Why Judges Break The Nib Of Pen After Passing A Death Sentence?

We all might have seen many dramatic courtroom sequences where a judge orders a death sentence for a criminal, but in reality, this harsh punishment is not awarded to criminals easily or so often. And you might also have seen judges surely breaking the nib of their ink pens after passing the death sentence. But have you ever wondered why it is done?

Is it a mandatory rule or specifically mentioned in law? Do the judges do it on purpose or is it an option? You’ll get the answers to all the questions in this article and get a good amount of legal and ethical knowledge too.

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As per B&B Associates LLP, the custom of breaking the pen’s nib after passing a death sentence in India has been followed since the British Rule. Also, it is not a rule but a symbolic act.

There are various reasons why judges break the nib of the pen after passing a death sentence which include some logical, ethical and also symbolic aspects.

The judges have no power and authority to revive or revoke the judgment after the death sentence is once signed. The nib of the pen is broken so that the judge doesn’t think of reviewing the judgment again. 

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The other reason behind the practice is symbolic. It is believed that a pen that is used to take away a person’s life should not be used for anything ever again. Because it is believed that the pen has tasted blood, it is broken so that it has no power to take another life.

To show that the judge wanted to keep himself at a distance from the judgment and guilt for the same, the nib of the pen after passing a death sentence is broken immediately. 
The judges break the pen’s nib after a death sentence is signed to make the pen unusable so that the decision does not memorize him. It is because the judges should not be unhappy with the decision to execute the criminal.

So these were the reasons that back the breaking of a pen’s nib immediately after it is used to sign a criminal’s death sentence. But as already mentioned, this strict punishment is only awarded to criminals in rare cases. 

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