Punitive Damages

June 8, 2024

Punitive damages in Indian law refer to monetary awards imposed on defendants in civil cases as punishment for egregious conduct, deterrence of future wrongdoing, and vindication of the plaintiff’s rights. Unlike compensatory damages, which aim to compensate the plaintiff for losses suffered, punitive damages are intended to penalize the defendant for their intentional, reckless, or malicious behavior. Punitive damages may be awarded in cases involving fraud, willful misconduct, oppression, or gross negligence, where the defendant’s actions warrant additional sanctions beyond compensatory relief. The assessment of punitive damages is subject to judicial discretion and is guided by principles of proportionality, reasonableness, and fairness. While punitive damages serve as a deterrent against wrongful conduct and promote accountability, their imposition requires careful consideration of the specific circumstances of each case, including the defendant’s conduct, financial status, and the severity of the harm caused. Courts in India may award punitive damages to plaintiffs as a means of promoting justice, preventing recurrence of similar misconduct, and upholding the rule of law.


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