The concept of punishment, its explanation, and its concrete request and reasoning during the past half-century have presented a clear idea of how hard work changes and socializes wrongdoers in support of revenge and confinement. Punishment in its formation is now recognized to be an integral revengeful practice, whatsoever may be the additional role of revenge as reasoning or objective of punishment.

An abundant validation of punishment would continue by presenting that society wants the hazard. The exercise of punishment since the aim of social edict cannot be reached or else because it is partial to assume suffers from illegal violent behaviour to tolerate the cost of their unfair treatment. Restraints on the use of vulnerable punishments are essential, given the ways in which consultants and supremacy can be mistreated.

Under the sanction of the law, punishment is retribution on the offender to the suffering in person or property which is inflicted by the offender. Punishment is the way through which an offender can be stopped from doing offences against person, property, and government. Therefore, punishments can be of various types like deterrent, rehabilitative, restorative and retributive.

This sophistication led to scepticism regarding the profitableness of the terrible aim of rehabilitation inside the framework of existing penal philosophy. To those were additional scepticism over the deterrent effects of penalty (whether special, general toward the wrongdoer, or general, geared toward the public) and as a good goal to that left, apparently, solely two doable rational aims to pursue within the apply of penalty beneath law social defence through confinement, and retributivism.

However, even determinate sentencing wouldn’t be honest unless the sentences therefore approved were the punishments that guilty offenders due. So was born the belief of ‘just deserts’ in sentencing, that effectively combined the two ideas. By this route, the goals of incapacitation and retribution came to dominate, and in some quarters fully succeed, the goals of rehabilitation and deterrence within the minds of politicians and social theorists.

Concurrently with these generally socio-legal developments, philosophers were crafting their own arguments, renewing classic views related to the names of Immanuel Kant and George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel to determine two principal ideas that work astonishingly well with those reviewed high First, philosophers urged that the reformation of guilty offenders isn’t the aim, or maybe a subsidiary aim among many, of the practice of a penalty. Second, justice or fairness in penalty is the essential task of sentencing, and a simple sentence takes its character from the blameworthiness of the wrongdoer and also the damage the crime caused the victim and society.

Philosophers reached these conclusions as a result of they argued that there have been irreducible aspects to punishment in the terrible definition of the application, with the norms governing justice in a penalty, and within the purpose of the practice likewise.

As a result, the bottom was cut out from beneath the dominant penal policy of mid-century, the indeterminate sentence within the service of the reintegrate ideal for wrongdoers behind the bars. Probation was there because different sanctions were received associate enlarged roles, however, release on parole came to a virtual finish. In its place was uniform determinate sentencing, which might avoid the follies of unrealizable pardon goals and guarantee each disabled and even-handed justice for all wrongdoers.


Process of punishment has evolved with civilization; they have become less harsh and cruel. Punishment now focuses more on correction rather that to punish. The Indian Penal Code was codified in 1860, during the British rule and it gave the forms of punishment to be used in the modern India. Section 53 of IPC talks about the existing forms of punishment in India, namely, death, imprisonment for life, rigorous imprisonment, simple imprisonment, forfeiture of property, and fine. With the evolution in the forms of punishment, the process of punishment and the process through which we reach the stage of pronouncing punishment also evolved and became more precise. In the modern India, it is the work of the judiciary to maintain law and order. The process of a criminal trial has been laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Both the aggrieved and the accused are examined by the Court of Law, every aspect, every minute detail is liked into by the court and then it arrives to the conclusion of acquittal or conviction. After conviction, comes the question of punishment, on which the court listens to the submissions of the respective lawyers and decides the punishment accordingly.

In the modern days, capital punishment is the most debated form of punishment among the penologists. Capital punishment is one of the most severe forms of punishment to be given. Under the IPC, it was awarded only in the ‘rarest of the rare cases’ and it is provided only as an alternative form of punishment and not as a mandatory one. Life imprisonment has come up as the best alternative to death sentence.

Besides the above methodology of punishment reigning in Modern India, the court may order the accused to furnish security bond for good behaviour in case of offences which are not profound or serious in nature, the provisions with respect to security bond have been laid down under Section 106 to 110 of Cr. P.C., 1973 and, though it is not a punishment but it may serve a useful purpose to restrain a person from committing a crime and to make him a law-abiding citizen.

