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Report No. 35

C.-Other Capital Offences under Muslim Law

Other offences punishable with death under Muslim Law at the advent of the British rule were as follows:-

Types of homicide



Zina (Unlawful conjunction of the sexes).1 Death penalty-Lapidation or stoning to death (Stoning to be commenced by witnesses)*-if the offence is committed by a man of sound understanding and mature age and married, with a woman of the same description. (In the case of non-Muslims or unmarried persons, punishment was 100 stripes and in the case of a slave, 50 stripes).* There were detailed provisions to ensure avoidance of any cruelty or breach of decency in carrying out the punishment.*
But death sentence was imposed only when four honourable witnesses saw the guilty persons actually in the act.* In fact, even whipping was often remitted during British times.**


Repeated commission of the offence of larceny (Sariqa) if the value is not less than 10 dirhms (2 to 3 rupees).2 As an exemplary punishment, death could be inflicted.+


Highway robbery (Sariqa-i-ubra.-Where murder had been committed (without robbery), or both robbery and murder had been committed.3 Death semtence was permissible ++

1. Harrington, Vol. I, p. 266.

2. Hamilton's Hidaya, (1791), Vol. I, pp. 82-84.

3. See Hamilton's Hidaya, (1791), Vol. 2, pp. 124 to 130, and Harrington, Analysis, (1821), Vol. 2, pp. 281, 283, discussing the four descriptions of robbery.

* Harrington, Vol. I, pp. 267, 268.

** See Aspinall Cornwallis in Bengal, (1931), p. 62, foot-note 2.

+ Harrington, Vol. I, p. 275. In the foot-note, the Fatwa Alamgiri is quoted as directing "The man may put the thief to death for the purpose of seeasut or exemplary punishment as he is a practised disturber of the peace."

++ Harrignton, Vol. I, p. 282, discussing the third and fourth types of robbery.

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