Section 64 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!

The section makes provisions for imprisonment in default of payment of the fine. If the first para is read carefully, it is clear that use of the words ‘as well as’ indicates that the section applies where an offence is punishable with imprisonment and also to such cases where it is punishable with fine. The second para makes it clear that the section also applies to cases where an offence is punishable with imprisonment or fine, or with fine only.

The third para states that in all the above mentioned cases the Court is empowered, while sentencing an offender to a fine, to direct that in default of payment of the fine the offender has to undergo an additional term of imprisonment. The use of the word ‘competent’ in the third paragraph shows that the Court is empowered to impose an additional term of imprisonment; the Court is not obliged to do it in all cases.

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In P.R. Anjanappa v. M/s. Yurej Agencies Private Limited, the Karnataka High Court observed that if we look into sections 64 and 70 of the Indian Penal Code it is clear that the property of the accused is liable for the payment of fine even if he has undergone imprisonment in default of fine and as such even on death of the offender does not discharge any property which would after his death be legally liable for his debts due from him (including liability) to discharge the fine.

In Monica Christy Chikwa v. State of Punjab, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that where two sentences of fine were imposed under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and two defaults in respect thereof committed, the defaulting convict would have to undergo two separate terms of imprisonment so as to discharge the penal consequences of his default, and thus such terms of imprisonments would obviously be consecutive and not concurrent. Any other interpretation would be contrary to the spirit of section 64, Indian Penal Code as also to the very nature of an imprisonment to be undergone for default in payment of fine.

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