Dynamic Changes in Sanctions

“The state of monarchy is the supreme st thing upon earth: for kings are not only God’s lieutenants upon earth, and sit upon God’s throne, but even by God himself they are called gods” -King James I

Centuries ago, kings ruled the land and are termed equal to God. Everything said by them was considered as ‘words of God’.

Theory of divine law states that whatever is said by king is termed as ‘law of land’. King alone is the law maker for the land he rules. The divine-right theory of kingship also asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, he derives his power and right to rule directly from the will of God.

His orders were unalterable and nonrenewable. May be this the reason why sometimes they are cruel and inhuman specially while penalizing. They believe in brutal punishments like:-

•Castration in case of rape;

•Chopping off hands in case of theft;

•Chopping off other body parts;

•Throwing them off from a cliff;

•Crushed by Elephants;

•Killing by giving thousands of cuts;

•Boiling them alive;

•Rat torture on them;

and various other kinds of savage punishments.

But when people starts raising their voice against such barbarous ways of punishments, authorities starts reducing the intensity of punishment seeing their people rebel.

Then in seventeenth century, Britishers came to India and start imposing their rules and regulation over the people in order to acquire the authoritative position over the nation.

They start making their own code for penalties. The supreme code used for penalizing an accused was given to us by them, which we called as ‘Indian Penal Code,1860’.

The very first procedural code for criminal proceedings known as ‘Code of Criminal Procedure,1898’ was also given by them. But due to certain shortcomings that act was repealed by new act i.e. ‘Code of Criminal Procedure,1973’.

The new act of 1973 made the law more easy, adaptable and contains various things which reduce the intensity of procedural law which somehow made the whole criminal law accused centralized.

Similarly, the catastrophe of World War II brings Universal Declaration of Human Rights in motion which brings a giant revolution regarding rights of accused:-

•Accused were termed as innocent until proven guilty;

•Long trails for summary matters were abolished;

•No handcuffs in front of judges;

•Death penalty in rarest to rare case;

•Numerous of remedies for accused/convicts;

•Free Legal Aid for indigent accused;

•Reviews after reviews;

•Various kinds of penal theories favoring accused;

•No cruel or inhuman behaviour with accused should be tolerated;

•Rights and privileges of accused should not be denied;

and many others.

With changing scenario, apart from privileges, wrongdoers also suffered some harsh punishments:-

•Introduction of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 

•Introduction of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses, 2012

•Insertion of section 326A, 326B, 376AB, 376DA, 376 DB in Indian Penal Code,1860

• Amendments in section 376.

Now if we look back, we can conclude that when punishments were harsher crime rates were low. People were so afraid because of terrible consequences that they did not even think to break the laws.

The ‘tit for tat’ theory seems very useful.

But as Mahatma Gandhi ji said:

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind”.

Makes us think that do brutal punishments really works as panacea or is just an inhuman and cruel behaviour to control the things because we are not capable enough to establish the morality in society by following peaceful path.

What do you think?

Apurva Chaturvedi

Currently pursuing LLM from University of Rajasthan. one can reach out her on

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