bench concurred in its 26/11 decision. In this case, 

  • The terrorist act was primarily directed at India and Indians.

  • This attack was planned by foreign nationals.

  • People were killed only because they were Indians or foreigners visiting India. To disgrace India, they murdered foreigners on Indian soil.

Furthermore, the terrorists intended to attack India, its financial capital (Mumbai), and sow communal unrest. As a result, the terrorists' actions were "in the same manner and by the same means as a foreign enemy." The appellant's crimes were "rarest of rare," according to the Division Bench, and hence justified the death punishment. 



It makes no difference who is fighting the state, or whether the war is political or representative in nature. The likelihood of success will not determine whether or not a conduct is criminal. The term "whoever" is used in Section 121 of the IPC to refer to both domestic and international individuals and institutions. As a result, anyone waging, attempting to wage, or abetting the waging of war against the Republic will face severe consequences.


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