From the above descriptions, we can conclude that the methodology of punishment in India has changed and developed with time. Now the punishments are less cruel and the severity of punishment depends on the nature of the crime as the object of penology and law-making has shifted to reformation and deterrence

Types of punishment

  1. Death Sentence

The death sentence is a punishment which is sanctioned by the government and ordered by the court where a person is put to death for a crime acted by him. It is also referred to as ‘Capital Punishment’. The act of carrying out such practice is called execution. As per the Amnesty International survey, the report on as of July 2018 is 56 countries retain capital punishment and 106 countries have completely abolished capital punishment for all crimes. In India, the death penalty is given by the method of hanging. The other ways through which death sentences executed at world scenarios are stoning, sawing, blowing from a gun, lethal injection, electrocution, etc.

The subject of death sentence always has been a matter of controversy. While considering the Constitution as the supreme, the validity of death sentence v/s fundamental rights constantly came forward for the debates. However, the death sentences are rarely given in the Indian criminal courts. In the case of Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab, the Supreme Court held that capital punishment shall be given in the “rarest of the rare” case. However, what constitutes the “rarest of the rare cases” is not prescribed by the Supreme Court or by the legislature.

In the case of Jagmohan Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the SC ruled that the approach towards imposing capital punishment shall be balanced on mitigating and aggravating factors of the crime. However, in the case of Bachan Singh, for the first time, this approach was called into question due to the amendments in the Cr.P.C. As per the amendment in the Cr.P.C. in the offence of murder the offender shall be punished with the sentence of life imprisonment. After taking due consideration of the amendment, the Court stated that capital punishment shall be given in special cases only. However, in the case of Sangeet & Anr. v. State of Haryana, the court noted that the approach laid down in Bachan Singh’s case is not fully adopted. The courts still give primacy to the crime and not to the circumstances of the criminal. The balance of the mitigating and aggravating factors has taken a bit of a back seat in ordering punishment.

Evolving Parameters for Imposition of Death Sentence

The basic evolving parameters for the imposition of Death Sentence are:

  • The punishment shall not be so severe, so as to degrade the dignity of humans;
  • The state shall not arbitrarily inflict a severe punishment;
  • In a contemporary society such severe punishment shall not be unacceptable;
  • Such severe punishment must not be unnecessary.

However, there are other two questions which can be pondered by the Court while imposing the death penalty as punishment:

  • There is something uncommon in the crime which calls for the imposition of the death penalty and renders the sentence of imprisonment for life as inadequate.
  • Even after giving maximum weightage to the mitigating factors which are in favour of the offender there is no other alternative other than imposing the death sentence.
  1. Imprisonment for Life

Life imprisonment is one of the types of punishment which is recognized under Section 53 of the IPC. Earlier this was also known as transportation for life. This punishment is given for serious crimes wherein the convicted remains in prison until his/her last breath.

Section 57 of the IPC is used when fractions of terms of punishment need to be calculated. However, it is important to understand that this section does not give any implied or explicit right to the prisoner to reduce his life imprisonment to 20 years of the sentence. Under some sections like Section 116,119,120 and 511 of the Code, the prisoners can ask for relief under this section.

Is Life Sentence does Period of 14 Years?

In the case of Duryodhan Rout vs State of Orissa (2014), the Apex Court clearly stated that reading Section 55 of the Code and Section 433 and 433 A of Cr.P.C, life imprisonment is not confined to 14 years of imprisonment, only the appropriate government can commute the life imprisonment of the prisoner. The government can commute the punishment of life imprisonment to the imprisonment of term equal to or less than 14 years, or if the prisoner exceeded 14 years of imprisonment, then he can be released.

In 1961 in Gopal Vinayak Godse vs. The State of Maharashtra & Ors., the question ‘whether there is any section in the law wherein the life imprisonment without formal remission by the appropriate government can be automatically treated as one for a definite period?’ came to the Apex Court as a question of law. Answering the question, the court pointed out the observation made by the judicial committee which stated that, the transportation for life shall be deemed to be transportation for 20 years, however, this does not say that it shall be deemed to be considered the same for all purposes. Further, the provisions under which transportation for life has been amended to imprisonment for life can also not be put under Section 57 IPC. Therefore, a sentence of imprisonment for life or transportation for life must prima facie need to be considered as imprisonment or transportation for the whole life of the prisoner till his natural death.

