Fines under Indian Penal Code

30 Jun 2022





The blog encompasses thefines as prescribed under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The blog also expoundsupon various types of fine, the rationality behind the prescribed punishment andthe critical analysis of the same.




Accordingto the definition given in the Oxford Dictionary, Fine Means, “A sum of moneyexacted as a punishment by a court of law or other authority”. The court mayimpose a fine as a sole penalty, as an alternative to or in addition to jail.In each case, the court must decide whether a sentence of jail, a fine, or bothshould be imposed as provided in particular offence. Section 53 of theIndian Penal Code, 1860, specifies the forms of punishments that may beimposed on a person who has committed an offence punishable under the IPC, withfines being one of the punishments. Section 63 to 69 covers fines beneath theIPC. If a person fails to pay a fine, the court may decide that he beimprisoned, according to section 64 of the IPC.


Provisionsfor Levying and Collection of Fines

Accordingto Section 63 of the IPC, when the sum is not indicated under therequirements of the Code, the amount of fine to which the offender is due isunlimited, although the fine must not be exorbitant.

InPalaniappa Gounder v. State of Tamil Nadu[1], the Supreme Court statedthat the Court's sentence must be appropriate to the nature of the offence,which includes a fine. Furthermore, the penalty must not be excessive.

Whenan offender is sentenced to imprisonment and a punishment for failing to pay afine, the Court must restrict the sentence, according to Section 65 of theIPC. The maximum time of imprisonment shall not exceed one-fourth of themaximum period of imprisonment for the specific offense.

Section67 of the IPC says that, “If the offence is punishableonly by fine, [the imprisonment which the Court imposes in default of paymentof the fine shall be simple, and] the term for which the Court directs theoffender to be imprisoned, in default of payment of the fine, shall not exceedthe following scale, that is, for any term not exceeding two months when theamount of the fine does not exceed fifty rupees, and for any term not exceedingfour months when the amount of the fine does not exceed fifty rupees”.

Section29 of CrPC talks about the limit on fines that can beimposed by the Magistrate. The Court of a Magistrate of the first class maypass a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or offine not exceeding ten thousand rupees, or of both whereas The Court ofMagistrate of the second class may pass a sentence of imprisonment for a termnot exceeding one year, or of fine not exceeding five thousand rupees, or ofboth.


Fineis the only punishment for some offences including :

·       Section 171(G)- Falsestatement in connection with the election.

·       Section 171 (I)- Failureto keep election accounts.

·       Section 171 (H)- Illegalpayments in connection with the election.

TheCourt, after pronouncing the sentence, can adopt one of two actions to recoverthe fine under Section 421 of the Cr.P.C.-

·       The court can issue a warrant to levy thesum by attaching and selling the offender's movable property; or

·       Can issue a warrant to the District Collectorat the offender's residence authorizing him to seize money from immovableproperty, movable property, or both.

·       Provided, however, that such steps willnot be ordered by the Court if the offender has already been imprisoned forfailing to pay the fine. Furthermore, if the court makes such an order afterthe criminal has been imprisoned, the court must disclose special reasons fordoing so.

Inthe Case of Shahejadkhan Mahebubkhan Pathan v. State of Gujarat[2] the Court heldthat, “Where a substantial term of imprisonment is inflicted an excessive fineshould not be imposed except in exceptional cases”.


VariousTypes of Fines Under IPC

Finesthat are subject to a maximum limit

Theconcept of punishments is based on the principle of deterrence, and Section 510of the IPC increases the maximum fine to Rs. 10 if a person is intoxicated andmisbehaves in public. The maximum penalties that a Court can impose on a personwho commits a crime that is claimed to risk life and public safety is Rs 250.

Finesthat don't have a Fixed Amount

Insome cases, the IPC grants judge’s discretion in assessing whether or not afine is warranted as a form of punishment. The term "imprisonment or fineor both" is completely dependent on the sitting judge's wisdom, leniency,and harshness.

