(a) innocent person suffers death – Sec. 194

(a) Waging or attempting to wage war or abetting the waging of war against the Government of India -Section 121 I.PC.;

(b) Abetment of mutiny actually committed – Sec. 132 of I.P.C.;

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(c) Giving or fabricating false evidence upon which an innocent person suffers death – Sec. 194

(d) Murder – Section 302; We

(e) Punishment for murder by a life-convict – Sec. 303 [This Section was struck down by the Supreme Court holding that it was unconstitutional, while disposing the case Mithu v. State of Punjab, AIR 1983 SC 4731;

(g) Attempt to murder by a person under sentence of imprisonment for life, if hurt is caused – Sec. 3071.PC;

(h) Dacoity with murder – Sec. 396 I.P.C.

The Courts have a high range of discretionary powers in passing death sentences. The death punishment is also called “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”.

It is the maximum punishment possible to be imposed on a criminal. This punishment occupies topmost position among the grades of punishments. This punishment can be imposed in extreme cases and rarely that too in extremely grave crimes.

The capital punishment can be imposed on a criminal who commits a pre-planned and premeditated murder in cold blood. The offences with sections in which the death penalty can be imposed are explained above.

Most of the developed countries have removed death sentences from their respective penal code due toagitations caused by the suggestions of sociologists, reformists, criminologists, etc.

In India too, there is a serious discussion on this topic. Sections from 366 to 371 of the Criminal Procedure an. 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”

(f) Abetment of suicide of a child, an insane or intoxicated person – Sec. 305 of IPC;

2. Imprisonment for Life:

Before 1955, the words “transportation for life” was used. The Code of Criminal Procedure Amendment Act, 1955 (Act No. 26 of 1955) substituted the words “Imprisonment for life” in place of “transportation for life”.

The general public thinks that imprisonment for life means only 14 years imprisonment, and the convict shall be released as soon as the 14 years period is lapsed. It is wrong presumption.

Actually, the punishment under the Imprisonment for Life means imprisonment for the whole of the remaining period of the convicted person’s natural life. During the British Rule, the convicts under “transportation for life” was used to be deported to the Andamans and other Colonies and were taken for ever from the society of all who were acquainted with him.

After independence, such system was stopped. Now the convicts under imprisonment for life are imprisoned in the Prisons of the States concerned. The life convict is not entitled to automatic release on completion of fourteen years’ imprisonment, unless on special occasions, the Government may pass an order considering the good behaviour and conduct of the convict remitting the balance of imprisonment for life.

3. Penal Servitude:

“Servitude” means “slavery”. “Penal Servitude” means “the convict becomes a slave of the State” The British Courts used to impose ‘Penal Servitude” as a severe punishment next to the Death Sentence. Generally, this punishment was imposed on Indians, who revolt against the then British Rule.

“Penal Servitude” is coupled with the punishment of “Transportation” i.e., the convicts under these two punishments were sent to uninhibited lands and areas, such as Andaman and Nicobar, South Africa, etc., or to any other British territories or dominions to work in their factories, plantations, mines, etc.

These punishments were also called “Extermination” or “Exterminating” Before the independence, such punishments were called as “Kala Pani”. A cinema “Kala Pani” was also picturised showing heinous circumstances in those days.

Several thousands of freedom fighters were punished under these punishments before the independence. As soon as India got independence, our Indian Government abolished “Penal Servitude” punishment, by the Criminal Justice Act, 1948 (Act No. 58 of 1948).

4. Imprisonment:

The Fourth kind of punishment is “Imprisonment”. It is of two descriptions, viz.—

(i) Rigorous, i.e., with hard labour; and

(ii) Simple.

(i) Rigorous Imprisonment i.e. with Hard Labour:

There are certain offences defined in the Indian Penal Code, for which rigorous imprisonment may be imposed by the Courts. Examples: House- trespass under Section 449 of IPC; fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of an offence which is capital by the Code (Sec. 194); etc.

