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Report No. 35

E. Classification of Punishment in Hindu Law

The classification of punishment in Hindu Law has been elaborately explained by Dr. P.K. Sen.1

'The chapter headed Dandabhedah deals with the usual four-fold classification based on the text of Brhaspati: Vag-Danda, Dhig-danda, Dhana-danda and Vadha-danda.

"Vag dhig dhanam vadhas caiva
caturdha Kathito dameh,
Purusam vibhavam dosam Jnatva
tam parikalpayet;

"Punishment is four-fold, namely, admonition, reproof, fine and corporal. It should be meted out after considering the offender, his pecuniary condition, and the crime committed by him."

The first, Vag-danda, may be taken to mean punishing with words i.e. giving a solemn warning such as "Thou hast acted most improperly." The second, Dhig-danda, means punishing with strong censure such as "shame on thee, thou miscreant"; it differs from the first in intensity, not in kind. The third, Dhana-danda, means punishing with fine which may be of two kinds, fixed and fluctuating.

In certain cases the fixed fine may easily be imposed. Certain other cases do not admit of such easy handling. Allowance must be made in the latter class of cases for some elasticity in view of repeated inclinations to offence and other circumstances such as violence attending it. When the offence is accompanied by violence the punishment must be graded according to circumstances, to fit prathama sahasa (violence of the first order), madhyama sahasa (violence Of the,second order), and uttam sahasa (violence of the last or extreme kind).

Vadha-danda requires detailed treatment. Vadha may be of three kinds pidana, angaccheda and pramapana. Pidana (afflicting) is sub-divided into four modes: (i) tadana such as whipping or flogging, (ii) avarodhana or restraint of liberty by means of imprisonment, (iii) bandhana, restraint of liberty by chaining, fetters and the like, without actual imprisonment, and (iv) vidambana, i.e., exposing to ridicule and humiliation such as by shaving the head of the offender, making him ride on an ass, branding his person with a mark denoting his offence, proclaiming his offence with beat of drum, making him patrol the city, etc.2

Angaccheda, mutilation, may be of different limbs and organs of the body. Manu mentions ten kinds of mutilation. Brhaspati prescribes fourteen,3 referring to fourteen parts of the body which may be mutilated, namely, hand, leg, organ of generation, eye, tongue, ear, nose, half-tongue, half-leg, thumb and the index finger taken together, forehead, upper lip, rectum and waist.

Pramapana means capital punishment. It may be of the pure and the mixed variety i.e., in the latter case mutilation or some other form of punishment may be combined with the death sentence. The pure variety again is of two kinds, ordinary (avictram) and extraordinary (vicitram). The ordinary form of execution is by means of ordinary weapons such as sword and the like; the extraordinary is by means of impaling, or other awe-inspiring methods.

It is noteworthy that according to Brhaspati Vag-danda, and dhig-danda, were within the jurisdiction of Vipras or Pradvivakas, whereas artha-danda and Vadha-danda were within the sole jurisdiction of the King himself.4

1. Dr. P.K. Sen Penology old and new, (Tagore Law Lectures 1929, (1943 Edn.), pp. 126-128.

2.Dandaviveka Gaekwad's Oriental Series, Vol. 52, p. 20.

3.Dandaviveka Gaekwad's Oriental Series, Vol. 52, p. 21.

4.Dandaviveka, p. 12.

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