Thecase of Arun Garg v State of Punjab [3]demonstrates this point.This is a case involving dowry death. A fine of Rs. 2000 was imposed by thesession court in addition to the incarceration sentence. The sum was enhancedto Rs. 200000 by the High Court judge. The total amount of the fine was setaside by the supreme court on appeal.


Fineas an alternative to Imprisonment

Thephrase "imprisonment or fine or both" is at the discretion of thepresiding judge, as stated above. The word 'or' is a good substitute for jail.This phrase cannot be used to describe crimes such as culpable homicide.

Inthe case of Allanoor v. State of Madhya Pradesh[4], the accused was chargedwith attempting to murder under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code. The MadhyaPradesh High Court reduced the sentence to three years, less than half of theoriginal punishment, and levied a 10,000 fine. In the case of Jitendra vState of MP[5],the court decreased the sentence to one month and increased the punishment toRs 5000 when faced with a case of rash driving and death by negligence undersection 304 A of the IPC. In Vasanti Singh v State of Maharashtra[6], the court reduced thesentence to one day and increased the fine to Rs 10,000 in a case ofcorruption.


Problemswith the Quantum of Fines under IPC

Becausethe criminal "deserves" the punishment based on the crime hecommitted, the fine imposed achieves its retributive aim only if the greed(benefit gained by the offender) involved in the offense is equal to the amountof fine stipulated in the IPC. Unfortunately, fines as low as Rs. 10, 100, 200,or 500 do not satisfy any of the penological purposes in today's reality. Amonetary penalty of Rs. 10 will not discourage a drunken individual fromengaging in public misbehaviour. Making counterfeit stamps is penalised by amaximum fine of Rs. 200, which, rather than being deterrent or retributive, ismore of a handy and facilitative type of punishment. The fact that the maximumpunishment for an act "endangering life and public safety" is Rs. 250is more of a mockery of the gravity of the offense than a penological measure.It should either be deleted or revised when the amount of fine indicatedbecomes nothing more than a colonial hangover.

Thelack of sentencing deadlines, whether for imposing imprisonment or a fine as apenalty, is a fundamental problem in the Indian criminal justice system.Various investigations, such as the Malimath Committee (2003) and the MadhavMenon Committee (2008), as well as case laws, have repeatedly emphasizedthe urgent need for substantial and precise rules that offer a basis for judgesto make decisions. It leads to unnecessary uncertainty and indiscriminateimposition of jail and fines in the absence of such established sentencingguidelines. When examining the legislative drafting of the IPC, it becomesclear that the punishments indicated have a wide range of flexibility, withconstraints on the highest and, at times, the lowest punishment.



India'scriminal justice system is in desperate need of change. Fines are an appealingtool to punish specific offences; nevertheless, without a solid structure andcriteria, they lead to deficiencies and inconsistencies in punishments. The IPCshould be amended to enhance the number of fines, taking into account thecountry's current economic situation.

Certainsentencing standards for the application of fines should be created, withcriteria such as calculable loss, restoration amount, offender wealth, andadministrative costs being used to determine the amount of fine.

Thelaws that provide for a fine as an alternative to jail should be modified assoon as possible so that there is no severe breach of criminal justiceprinciples when imprisonment is required. Even if this is justifiable for minoracts, it should be amended for serious crimes like culpable homicide and deaththrough negligence.

Written By:


Intern, SejpalAssociates Advocates

Semester-IVth B.A., L.L.B (Hons.)

NationalLaw University, Jodhpur


[1] Palaniappa Gounder v. State OfTamil Nadu, 1977 AIR 1323.

[2] Shahejadkhan Mahebubkhan Pathan v.State of Gujarat (2013) 1 SCC 570.

[3] Arun Garg v State of Punjab,(2004) 8 SCC 251.

[4] Allanoor v. State of MadhyaPradesh.

[5] Jitendra v State of MP, Appeal(crl.)  1318-1319 of 2002.

[6] Vasanti Singh v State ofMaharashtra. 

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