Section 53- Punishments, Origin And Definition


It is in fact, the suffering in person or property inflicted by the society on the offender who has been adjudged guilty of crime under the law.

It is the retribution due for the violation of rules of the society, which are made for its preservation and peace and the infraction of which is made Punishable.

Administration of punishment always involves the intention to produce some kind of pain which may be partly physical, for instance, as in a whipping, or to cause mental suffering, as in imprisonment where there is a loss of freedom, reputation and sometimes of property. The amount of pain actually experienced by the offender will vary from case to case depending on the circumstances in the situation and the personality of the offender.


There has been considerable difference of opinion regarding the origin of punishment.

Some trace it to vengeance, while others attribute it to fear of the offended goods – yet others see its genesis in the conflict of interest of different groups, as one group imposed its authority upon another.

It seems unlikely now that we shall ever be able to know how, when or why punishments originated but it seems probable that it’s foots were already present when man first appeared as a Social Being.

It should be remembered that both Crime and Punishment are related to the culture in which they occur. They are conditioned by the prevailing Social and Moral values in the Society at the time. The efficiency or efficacy or otherwise of the punishment is affected by what the people in a particular society feel, want and believe.


Punishment is a means of social control. H.L.HART with Mr. BENN and PROFESSOR FLEW has defined “Punishment” in terms of 5 elements—

  1. It must involve pain or other consequences normally considered unpleasant.
  2. It must be for an offence against legal rules.
  3. Punishment must  be an actual or supposed offender for his offence.
  4. Punishment must be imposed and administered by an authority constituted by a legal system against which the offence is committed.

According to GREENHUT, 3 components must be present “if punishment is to act as a reasonable means of checking crime”.

First, “ speedy and inescapable detection and prosecution must convince the offender that crime does not pay”.

Second, after punishment, the offender must have a “fair chance of a fresh start”.

And third, “the Right of Punishment must uphold superior values which the (offender) can reasonably be expected to acknowledge.

The concept of punishments is that of inflicting some sort of pain on the offender for his violation of law. This is an Instrument of  Public Justice.


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