Since the time of the British Raj, the custom of breaking the nib after awarding a death sentence has been followed by Indian judges. But do you know why they do it?

There is more than one reason why a judge resorts to this action after he/she has passed the judgement.

Here’s why this practice is followed in courtrooms:


Breaking the nib is a symbolic act. It is done so that the pen which signed the person’s life away will never be used to do that ever again.


A death sentence, in principle, is a last resort action in dealing with extremely anti-social acts that cannot be resolved in any other way. 

The nib is broken in order to do away with the ‘tainted’ pen (having ordered the death of a person). Perhaps it is done by the judge as a way of distancing himself/herself from the judgement and the guilt of the same. 

Daily Capital

Judges have no powers to review/revoke the judgement or order once it has been written and signed. Therefore the nib is also broken so that the judge may not think of reviewing his own judgement (no second, third thoughts)

As an old saying goes: The death sentence is a sad, but sometimes necessary thing and breaking the pen used to carry it out, expresses that sorrow.