Every Criminal Law is either substantive law, or procedural law. The substantive law determines the rights and liabilities, whereas procedural law defines the remedies. The Indian Penal Code is substantive law, as it lays down what acts amount to various offences and prescribes the corresponding punishment. The Criminal Procedural Code, on the other hand, is procedural law, for it furnishes the detailed machinery for trying offenders. This procedure is to be followed for trying all criminal offences under the Indian Penal Code. The same procedure is also applied to offences under any other law, unless any enactment prescribes a special form of procedure to such offences. The Criminal Procedure Code does not affect the special or local laws in force in India.

The function of procedural law is four fold.

  • To select proper jurisdiction;
  • To ascertain the proper Court;
  • To set in motion the machinery of justice; and
  • To provide ways and means of making the Court’s decision effectual

The Criminal Procedure Code is not entirely procedural in nature. There are several provisions in the Code, which also confer substantive rights. For Example, Sec. 125 of the Code confers the right of maintenance on wife, children and parents. The Code also grants the right of Hebeas Corpus. Likewise, right of appeal is also available under the Code.

Procedural Laws not in any way less important than substantive law. In fact, the two are equally important and complement to each other. In a given case, the substantive penal law may be the perfection of reason and wisdom, and yet the worst criminal may escape through the flaws and loopholes of the procedure. It is therefore, imperative that the procedural law should be as effectual as possible.

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