The distinction between ‘Commutation’ under Section 55, Indian Penal Code 1860, and Section 433, Code of Criminal Procedure 1973

There is a thin line difference between Section 55, IPC and Section 433, Cr.P.C. Section 55 of IPC covers only the commutation of life imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years. Whereas Section 433 of Cr.P.C. covers the following powers of commutation to the appropriate government:

  • Death sentence- to any other punishment can be given which is recognised under the IPC.
  • Life imprisonment- to imprisonment not exceeding 14 years or fine.
  • Sentence of rigorous imprisonment- to any term of simple imprisonment (within the term he is convicted) or fine.
  • Sentence of simple imprisonment- Fine.

However, both provisions give power to the appropriate government to commute the sentencing of the offender without the consent of the offender. For the understanding of the section, the appropriate government can be either State or Central Government. If the order is passed under the matter which is exclusively covered by the union list, then the central government will be considered as an appropriate government. Otherwise, in all other cases, the State Government will have the power to commute the sentence.

In the case of Harishankar, Gayaprasad Jaiswal vs State of Gujarat, the Gujarat High Court observed that Section 55 of IPC is independent of Section 433 (b) of Cr.P.C.

  1. Imprisonment

Imprisonment means taking away a person’s freedom and putting him in prison.
According to Sec 53 of the IPC, there are two kinds of punishments:

  1. Simple: It is a punishment in which the offender is confined to jail only and not subjected to any hard labour.

    The following are some offences which are punishable with simple imprisonment:

    • Wrongful Restraint (Sec 341)
    • Uttering any word or making any sound or gesture with an intention to insult the modesty of a women (Sec 509)
    • Misconduct in a public place by a drunken person (Sec 510)
    • Defamation (Sec 500,501,502)
    • Criminal misappropriation of property (Sec 403)
  2. Rigorous: In this case the offender is put to hard labour such as grinding corn, digging, cutting wood etc. The following are some offences which are punishable with rigorous imprisonment:
    • Kidnapping in order to murder (Sec 364)
    • Robbery (Sec 392)
    • Dacoity (Sec 395)
    • House breaking in order to commit offence punishable with death (Sec 449)

Case Law

Gautam Dutta Vs. State of Jharkhand
The boy named Atif Mustafa get kidnapped intentionally and the kidnappers murdered him and disposed of his body to protect themselves from the criminal trial. M.D Safique is already in the court trial. During the court trial court find about his second crime of kidnapping a boy with his 3 friends. Court Find them and convicted them for the offense of kidnapping which is punishable under Section 364a, 120b IPC.

Md.Munna Vs. Union of India and Ors (AIR 2005 SC 3440)
The writ petition is filed under article 32 of the Indian constitution. The petitioner was found guilty of murder. And previously he has already got imprisonment for life for 21 years. In this petitioner claimed that life imprisonment should be equivalent to 20 years and further subject to remission admissible under law.

  1. Forfeiture Of Property

Forfeiture implies the loss of property of the accused. Under this punishment, the state seizes the property of a criminal.it is the result of the wrong or default caused by the person. The property forfeited may be movable or immovable.

In two provisions the forfeiture of the property has been abolished:

  1. Under Section 126 for committing depredation on territories of power at peace with government of India.
  2. Under Section 127 for receiving property taken during war or depredation mentioned in section 126 of IPC.
  1. Fine

Fine can be simply defined as monetary punishment. Almost all the sections related with awarding punishment includes fine as punishment. However, section 63 says where sum is expressed to which a fine may extend, the amount of fine to which the offender is liable is unlimited, but shall not be excessive.

Palaniappa Gounder Vs. State of Tamil Nādu (1977 AIR 1323)
The apex court stated that the sentence given by the court shall be proportionate to the nature of the offence which includes the sentence of fine. And the punishment shall not be unduly excessive.


There are five types of punishments awarded to criminals according to the Indian Penal Code. We have noted different punishments imposed differently in multiple offences; the term, nature, etc., varies in every case and offence and according to courts. All penalties are reformative and deterrent. A reformative approach to punishment should be an essential topic of criminal law.


  1. https://blog.ipleaders.in/the-history-of-punishment-in-india/
  2. https://unacademy.com/content/upsc/study-material/law/kinds-of-punishment/
  3. https://blog.ipleaders.in/punishment-under-ipc-all-you-need-to-know-about-it/#Types_of_Punishments
  4. https://www.ijlmh.com/paper/evolution-of-the-process-of-punishment-in-india/
  5. https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-6879-punishments-under-ipc.html

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