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Analyzing Purpose of Punishment : Jacob George .v. State of Kerala 1994 SCC (3) 430 (India)

“Taking away life is a sin both legally and morally and it is the god who could take away as he is the one who gives the same.”- Hon'ble Hansaria.J.

Several issues have been brought into light in the case of Jacob George .v. State of Kerala 1994 SCC (3) 430 (India). The judgment has started with the words “Life is said to be the most sublime creation of God.”

Fetus and Abortion

The question of whether a fetus is Human or not has been answered by citing Taylor's book, i.e, “The Principle and Practice of Medical Jurisprudence where it was stated that fetus is a human having the life”. Also, Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code makes killing or removal of a fetus as an offence. In the same Section, the act of Abortion has been made illegal and the punishment for the same has been described in Section 314. But The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act has permitted abortion/miscarriage by a registered practitioner under some circumstances such as danger to the life of the woman and so on.

Essentiality of Punishments to be Given for Criminal Offenses.

There are 4 purposes in which is required to be achieved ;

  1. Retribution means taking of an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth which thereby creates vengeance. The object behind this is to protect society from the depredations of a dangerous person (criminals).

  2. Prevention, In other words making the criminal not to repeat the (illegal) act he committed earlier. The object behind this is to make not to repeat the same.

  3. Deterrence: The word deter means 'fear'. So it means creating fear in the minds of criminals including society. Its object is to deter others to desist them from indulging in an illegal act like the one at the band.

  4. Reformation is another outcome of undergoing sentence. By keeping the accused inside the prison boundaries for some period making him know the trauma which one suffers in jail as a consequence of this he may not indulge in doing so in the future. The object behind this is reforming the criminal.

Awarding the Compensation and Power to Impose Fine.

The amount of compensation to be awarded must be reasonable, and what is reasonable has to depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case.

The power of imposing fine is intended to do something to reassure the victim that he or she is not forgotten in the criminal justice system. It is a measure of responding appropriately to crime as well as reconciling the victim with the offender.


These are the issues raised and answered in Jacob George's case where a woman who has been deserted by her husband leaving behind a son and returning and making his wife a pregnant for which she decides to abort the child and her brother in law arranges a homoeopath doctor for the said purpose as a consequence of which she dies and a case has been registered against the doctor imposing a fine of 5000 initially along with 4 years rigorous imprisonment which was later on reduced to 2 years and 1 Lakh fine.


This Blog has been written by Mindala Nagasai .

They can be contacted at sudhakaram2081@gmail.com

Edited By: Swathi. Ashok. Nair


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