Questions and AnswersLAW OF CRIMES
Elaborate on the kinds of punishment
A: Punishment, according to the dictionary, involves the infliction of pain or forfeiture; it is the infliction of a penalty, chastisement or castigation by the judicial arm of the state. But if the sole purpose of punishment is to cause physical pain to the wrong doer, it serves little purpose. However, if punishment is such as to make the offender realize the gravity of the offence committed by him, and to repent and atone for it (thus, neutralizing the effect of his wrongful act), it may be said to have achieved its desired effect. A person is said to be ‘punished’ when some pain or detriment is inflicted on him. This may range from the death penalty to a token fine. Thus, punishment involves the infliction of pain and forfeiture; it is judicial visitation with a penalty, chastisement or castigation. The following are the seven kinds of punishments:
- Capital punishment
- Corporal punishment
- Solitary confinement
- Indeterminate sentence
- Capital punishment:
“Capital Punishment”: the word “capital” means “the head or top of the column”. Thus the capital punishment means “removal of head”, “death penalty” or “beheading”. This punishment can be imposed in extreme cases and rarely that too in extremely grave crimes. Most of the developed countries have removed death sentences from their respective penal code due to agitations caused by the suggestions of sociologists, reformists, criminologists, etc. Sections from 366 to 371 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 explain the “Submission of Death Sentences for Conformation”. Sections from 413 to 416 of Code, 1973 explain the provisions for “execution, suspension, postponement of capital sentences”. The object of capital punishment is said to be two-fold. By putting the offender to death, it may instill fear in the mind of others and teach them a lesson. Secondly, if the offender is an incorrigible one, by putting him to death, it prevents the repetition of the crime by that person on a permanent basis. But, it is evident that this punishment is not based on the reformative object of punishment, in the sense that it is a step of despair. There have been many arguments for and against this kind of punishment.
In Bachan Singh V. State of Punjab (1980 2 SCC 684), the Supreme Court was faced with the question whether the death penalty imposable for some offences under the Indian Penal Code is constitutionally valid. By a four: one majority verdict, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty is constitutionally valid, and does not constitute an “unreasonable, cruel, or unusual punishment.” The majority pointed out that the death penalty is to be imposed only for “special reasons” and only in the rarest of rare cases. However, such provisions cannot be said to be violative of Article 14,19 and 21 of the Constitution. It was also observed that the fact that India had accepted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does not affect the constitutional validity of the death sentence. The voice of dissent came from Justice Bhagwati, who delivered a separate verdict to the effect that S.302 of the IPC is void, in so for as it provides for imposition of death penalty (for murder) as an alternative to life imprisonment. In Vasant Pawar V. State of Maharashtra ( 1980 Supp. S.C.C 194), the Supreme Court took a stern view of “dowry deaths” and “wife burning tragedies” and has refused to commute sentences imposed on such “murderers” by lower courts.
Next to capital punishment, a method of elimination of incorrigible or dangerous offenders is the punishment of deportation. In India, it used to be called transportation. This could hardly be a solution to the problem. If a man is dangerous to one society and he is let loose in another society, he is likely to be equally dangerous there also. This kind of punishment was abolished in England and is now abolished in India.
- Corporal punishment:
Corporal punishment includes modulation, flogging (or whipping) and torture. This was a very common kind of punishment in the ancient and the medieval times. Up to the Middle Ages, whipping was the most common form of punishment. It was a severe form of punishment which leads to death of the prisoner due to the wounds received by the lashes. The main objective of this punishment is deterrence. It has been realized that such punishment can be ineffective and inhuman. The person who undergoes this type of punishment may be more anti-social that he as before. The criminal tendencies in him might e hardened and reforming him might be impossible. The punishment of whipping has been abolished in India in 1955. However, a few criminologists have suggested that whipping should be reintroduced as a punishment in India. They argue that imprisonment may not have the same deterrent effect as whipping, which would still have a graver fear in the minds of the prospective offender.
Imprisonment, if properly used, may serve all the three important objects of the punishment. It can be deterrent, because it makes an example of the offender to others. It can be preventive, because it disables the offender, at least for some time, from repeating the offence, and it might, if properly used, give opportunities for reforming the character of the offender.
- Solitary confinement:
Solitary confinement is an aggravated kind of imprisonment. This kind of punishment exploits fully the sociable nature of man, and by denying him the society of his fellow beings, it seeks to inflict pain on him. However, the total period of solitary confinement cannot exceed three months in any case, nor can it exceed fourteen days at a time, with intervals of fourteen days in between or seven days at a time with seven days interval in between, in case of substantive sentence exceeds three months imprisonment.
- Indeterminate sentence:
Another kind of imprisonment, which may serve the reformative purpose to a greater extent, and which is to-day extensively used in the United States, in the method of awarding an indeterminate sentences. In this case, the accused in not sentences ti imprisonment for any fixed period. The period is left indeterminate at the time of the award, and when the accused shows improvement, the sentences may be terminated. This kind of sentence serves the reformative purpose to a considerable extent, as even in prison, the offender has a very strong motive to reform himself.
Some criminologists are of the opinion that the punishment of fine, in addition to serving its deterrent object, also serves three more purposes. Firstly, it may help to support the prisoners; secondly, it can generate expenses for the prosecution of the prisoners; and thirdly it may be used for compensating the aggrieved party. This kind of punishment can be used in case of criminal but not hardened criminals.
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