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punishments – Sec.53 IPC

Legal heir
June 19, 2021

Punishment Meaning: — The ordinary dictionary meaning of the word “punish” is “to cause the offender to suffer for the offence” or “to inflict penalty on the offender” or “to inflict penalty for the offence” (Concise Oxford Dictionary, 4th Edn.). Punishment can be otherwise defined held the Supreme Court relying on Law Lexicon by P.R. Aiyer, as penalty for the transgression of law and the word “punish” denotes or signifies some offence committed by the person who is punished, Lakshmi Devi Sugar Mills Ltd. v. Ram Sarup, AIR 1957 SC 82: 1956 SCR 916.

Punishment is the penalty for the transgression of law. The terms “punishment” and “penalty” are frequently used as synonyms of each other, Thomas Dana v. State of Punjab, AIR 1959 SC 375: 1959 Supp (1) SCR 274: 1959 Cri LJ 392. The punishments to which offenders are liable under the provisions of this Code are, — First. — Death; Secondly. — Imprisonment for life; Fourthly. — Imprisonment, which is of two descriptions, namely: — 1 Rigorous, that is, with hard labour; 2 Simple; Fifthly. — Forfeiture of property; Sixthly. — Fine, See. Section 53, Penal Code, 1860 . The penalty for transgressing the law.


Sentence means a sentence of transportation or imprisonment, whether originally passed on a person subject to the principal Act or passed by way of reduction or commutation; and “sentenced” has the corresponding meaning, [Section 2(4), Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 . Sentence means any punishment or measure involving deprivation of liberty ordered by a court, tribunal or otherwise for a determinate period of time or for life imprisonment in the exercise of its criminal jurisdiction, See. Article 1(c), Transfer of Sentenced Persons – India.

Sentenced Person:-

Sentenced person means a person undergoing a sentence of imprisonment under a judgment passed by a criminal court including the courts established under the law for the time being in force in the jurisdiction of the Contracting States, and also includes a person who has been conditionally released or on whom suspended sentence has been imposed, [Article 1(d), Transfer of Sentenced Persons .


Imprisonment is a kind of punishment which is mainly of two types i.e. Rigorous that is, with hard labour and Simple, according to Section 53, Penal Code, 1860 . The term ‘imprisonment’ means putting an accused in prison, Raju v. State of M.P., (2006) 47 AIC 415 (MP). The restraint of a person’s liberty under the custody of another. It extends in law to confinement not only in a gaol, but in a house or stocks or to holding a man in the street, etc. 

Imprisonment for life:

Imprisonment for life means imprisonment for the full or complete span of life, Ashok Kumar v. Union of India(1991) 3 SCC 498.


Forfeiture meaning given in Black’s Law Dictionary to the word ‘forfeiture’ relied upon by Supreme Court viz.: as “to forfeit” is “to lose or lose the right to, by some error, fault, offence or crime”, “to incur a penalty” and “forfeiture” is “a punishment annexed by law to some illegal act or negligence…”, “something imposed as a punishment for an offence or delinquency”. The word, in this sense, is frequently associated with the word “penalty”. It must bear the same meaning of a penalty for breach of a prohibitory direction, R.S. Joshi v. Ajit Mills Ltd.(1977) 4 SCC 98, 109 (para 18). A penalty for an offence or unlawful act or for some wilful omission of a tenant of property whereby he loses it, together with his title, which devolves upon others. [Whart.] 3. Expression “forfeiture” means the loss of a legal right by means of some breach of an obligation, Sunil Kumar Modi v. Munna Lal Gupta, (2008) 73 ALR 205.

Forfeiture and seizure :— “Forfeiture” and “seizure” have different meaning and connotation in law. Seizure is temporary interference with the right to hold the property. Seizure under legal process is usually followed by confiscation or forfeiture or disposal in accordance with the provisions under which seizure has been made or the property is returned to the person from whom it has been seized or to the lawful claimant to such property, Deptt. of Forests v. J.K. Johnson(2011) 10 SCC 794.

Imprisonment in default of payment of fine:-

Imprisonment in default of payment of fine means the term of imprisonment in default of payment of fine is not a sentence. It is a penalty which a person incurs on account of non-payment of fine, Shahejadkhan Mahebubkhan Pathan v. State of Gujarat(2013) 1 SCC 570.


  1. Sententia a non judice lata nemini debet nocere

A sentence pronounced by one who is not a judge should not harm any one. [Fleta, lib. 6, c. 6. § 7].

2. Sententia contra matrimonium nunquam transit in rem judicatam

A sentence against marriage never passes into a judgment (conclusive upon the parties). [7 Coke, 43]

3. Sententia facit jus, et legis interpretatio legis vim obtinet

The sentence makes the law and the interpretation has the force of law. [Cy. Law Dict.]

4. Sententia facit jus, et res judicata pro veritate accipitur

Judgment creates the right and what is adjudicated is taken for truth. [Cy. Law Dict.]

5. Sententia interlocutoria revocari potest, difinitiva non potest

An interlocutory sentence or order may be revoked, but not a final. [Cy. Law Dict.]

6. Sententia non fertur de rebus non liquidis

Sentence is not given upon a thing which is not clear. [Cy. Law Dict.]

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