Rama quotes from manusmrirt (earliest metrical work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of Hinduism. Generally known in English as the Laws of Manu)
for killing Vali. This quote is leading to a surprising conclusion. Let us first see what he quotes’
राजभिः धृत दण्डाः च कृत्वा पापानि मानवाः |
निर्मलाः स्वर्गम् आयान्ति सन्तः सुकृतिनो यथा || ४-१८-३१
31. maanavaaH= humans; paapaani kR^itvaa= sins, on making; raajabhiH dhR^ita daNDaaH ca= by kings, imposed, punishment, also; nirmalaaH sukR^itinaH santaH yathaa= unblemished – sinless, with good deeds, pious souled ones, as with; svargam aayaanti= to heaven, they come.
” ‘When kings impose proper punishment on the humans who have sinned, they become sinless and enter heaven as with the pious souls with good deeds.’ So says one verse of Manu. [4-18-31]
शसनात् वा अपि मोक्षात् वा स्तेनः पापात् प्रमुच्यते |
राजा तु अशासन् पापस्य तद् आप्नोति किल्बिषम् || ४-१८-३२
32. stenaH= a thief; shasanaat vaa api mokshaat vaa= by punishment, either, even, by releasing – by clemency, or; paapaat pramucyate= from sin, will be released; a + shaasan raajaa tu= un, punishing, king, but; paapasya tat kilbiSam aapnoti= sin’s, that, blot, he derives.
” ‘Either by punishment or by clemency a thief will be absolved from sin, but the king who does not impose proper punishment will derive the blot of that sin.’ So says the other verse of Manu. [4-18-32]
This could only mean a criminal if caught and punished or pardoned will not incur sin and if not caught and punished the king will incur the sin. Thus either way the criminal is not incurring sin.
All Sloka Translations are from the site Valmiki Ramayana