THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE STRINGENCY OF LAW AND DETERRENCE IN CRIME



The more laws, the less justice but strict laws often cause great injustice. Stringency simply means “strictness” and deterrence literally means “the action of discouraging an action or event through instilling doubt or fear of the consequences". Here we discuss a very common belief which prevails among the majority of us that if the legal industry makes punishments more rigorous there are chances to decrease crime and criminal mentality. This idea of reducing crime in the country raises many other questions such as, are the current laws linnet enough to commit crime? Are the consequences of committing a crime so insufficient? Are lawmakers incompetent? Does the constitution as well law makers need to be changed? Does stringency of law guarantee low or maybe no crimes in the country?

When we take notice of statistical data we observe that crime rate in India has been increasing over years continuously. From 367.5 in 2014 and 379.3 in 2016 to 385.5 in 2019. Though there has been a decline in the increasing rate of crime still it reaches skies. Uttar Pradesh reported highest number of cognizable offences (officer in charge can investigate after getting a complaint and also can arrest without a warrant). In 2019, 32.25 lakh crimes (62.6%) were registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)[ THE INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860 ACT NO. 45 OF 1860] while 19.3 lakh (37.4%) under the Special & Local Laws (SLL)[ Special and local laws ]. Compared to 2018, the share of IPC crimes has increased by 3.0% whereas SLL crimes have reduced by 0.6%.


Now let's look how did the legal sector react to these numbers. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill[ The criminal law (amendment)bill, 2018 ], 2018 was passed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in 2018 which increased the minimum imprisonment years for rape of a woman from 7 to 10 years. Sentencing guidelines have been revised dealing with rape cases. Indian Penal Code as well as Code of Criminal Procedure[ Code of criminal procedure, 1973 ACT NO. 2 OF 1974] have been amendment various times.

After going through all the data above mentioned it is fair enough to say that corrective measures and required amendments were made but it did not hinder the crime rate’s hike. The correlation between the strictness of a law and decrease of crime is way broader concept than it appears. Crime cannot only be controlled by increasing the liability. If that was true then countries like Saudi Arabia would be crime-free countries from ages. But strict laws surely reduced their crime rates. Deterrence through strict laws have been practiced even then when we had kings and queens and is still practised when we have democracy, somewhere something is definitely wrong.

The deterrence theory does not work in relation with strictness but with the knowledge of consequences. It is so poor to be unaware of the laws of the land you live in. The knowledge of laws keeps you aware about the consequences you have to experience after committing an offence. If an individual is aware of the cost, he has to pay for his actions he is definitely going to keep them in control. As we learn about the laws, we learn how the implementation of existing laws is more important than amending laws. Let me give you an easy example, go back to your childhood and remember when we developed a habit of biting our nails our parents used to scare us by saying that if we don't stop biting our nails, they will put chilli on them or slightly beat with scale. Now some of our parents actually did that and from that day we resisted ourselves from the same but when they did nothing like what they said, the fear was gone in vain. Similarly, just by making laws we are heading nowhere but by implementing the existing laws we may achieve what we aspire.


The guarantee and the fear that no one will able to escape the consequences of one's deeds check someone's deeds. Some people out there do not even have the fear of getting caught they believe that they can get away with things in a blink. The fear of system and law needs to be restored. Our constitution makers didn’t spend their valuable time just to make laws for these sinister using it a malicious manner.

No one was born criminal. Criminal behaviour is not developed overnight and neither can be cured back at the same time. Various factors are influencing criminal behaviour such as:

Biological factors

Criminologists and psychologists have concluded that various chemical reactions and injuries or influenced part of brains can cause criminal behaviour in people.

Social factors

Judgemental stereotypes and societal discrimination often become the reason for criminal behaviour.


Substantive abuse

Peer pressure and unhealthy growing environment can induce criminal behaviour in young children.

There are some basic regulations which can be adopted by both legal sectors as well as the public to minimise criminal behaviour and further decline crime rates in the country.

Educate yourself and others about the laws and rights you have.

Stand against the wrong first inside you.

Give children a healthy growing environment.

Justice given after multiple years is of no good.

Let the guilty face the consequences.

Implement the law without discrimination.

And most importantly

Focus on the real issue.


Raising voice in the heat of the moment is very common these days but what actually makes a difference is raising the voice at the right time. Often issues do not find solutions even though they have been the hot topic once. The only reason to that is we don't contemplate the actual problem rather focus on impractical solutions. Anything becomes a weapon when correctly used but great weapons even fail when used improperly. We have somewhere started believing that our voice can make difference but what we still have to learn is to make a difference. Our laws provide us with more or else everything and now the need of the hour is to analysis them. There may be some loopholes in the existing laws but why to focus on the weakness when we have not yet understood the strength. Imagine if the loopholes could be used to promote crime then if the laws are used as a weapon what a tremendous and revolutionary change can occur. These laws can become our ethology on lost roads which lead to justice.

Fear is an underrated emotion. It can bring a saint to madness and king to his knees. The fear of getting caught and the fear of consequences can definitely reduce the crime rates but only when these fears become reality. The fear should be greater than the malicious thought in the mind. The definition of ‘free spirit’ needs to be restored. Let the correct people fear and let the fear of defamation and humiliation rise in the minds of offenders. Let the criminals fear the crime.

Authored by

Rudrakshi sharma

(2nd National Article/Essay Writing Competition)


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