Deriving code related to criminal procedures

Deriving code related to criminal procedures

In dharmasthIyam we have seen all the civil procedures till the last post. General rules regarding validity of transactions, marriage, inheritance, real estate, loans, services and products related dispute handling is covered in the past posts.

Next three chapters deals with the guidelines to the judges in dealing with the offences involving criminal behavior.

cANakya names them as follows:

Chapter 17 – sAhasam – Using force. If a party uses force to take away anything from its owner it is called sAhasam.

Chapter 18 – vAk pArushyam – verbal injury. Causing injury to someone using words. Threatening comes under this category.

Chapter 19 – daNDa pArushyam – physical injury. Causing harm by touching or holding physically, injuring people, animals, plants or any other property comes under this topic.

In artha SAstra, we often see a punishment called “pUrva sAhasa danDa”, which roughly means, the situation where one of the subject is about to use force to get his “desire” fulfilled in a transaction. Just before the criminality enters the society a fine (monitory or punishment otherwise) to be imposed by the state leadership to control the crime.

When someone uses force on acquiring other’s property when the owner is present, it is called sAhasam or robbery. Same is done in the absence of the owner, it is called theft. Denying theft, after committing theft will attract higher punishment. 

One who causes another to commit an act of force shall attract double punishment to the original crime.

Defaming anyone showing a physical defect, race, color, gender, origin country etc., should attract fine of three paNas. Vilifying someone who is blind or one eyed etc., as “having beautiful eyes” etc., shall attract double the amount (six paNas) as fine. When this kind of mocking happens towards higher social order / superiors will attract double the fine. Calling a brahmaNa as a “low brahmaNa” or a trader as a “low trader” or calling some one from a country of gAndhara as “low gandhAra” shall attract fine as well.

A person deserves gradually increasing fines for defaming his own country or village, his own caste or occupation, defaming Gods attract highest punishment.

Touching, menacing and striking constitute physical injury.

While some teachers hold an old injury is not a valid case, cANakya holds however old the crime is, the accused should be tried and punished based on the evidence. Evidence is crucial in all cases.

All the damages caused should be compensated by the offenders. Even the damages to the animals, trees, plants shall attract punishment.

Any damages caused to the public properties and common properties shall also be considered while giving the judgement in the cases of crime involving damage and physical injury.

Thus we reach the end of 19th chapter, covering legal guidelines relating to criminal behavior.


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