For such offences, rigorous imprisonment may be imposed. In rigorous imprisonment, the convicted person is put to do hard labour such as digging earth, cutting stones, agriculture, grinding corn, drawing water, carpentry, etc. The Supreme Court suggested that the offenders imposed hard labour should be paid minimum wages.

The trial Court, while disposing Bombay Blast Case (2007), sentenced Sanjay Putt, a Bollywood Hero, for rigorous imprisonment for a period of six years. Until the Supreme Court gave the Bail, Sanjay Dutt did carpentry work for 30 days and earned Rs. 39/- during that period.

While disposing the case Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration (AIR 1980 SC 1675), the Supreme Court observed: “Hard labour in Sec. 53 has to receive a humane meaning.

A girl student or a male weakling sentenced to rigorous imprisonment may not be forced to break stones for nine hours a day. The prisoner cannot demand soft jobs but may reasonably be assigned congenial jobs. Sense and sympathy are not enemies of penal asylums.”

(ii) Simple imprisonment:

This punishment is imposed for the lighter offences. Examples: public servant unlawfully engaging in trade or unlawfully buying or bidding for property (Sections 168-169); absconding to avoid service of summons or other proceedings, or not attending in obedience to an order from a public servant (Sections 172-174); to obstruct traffic or cause public nuisance; eve- teasing, drunken brawls, etc.; refusing oath when duly required to take oath by a public servant (Section 178); wrongful restraint (Sec. 341); defamation (Sec. 500) etc.

Solitary Confinement:

Section 73 of the Code empowers the Courts to impose solitary confinement to certain persons and in relation to certain offences. This punishment is also part of the imprisonment.

A harsh and hardened convict may be confined in a separate cell to correct his conduct. He is put separately without intercourse with other prisoners. All connections are severed with other world.

The object of this punishment is to reform the hardened and habitual offender and in order to experience him with loneliness. There are certain restrictions in imposing solitary confinement. They are:—

(a) Solitary confinement should not exceed three months of the whole term of imprisonment.

(b) . It cannot be awarded where imprisonment is not part of the substantive sentence.

(c) It cannot be awarded where imprisonment is in lieu of fine.

(d) It cannot also be awarded for the whole term of imprisonment. Further according to Section 73, the following scale shall be adhered,—

(i) Time not exceeding one month if the term of imprisonment shall not exceed six months;

(ii) A time not exceeding two months if the term of imprisonment shall exceed six months and shall not exceed one year;

(iii) A time not exceeding three months if the term of imprisonment shall exceed one year.

In several European countries, including Great Britain, this punishment was repealed.

Section 74 limits the solitary confinement. If it is imposed for a long time, it adversely affects on human beings and creates mental derangement.

This Section says that solitary confinement shall in no case exceed fourteen days at a time with intervals between the periods of solitary confinement of not less duration than such periods, and when the imprisonment awarded shall exceed three months, such confinement shall not exceed seven days in any one month of the whole imprisonment awarded, with intervals between the periods of solitary confinement of not less duration than such periods.

Enhanced Punishment:

Section 75 the Code permits to impose enhanced punishment for certain offences under Chapter-XII or Chapter-XVII after previous convictions.

According to this Section, whoever, having been convicted by a Court in India, of an offence punishable under Chapter-XII or Chapter-XVII of this Code, with imprisonment of either description for a term of three years or upwards, shall be guilty of any offence punishable under either of those Chapters with like imprisonment for the like term, shall be subject for every such subsequent offence to imprisonment for life, or to imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, as Chapter-XII, containing Sections 230 to 263-A, explains about the offences relating to coins and Government Stamps.

Chapter-XVII containing Sections 378 to 462 explains the offences against property, i.e., theft, extortion, robbery, dacoity, criminal misappropriation of property, criminal breach of trust, receiving of stolen property, cheating, mischief and criminal trespass.

