If a person steals a loaf of bread because he needs to feed his starving family, should he be punished?

2,061 Views Updated: 31 Aug 2016
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If a person steals a loaf of bread because he needs to feed his starving family, should he be punished?

Before talking about punishments and breaking the law, it is necessary to understand the legal system in India. India is a country of multiple religions. Every religion in India has its set of laws and regulations. Like in Hinduism a person is allowed one marriage without divorce; while in Islam more than single marriage is allowed without divorce and likewise.

Understanding the religious complexities and different cultural and religious backgrounds, India enforced separate laws for Muslims, Christians, Hindus and followers of other religions. While this being enforced a common legal system and separate laws were maintained which were inherited from the colonial era from the British rule. Isn’t it complicated? If not let’s further know about the jurisdiction in our country. You might be wondering how it is even related. It is, let’s come to the point.

India after colonial rule for quite some time had a jury system in the courtroom, where a panel of randomly selected citizens above thirty-five years had to decide the judgment instead of a judge. How? These citizens had a meeting over the hearings and the maximum votes by each jury led to the judgment of the crime. This was surely complicated which is why after a while jury system was terminated. What’s important here is to understand ‘WHY’ the jury system was terminated; which also partially answers the question ‘if a person steals a loaf of bread because he needs to feed his starving family, should be punished?’.

Let me begin with a classic example: In the famous case of 1959, K.M. Nanavati, a Naval officer was charged ‘not guilty’ by the jury for murder. Those who might have seen ‘Rustom’ might know for those who haven’t I am explaining it. Despite the murder of a friend for having an affair with his wife, he instead was proclaimed a national hero. It is said the jury was highly influenced by the media which is why later the jury system was abolished. The point here is, the law should be unbiased and not influenced by any external forces be it on emotional or logical grounds. ‘Theft’ is a crime even it is for a good reason. If a person stole a bread loaf for his family, at the end of the day he stole leaving all the other options he had.

He could have earned few bucks washing cars, polishing shoes, guarding houses, watering plants, washing dishes, delivering newspapers or if not anything he could have asked for it explaining his situation. But he chose to steal and he willing to do it again because once an easy way out is always the same; which is why it is important to punish him so that he doesn’t steal again. Also, we don’t punish people to hurt them but to make them realize their mistake and not to repeat it. If punished, the person will give a second thought on repeating it and might as well work hard to earn that bread loaf.

Posted by: Aniqa Rizvi Posts: (46) Opinions: (405) Points: 5,809 Rank: 18

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