Welcome to the official blog of the Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate and Associates, where we are dedicated to providing litigation support services for matters related to Corporal punishment. In today’s blog post, we aim to shed light on the prevailing issues surrounding corporal punishment, the legal framework in place for their protection, and the steps we can take as a society to combat these acts. Join us as we explore this critical subject and empower you with the knowledge to protect your rights and safety.

Throughout history, various forms of punishment have been used to discipline individuals or penalize them for committing offences. Corporal punishment is one such method that inflicts physical pain on individuals, both adults and children. It has been employed by authorities for child discipline and as part of criminal law punishments. Parents and teachers have often resorted to corporal punishment to control children’s behaviour, while certain courts of law in several countries utilize it for sentencing offenders.

Understanding Corporal Punishment

Corporal punishment involves the use of physical force by a supervising adult to inflict pain or discomfort on individuals, both adults and children alike. For children, corporal punishment aims to control inappropriate behaviour, prevent repeated offences, and align them with their parents’ or teachers’ expectations. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as any form of punishment that involves physical force causing “some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.”

In contemporary times, the use of corporal punishment has become a contentious issue, largely due to the development of human rights laws internationally. While some openly support its use, several countries have banned it, especially for children. The application of corporal punishment to adults is also subject to debate and controversy.

It explores the history and evolution of corporal punishment, the current legal and social positions on it across countries, and the various methods employed. It also delves into the international conventions against corporal punishment and the legal perspective of India on the matter.

What is Corporal Punishment?

The term “corporal punishment” refers to a form of punishment in which a supervising adult uses physical force to cause pain or discomfort to individuals, both adults and children. It is commonly used to control children’s inappropriate behaviour, rectify or prevent repeated offences, and enforce compliance with parental or teacher expectations. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as any punishment involving physical force that causes “some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.”

For adults, corporal punishment is employed as a penalty or part of a penalty for committing offences. It has been historically used on prisoners and slaves. The UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment does not specifically include pain or suffering arising as part of “lawful sanctions.” However, any sanction considered lawful may still involve elements of torture or ill-treatment, which extends to the application of corporal punishment on adults.

Types of Corporal Punishment

Various methods of corporal punishment have been employed throughout history, including:

  1. Flagellation or Flogging: This form involves repeatedly hitting the victim with continuous blows, usually on the back, using whips, canes, rods, sticks, or other objects. It has been common in judicial punishment, schools, prisons, armies, and homes.
  2. Beating: Involves violently hitting the victim, often using spanking, slapping, pinching, or other solid objects.
  3. Human Branding or Stigmatisation: In this method, a visible mark is imprinted on the body of the offender. It was historically used on slaves, criminals, and livestock.
  4. Blinding: A form of corporal punishment that results in partial or total loss of vision, often used in ancient societies.
  5. Mutilation: A barbaric form of corporal punishment used to cause intense pain, humiliation, and permanent damage to body parts.
  6. Amputation: The removal of a body part as punishment for a crime, historically used in various societies.
  7. Stoning: A brutal form of capital punishment commonly used for sex offenders and adulterers during medieval times.

History and Evolution of Corporal Punishment

 Corporal punishment has been prevalent in human civilization since ancient times. The first documented instance of corporal punishment dates back to around 2000 BC in Egypt, where tomb robbers were beaten. It was common in ancient Greek and Roman societies, though some thinkers and educators advised against its use. The Old Testament contains accounts justifying corporal punishment, and it is also mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah.

During the 5th century of the Christian era, corporal punishments were believed to save people from divine wrath, such as during epidemics like the plague. The Tang Code in China during the 6th century set schedules of offences and punishments, including corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment was widely used during the Spanish Inquisition, where Muslim and Jewish populations were persecuted under the supervision of Catholic monarchs. In subsequent centuries, various Protestant leaders, such as Luther, Calvin, and Knox, supported strict punishment and discipline for children. In England, King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine II passed laws authorizing corporal punishment for petty offences and nobles’ exemption from such punishment, respectively.

In India, ancient legal texts mentioned the application of corporal punishment only in cases of criminal offences. Corporal punishment was prevalent during the Sultanate and Mughal eras, and the British introduced it through the Whipping Act of 1909.

With the development of global human rights law, advocacy for the prohibition of corporal punishment gained momentum. Several countries began to abolish judicial corporal punishment, and international conventions condemned the use of corporal punishment for children. Today, over 64 countries have banned corporal punishment for children, while others are committed to reforming their laws to implement a blanket ban.

International Conventions Against Corporal Punishment

Various international conventions and human rights treaties prohibit corporal punishment. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights condemn torture and “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment,” which includes corporal punishment.

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment defines torture as inflicting “severe” physical or mental pain. Hence, corporal punishment can be considered torture, especially when it involves excessive force or is applied as a penalty for crimes.

Legal Perspective of India on Corporal Punishment

In India, corporal punishment has been historically prevalent, even in educational institutions. However, legal measures have been introduced to curb its usage. The National Policy on Education and the Right to Education Act completely prohibit corporal punishment in schools for children aged 6 to 14 years. Additionally, the Juvenile Justice Act and other relevant Acts safeguard children against violence and abuse.

Judicial Corporal Punishment

Judicial corporal punishment refers to corporal punishment awarded as a penalty or part of a penalty by a court of law. While it has been abolished in many regions of the world, it is still practised in certain former British colonies, Muslim-majority nations, and among followers of Shariah law. Judicial corporal punishment mostly involves flogging and caning.

Relevant Questions

What is the purpose of corporal punishment?

Corporal punishment is used as a disciplinary method, especially for children. It is also employed as a penalty for crimes, known as judicial corporal punishment.

What are some common methods of corporal punishment in schools?

Methods of corporal punishment in schools include hitting, slapping, spanking, shaking, and using objects like canes or straps.

What are the laws in India protecting children from corporal punishment?

India has several laws protecting children from corporal punishment, including provisions in the Indian Penal Code, the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015, and the Right to Education Act of 2009.

Are there international conventions against corporal punishment?

Yes, various international conventions and human rights treaties prohibit corporal punishment, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.


Corporal punishment remains a highly controversial issue in modern times, with varying legal and social perspectives across countries. While some nations have banned it entirely, others continue to employ corporal punishment in schools, prisons, and as part of criminal law. The application of corporal punishment on children is increasingly recognized as harmful and detrimental to their development and well-being. International conventions and human rights bodies continue to advocate for its prohibition, aiming to foster a world that respects the dignity and rights of all individuals, especially children. In India, legal provisions protect children from corporal punishment in educational institutions and alternative care settings, but further efforts are needed to eradicate this practice from all settings, including homes. By promoting positive parenting and adopting non-violent disciplinary measures, society can create an environment that fosters growth, empathy, and respect for human rights.

We are a law firm in the name and style of Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate and Associates at Gurugram and Rewari. We are providing litigation support services for matters related to Corporal punishment.

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