(Last Updated on : 26-04-2010)
The Agni Purana has also dealt with the criminal codes which an ideal king should adhere in order to tackle the offences which take place in his kingdom. It has been said that by enforcing proper criminal laws a king attains the most elevated station in the next world. The Purana mentions that a man who without being robbed by a thief, gives himself cut as being robbed, should be over to the king in order to be dealt according to his deserts, in the event of his alleged loss having been recouped out of the royal exchequer. The man, who bears false witness in a Court of Justice, should be doubly punished by a king.
According to the Purana perjurers belonging to the three social orders of Kshatriya
, should be punished with corporeal punishment, while a Brahmana guilty of the same offence, should be excommunicated from the country. The man who enjoys a property bequeathed by him in trust should be made to pay a fine equal to the double of its price while the man who appropriates to his own use any thing held by him in trust, as well as the maker of a trust property who wants to get it back, should be dealt as thieves or should be made to pay a fine of double of its price in lieu thereof . Similarly a man who is entrusted with the custody of another man's clothes and who use them in the absence of their rightful owner, should pay such a double fine, whereby he would be purged off all sins. The artisan takes an advance of his dues and fails to do the work of his employer, should be liable to punishment. The man, who fails to perform his part of the contract or agreement, should be punished with the fine.
The great Purana says that the man who having entered into a solemn compact with another for the sale of a good, would sell it off to a different person out of a greed for larger profit, should be punished by the king with a fine of six hundred Panas. When a Kshatriya assaults a Brahmana, he should be punished with a fine of hundred Panas, a Vaishya found guilty at a similar offence should be liable to a fine of two hundred Panas, while a Sudra in a similar predicament should expiate his guilt by life. On the contrary a Brahmana having used criminal force to a Kshatriya, should be punished with, a fine of fifty Panas, while the same should be reduced to twenty five for a Vaishya and twelve Panas for a Sudra respectively. A Vaishya having assaulted a Kshatriya should be punished with a fine of the Prathama Sahasa class, while a Sudra using force to a Kshatriya should have his tongue cut off. A Sudra who would aspire to give moral instructions to a Brahmana, should be punished by the king. It has been said that by insulting men of good and respectable castes, the miscreants would be liable to fines of goodly sums.
The punishment of such crimes as hitting of one's parents, elder brother, father-in-law, or the elders or superiors in general, or for obstructing the passage one s spiritual preceptor, is a fine of a hundred Panas. The member of a low caste should atone for his guilt, at the cost of the organ with which he had offended against a member of one of the twice-born communities. It has also been stated in the Purana that the man who would disposes another of his house, field, tank, or a garden by threats or shows of violence, should be punished with a fine of five hundred Panas, while an unwilling and inadvertent encroachment upon such rights and properties should be let off with a fine of two hundred Panas. The man who would wilfully destroy or deface boundary pillars or signs, with a view to invade the rights of his neighbours, should be liable to the first or the lowest of the three degrees of fine known as the Prathama Sahasa.
The killer of a horse or a cow should have a hand and leg cut off by the officers of the crown. The man who would wilfully make a tree barren, or destroy its fruit-bearing capacity, should be liable to a fine of a Suvarna. Similarly a man should not speak with another man's wife when forbidden to talk nor should he commit adultery. A king should not punish a girl who chooses her own husband according to the rites of a Gandharva Marriage
The adhyaya in Agni Purana narrates that the king should pass capital sentences on Sudra miscreants guilty of offences punishable with death while he should banish the Brahmanas from his country convicted with the same offence. The properties and belongings of a man guilty of any of the five deadliest sins (Mahapatakins) should be dedicated to the use of the god of oceans (Lord Varuna
). And at the same time a king should kill the abettors of a thief as well as those who would supply him with food and money in a particular village. The king should put to death those who would encroach upon the vested right of a public tank or a divine temple.
A king should separately impose the penalties of the different degrees of fine such as the Sahasa, the Madhyama and the Uttama. Finally it can be said that it is upon the king to judge the right punishment which is applicable for different kinds of punishment which are committed in the kingdom of the king.