Report No. 202
3.2 Kinds of Punishments:
Various kinds of punishments are permissible under the law to punish persons found guilty of commission of different offences/crimes. To mention, some of these are corporal punishment, fines, forfeiture and confiscation of properties, banishment, externment, imprisonment, capital punishment or death sentence, corrective labour, compensation for injury by the offender, public censure, etc. Choice of appropriate sanction out of many that can be permissible under law may arise at two stages, one at the legislative stage and another at the stage of administration of justice in a given case.
The first relates to the prescription of punishment for a given offence in the legislation. That may lay down the maximum and the minimum punishment for an offence. The second stage relates to punishing an individual criminal within permissible limits so prescribed in the law depending upon the facts and circumstances of a given case. We are concerned here with the first stage, that is to say, whether Section 304B of Indian Penal Code, 1860 should be amended to provide for death sentence for the offence of dowry death.
The section presently provides for life imprisonment and a minimum sentence of seven years imprisonment. The subject of death sentence or capital punishment has generated endless debates the world over that failed to reach unanimous universal conclusions. India has retained death sentence on its statute book. However, in practice it is sparingly used in the rarest of rare cases. There is a distinct tendency to restrict its use to gravest offences committed in a diabolic way that shocks the conscience of the public at large.