In addition to the punishment provided in S. 53, I.P.C. S. 2 of the Whipping Act prescribed whipping as an alternative or additional form of punishment for certain offences, but the Central Act No. 44 of 1955 abolished whipping as a punishment. Lastly, juvenile offenders sentenced to imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term may be detained in a Reformatory School.
Offences for which sentence of death may be passed:
1. Waging or attempting to wage war or abetting the waging of war against the Government of India (S. 121); 2. Abetment of mutiny actually committed (S. 132); 3. Giving or fabricating false evidence upon which an innocent person suffers death (S. 194); 4. Murder (S. 302); 5. Punishment for murder by a life convict (S. 303).
[Struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on April, 7, 1983, in Mithu v. State of Punjab, A.I.R. 1983 S.C., 473[; 6. Abetment of suicide of a child, an insane or intoxicating person (S. 305); 7. Attempt to murder by a person under sentence of imprisonment for life, if hurt is caused (S. 307) and 8. Dacoity with murder. (S. 396).
(a) Imprisonment for life:
The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1955, (No. 26 of 1955), has substituted the word “imprisonment for life” for the words “transportation for life”. Imprisonment for life ordinarily connotes imprisonment for the whole of the remaining period for the convicted person’s natural life.
Originally the convicted person used to be deported to the Andamans and taken for ever from the society of all who were acquainted with him. In actual practice now State Government has stopped deportation to the Andamans and imprisonment for life, for all practical purposes, means imprisonment for 20 years.
The sentence of imprisonment for life is provided in about fifty offences under the Code. Imprisonment for life must be inflicted for being a thug (S. 311). It is also inflicted for waging or attempting to wage war or abetting the waging of war against the Government of India (S. 121), or sedition. (S. 124-A).
(b) Kinds of imprisonment:
Imprisonment is of two kinds, viz., simple and rigorous. In the case of the former the convicted person is not put to any kind of work or labour. There are various offences mentioned in the Code which are punishable with simple imprisonment only, viz., public servant unlawfully engaging in trade or unlawfully buying or bidding for property (S. 449); absconding to avoid service of summons or other proceedings, or not attending in obedience to an order from a public servant (Sections 172-174); refusing oath when duly required to take oath by a public servant (Section 178); wrongful restraint (Section 341); defamation. (Section 500), etc.
In the case of rigorous imprisonment the convicted person is put t6 hard labour, e.g., grinding corn, digging earth, drawing water, etc.
An offender must be punished with rigorous imprisonment where he gives or fabricates false evidence with intent to procure conviction of an offence which is capital by the Code (Section 194); and house trespass in order to commit an offence punishable with death. (Section 449).
Besides simple and rigorous imprisonment, there is another kind of imprisonment called solitary confinement which the court may award while convicting a person of an offence for which under the Code the court has power to sentence him to rigorous imprisonment.
Such solitary confinement should not exceed three months’ of the substantive term of imprisonment and cannot be awarded where imprisonment is not part of the substantive sentence or where imprisonment is in lieu of fine. Solitary confinement cannot also be awarded for the whole term of imprisonment.
(c) Commutation of sentences:
Sections 54 and 55 of Code empower the appropriate Government without the consent of the offender to commute the sentence of death for any other punishment provided by the Code or a sentence of imprisonment for life, or imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding fourteen years.
The appropriate Government is the Central Government where the sentence is a sentence of death or is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends and is the State Government where the sentence (whether of death or not) is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends.