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Administration of Justice (Theories of Punishment)

Punishment according to dictionary- involves the infliction of pain or forfeiture, it is infliction of penalty. chastisement or castigation by the judicial arm of the state. If the sole purpose behind punishment is to cause physical pain to the wrongdoer, it serves little purpose. However, if punishment is such as leads him to realize the gravity of the offence committed by him, and to repent at once for it, it may be said to have achieved its desired effect.

There are many theories of concerning the justification of punishment. It is clear that the philosophy of punishment will affect the actual standards of liability laid down by the law.

As SALMON observes, the ends of criminal justice are four in number, and in respect of the purpose so served by it, punishment may be distinguished as

  1. - Deterrents
  2. - preventive
  3. - reformative
  4. - retributive

1. Deterrent theory-

punishment is before all things deterrent and the chief end of the law of crime is to make the evil-doer an example and warning to all who are like minded with him. According to this theory, offences are result of a conflict between the interests of the wrong-doer and those of society. The aim of punishment is to dissolve the conflict of interests by making every offence. "Avail has vargain to the offender" (famous words of Corne).

This theory has been criticed on the ground that it is ineffective in cases where crime is committed under severe mental stress. In such cases to punish the wrongdoer to deter him is meaningless.

2. Preventive theory-

punishment is, preventive or disabling. Its primary and general purpose being to deter by fear, its secondary and special purpose is wherever possible and expedient, to prevent a repetition by wrongdoer by the disablement of the offender. The most effective mode of disablement is the death penalty, which in practice, in time of peace, is confined to the crime of murder, though it is legally possible for treason and certain form of piracy and arson.

A similar secondary purpose exists in sub penalties as imprisonment and forfeiture of office, the suspension of driving licenses and in the old penalty of exile. The aim of this theory is not to repeat the crime the crime but this theory takes no note of criminal. It prefers to disable the wrong-doer from committing any more crime but it ignores one of the basic object of the criminal law, i.e. to reform the criminal.