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27 MAY, 2017 (MAINS)



Q1. “The aim of punishment is to defend the moral law and to do justice to criminal.”Discuss. (2015/15/200 words)


Please write the answer in comments section

  • Ashish

    According to Social Solidarity theory of Emile Durkheim, crime is a violation of the collective conscience, which consists of values held in common by the members of society. He argued that punishment is essentially a ceremonial reaffirmation of the societal values that are violated and challenged by the crime. He compares punishment with a ritual whereby moral order is upheld and the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable conduct is redrawn.
    This form of punishment is near to retributive theory of punishment. The crucial significance of the punishment inflicted on a murderer is that it supports and enhances the general belief in the sanctity of human life, not that it instills fear in the minds of other potential murderers. Social solidarity theory of punishment treats punishment as an end-in-itself. This does not discriminate between different citizens on the basis of their social status, as suggested by some ancient philosophers like Manu and Aristotle.

    However, it has some weakness as well. It holds the offender fully responsible for his actions without considering the prevailing circumstances at the time of commission of the crime. It has been seen that many of criminal’s acts are the product of social conditions. Also, it treats an individual as an end in itself, which leaves little scope for improvement.

    Hence, if the punishment is totally divorced from sociological circumstances of crime, it fails to maintain justice in all cases. For instance, rich man’s son who steal for the thrill of it cannot be compared to a poor man’s son steal a loaf of bread because of his hunger.