New Forms of Punishment

Section 53 prescribes five types of punishments to be meted out to a person convicted of a crime under the Code, depending on the nature and gravity of the offence,viz .:

(i) Death; (ii) Imprisonment for life; (iii) Imprisonment, rigorous with hard labour, or simple; (iv) Forfeiture of property; and (v) Fine.

It is suggested to add five new forms of punishment to the existing ones in section 53, IPC with a view to deter particular types of criminals. Such punishments will have more psychological, social and moral impact on the criminals and will go a long way in curbing crimes. The proposed punishments are: (i) Externment, (ii) Compensation to victims of crime, (iii) Public Censure, (iv) Community service, and (v) Disqualification from holding public office.

(i) Externment: Externment or banishment is a form of punishment in which an accused is sent out of the place of his residence to another place for a specified period of time as mentioned in the order issued by the court. This is done to deprive the accused of the company of his family members, friends and associates so that he or she may not indulge in criminal activities. Externment is resorted to primarily in case of anti-social, hardened and habitual criminals.

(ii) Compensation to victims of crime: Unfortunately, the victims of crime in our country do not attract the attention of law makers. Of late, Civil Procedure Code, 1973 in section 357 has empowered the court to award compensation to the victims of crime in very limited cases at the time of passing the judgment. No doubt, the higher judiciary has on times provided compensation to the victims of crime of custodial violence, sexual assault, rape, illegal detention by invoking Article 21 of Constitution, but such instance will not serve the plight of helpless victims.

(iii) Public Censure: Public Censure or social censure is one of the methods of punishment prescribed in some of the countries, such as Russia, Columbia etc., in respect of certain offences of anti-social nature, such as white-collar crimes, tax crimes, food adulteration, etc. In ancient India, public censure was considered suitable punishment for certain class of criminals.

(iv) Community Service: Community service or corrective labour is a form of punishment in which the convict is not deprived of his liberty. Corrective labour is the standard penalty given in those cases where it is considered that the accused need not to be isolated from the society. The period ranges between one month to one year in such cases. This system is used in Soviet Russia with good results. An important feature of this type of punishment is that the accused is not deprived of his liberty and he may go home after the day’s work.

(v) Disqualification from holding public office and contest elections: Disqualification to hold public office and contest election of legislature and local bodies as a form of punishment will have the adequate and desired deterrent sanction, if sincerely implemented. Representation of the People Act, 1951 disqualifies a person convicted for a period of two years or more to contest election for a period of six years. But the provisions are very limited in scope and are being abused with impunity.