Conditions for imposing enhanced punishment:—

(a) The accused must have been previously convicted;

(b) Such conviction must be for any offence mentioned in Chapter-XII or XVII; to

(c) Such previous conviction must have been for an offence punishable for not less than three ea years;

(d) Subsequent offence must also be punishable with imprisonment for not less than three years.

5. Forfeiture of Property:

“Forfeiture” is the divestiture of specific property without compensation in consequence of some default or act of forbidden by law. The Courts may order for forfeiture of property of the accused in certain occasions.

In white collar crimes, and where a Government employee or any private person accumulates black money and black assets, and there is no genuine answer and proof for such money and properties with such person, the Court may award for forfeiture of property.

In cases of smugglers, goondas, anti-national personalities, etc., the Government or the Courts are empowered to forfeiture of property of such anti-social elements.

6. Fine:

The Courts may impose fine along with or without imprisonment. The Indian Penal Code mentions the punishment of fine for several offences, generally with or without imprisonment.

Amount of fine:

According to Section 63, where no 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.

Sentence of imprisonment for non-payment of fine:

According to Section 64, in every case of an offence punishable with imprisonment as well as fine, in which the offender is sentenced to a fine, whether with or without imprisonment, and in every case of an offence punishable with imprisonment or fine, or with fine only, in which the offender is sentenced to a fine, it shall be competent to the Court which sentences such offender to direct by the sentence that, in default of payment of the fine, the offender shall suffer imprisonment for a certain term, which imprisonment shall be in excess of any other imprisonment to which he may have been sentenced or to which he may be liable under a commutation of a sentence.

Limit to imprisonment if fine imposed is not paid:

Section 65 lays down that the term for which the Court directs the offender to be imprisoned in default of payment of a fine shall not exceed one- fourth of the term of imprisonment which is the maximum fixed for the offence, if the offence be punishable with imprisonment as well as fine.

Description of imprisonment for non-payment of fine:

Section 66 lies down that the imprisonment which the Court imposes in default of payment of a fine may be of any description to which the offender might have been sentenced for the offence.

Imprisonment for non-payment of fine when offence punishable with fine only:

According to Section 67, if the offence be punishable with fine only, the imprisonment which the Court imposes in default of payment of the fine shall be simple, and the term for which the Court directs the offender to be imprisoned, in default of payment of fine, shall not exceed the following scale,—

When the fine shall not exceed fifty rupees – the term of imprisonment shall not exceed two months;

Termination of imprisonment on payment of fine:

According to Section 68, whenever the fine is paid the imprisonment shall be terminated forthwith.

According to Section 69, if, before the expiration of the term of imprisonment fixed in default of payment, such a proportion of the fine be paid or levied that the term of imprisonment suffered in default of payment is not less than proportional to the part of the fine still unpaid, the imprisonment shall terminate.


A is sentenced to a fine of one hundred rupees and to four months’ imprisonment in default of payment. Here, if seventy-five rupees of the fine be paid or levied before the expiration of one month of the imprisonment, A will be discharged as soon as the first month has expired.

If seventy five rupees be paid or levied at the time of the expiration of the first month, or at any later time while A continues in imprisonment, A will be immediately discharged.

If fifty rupees of the fine be paid or levied before the expiration of two months of the imprisonment, A will be discharged as soon as the two months are completed. If fifty rupees be paid or levied at the time of the expiration of those two months, or at any later time, while A continues in imprisonment, A will be immediately discharged.

Fine vs. Imprisonment:

It is the general presumption that if the offender passes the imprisonment in default of fine imposed upon him, such imprisonment shall liberate the fine. It is wrong presumption. Section 70 says that fine and imprisonment for default of fine are two different things.

Imprisonment for default of fine shall not liberate the offender from his liability to pay the full amount of fine imposed upon him. Imprisonment in default of fine is not a satisfaction for the fine, but it is a punishment for non-payment or contempt or resistance to the due execution of the sentence.

Such fine shall be recoverable from the offender within six years from the date of sentence passed by the trial Court or during imprisonment. Fine may be recovered from the property of the offender. Death of the offender shall not discharge property from liability.