Why Do Judges Break the Nib of Pen After Passing Death Sentence?

Death is the highest punishment given to a person in India. Research of the National Law University, Delhi found that 1,414 people were executed since the independence of the country. In India, death punishment can only be given in the rarest of rare cases when the nature of the crime is too harsh and there is no other option.

The fundamental concept of law is “Let a hundred guilty be free but one innocent should not be convicted” Judges try to not give a person death very often but only the rarest of rare cases.

We often see in movies, a judge breaks the nib of the pen after awarding a death sentence to a person. Many people wondered why  do judges break the nib of pen after the death sentence. It is basically a symbolic act and not law. It is nowhere is mentioned in IPC, CrPC or Evidence Act that a judge has to break his pen after awarding death sentences.

During the time, when India was under the control of the British government, British judges used to break the nib of the pen after awarding death punishment to a person. This custom is followed by Indian Judges while awarding death punishment.

No doubt awarding someone punishment of death is the saddest thing for judges, but sometimes it becomes necessary for the society to give sentences of death to the culprits as it is only given when a person commits an extreme anti-social act, by committing which the person has lost his right to live as per the law. While delivering a death sentence a judge may feel guilt inside and breaks the nib of the pen.

Many people also said that by breaking the nib of pen judges try to express that a pen that takes away a live should not be used for any other purpose.

Another reason is that a judge after pronouncing a sentence of death, he cannot review or reopen or cancel his pronouncement even if his mind changes after a while. Judges break the nib of the pen to indicate that as well.

Law Corner

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