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Atichara Danda

Atichara Danda is a term used in the Arthashastra of Kautilya. Aticara Danda means ‘punishment for transgression.’ Kautilya devotes a chapter to this in the fourth part (IV – 13).

Transgression could be in the form of trespassing, negligence, violation of rules, and display of abnormality of behavior in the public. Kautilya suggests punishments for such transgressions. For instance, if someone offered food which was not fit to be consumed by a human being, he was liable to be punished.

The nature of punishment in Atichara Danda varies according to the stratum of society to which the victim belongs (brahmin, kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra). Similarly, if someone entered another’s house without permission, with a weapon, no matter by day or night, different degrees of punishment are laid down. Severe punishment is to be meted out in case of illegitimate sexual relations. If done by a mendicant, a trader, an insane person, and a close neighbor, however, it could be pardoned.

For one riding a temple animal, a stud bull or a calf, punishment should be in the form of a fine. If the coachman involved in an accident happened to be a minor, the owner himself was punishable.

One shouting ‘get out of the way’ while cutting a tree, taking an animal under training, riding an untamed animal, throwing a stone, etc., should be pardoned if by chance any injury is caused.