Section 53 –The punishments to which offenders are liable under the provisions of this code are-Death-Imprisonment for life -Imprisonment –Rigorous and Simple-Forfeiture of property -Fine Capital Punishment – It is the punishment wherein the accused is executed to death after he/she has been found to be guilty of a criminal offence in accordance to the appropriate legal process.The 35th Law Commission report said, “having regard, however, to the conditions in India, to the variety of the social upbringing of its inhabitants, to the disparity in the level of morality and education in the country, to the vastness of its area, to the diversity of its population, and to the paramount need for maintaining law and order in the country at the present juncture, India cannot risk the experiment of abolition of capital punishment.”Apex court in case Bacchan Singh v State of Punjab, observed that death sentences can only be awarded in the rarest of rare cases. Than in case Macchi Singh v. State of Punjab, expanded the finding laid down in Bacchan Singh. Hereunder are certain observations made by the court:

  • Death sentence can only be awarded in case of gravest of culpability
  • Circumstances of the offender must be taken into consideration before pronouncing a death sentence
  • Death sentence can only be imposed when awarding life imprisonment does seem to be adequate for the crime committed by the offender.
  • Before ruling in favour of the death penalty, both, mitigating and aggravating factors must be considered and doing so according to full weightage to the mitigating factors.
  1. Imprisonment -This is a punishment wherein the accused is confined in a penitentiary. There are two kinds of imprisonment rigourus and simple .
  2. Levying of penalty -The imposition of fine or penalty has been prevalent since the inception of tribal system in the civilisation. In the case of Ashok Kumar vs. State the Apex court had opined that “payment of fine brings home the sense of responsibility in a surer fashion than even short terms of imprisonment in some case.” The Indian Penal Code and several other Indian statutes have affixed levying of fine as an alternative as well to the main punishment.
  3. Forfeiture of property- Forfeiture of property has been provided by the Indian Penal Code and it was even prevalent in ancient India. However, the Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 1921 repealed Section 61 and 62 which imposed the punishment awarding for forfeiture of property. Yet, there exist certain provisions in the current IPC which provide for forfeiture of property as a punishment:  Section 126 – Committing depredation on territories of power at peace with the Govt of India, Section 127 – Receiving property taken by war or depredation mentioned in Sec.125 and 126 of I.P.C.,  Section 169 – Public servant unlawfully buying or bidding for a property.

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