Purpose: Retribution is by way of punishment.


Retribution is by way of punishment. If A beats B and causes B’s left leg broken. This theory says to break A’s left leg by B. By this system, the wrong-doer suffers the same quantity of injury, and harm which the victim suffered. He realises what criminal act he committed against the weak victim, and suffers the same with regret.

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Such wrong-doer could not repeat the same wrongful act, or any other criminal act with the fear of retribution. The people of the society will fear the punishments and thus they will afraid to commit any criminal act. Thus the crimes are prevented and the criminal behaviour is reduced in the society.

Still now, in several Islamic countries, this system is followed. This system aims to remove bad by adopting bad procedure, similarly “vajram vajrena bhedyathe”. (Diamond only can cut another diamond). It pays the correct and actual return to the crime.

The victim also satisfies psychologically because the same injury and harm are suffered by the criminal, whom he could not attack. Thus his personal revenge is also satisfied.

According to this theory, the crimes are prevented. Peace shall prevail in the society due to severe nature of punishment. The criminal behaviour will automatically be reduced. The tensions and personal revenges will be decreased.

When a person expects the same injury to him, he could not dare to do the injury to another person. Psychologically, he is abstained to do such illegal acts. There are several incidents showing it.

Certain armoured groups of thieves attack on the villages to plunder the villagers. In Hyderabad urban areas, certain villagers re-attacked such thieves and in doing so they killed the thieves.

The police, Government and Court did not punish such villagers, as their act was to protect their own lives and properties. The villagers’ acts cannot be defined as criminal acts. The Indian Penal Code also protects them under “Right of Self Defence”.

A-a rowdy kidnaps B-a girl, and tries to rape her. B kills A. B is not punished. The law provides certain protection to certain persons to protect their lives and properties in certain occasions. It is ‘ called “Right of Private Defence”.

In the reformative and accusative system of criminal justice the accused is sent to prison or certain reformative steps, such as parole, probation, juvenile justice are provided. In this system, no justice is made to aggrieved victims.

The victim or victim’s families bear grudge against the criminal. They want to take personal revenge against the criminal or his family. This personal revenge grows into “Factionism”. There are factionists in Rayalaseema, Bihar, etc.

There are several villages destroyed by factionism. The disputes and grudges could not be solved for decades. In newspapers, the news of factionism is appearing every day. If there is retributivepunishments, factionism cannot be developed.


The critics of this theory say that retributive punishment is barbaric and brutal. Bentham in his Utilitarian Theory criticises retributive punishment seriously. He opined that no peace and prosperity shall be accorded to majority people in the society by adopting retributive punishment.

He also opined that gradually entire society would be destroyed with personal revenges. According to his theory, the duty of punishment must be accorded to the society/State. No individual shall take the law into his own hands. If it is permitted, everyone tries to take revenge under the bias of certain reasons.

Salmond wrote:

“Crimes are not similar to those of debit or credit accounts in the banks. Revenges cannot be reattributed just like bank accounts. Why are the crimes occurring? The basic cause for criminality must be researched. The Acts must be enacted to remove the defects in the society, if rapist any.

To injure the criminal, again the criminal is compelled to do criminal act to take revenge, etc., create chain reaction in the society. The primary function of criminal justice system is to punish the wrong-doer, and to see that the similar type of crimes should not reoccur in the future, and to prevent the criminal behaviour in the society, and to see that the peace and prosperity should prevail in the society.”

The critics also opine that the retributive theory could not show any solution for social and economic offences.

Moreover, this system cannot explain the remedies for the persons who commit the offences by on temporary angry, insanity. Majority of criminologists, jurists, penologists, sociologists, jurisprudents do not support this theory. Only victimologists support it to certain extent.