Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant, JJ. vehemently criticised the approach of lower courts in awarding and reducing the quantum of punishment based on the concepts like ‘first time offender’, ‘convicts belonging to weaker section of the society’ and ‘no useful purpose would be served’.
The present case was an appeal which was filed to challenge the reduction of sentence by the High Court, wherein the Court found that the offenders were awarded a sentence of three years under Section 306 IPC by the trial Judge which was subsequently in appeal before the High Court was reduced to the term already undergone by them. The Punjab and Haryana High Court stated that in view of totality of circumstances, no useful purpose will be served by sending the offenders back to jail for remaining sentences of imprisonment.
The Supreme Court while setting aside the reduction of sentence and restoring the sentence given by trial Judge, relying on its previous decisions said that ‘it is discernible how the principle of “first offender” would come into play in such a case. Once the offence under Section 306 IPC is proved there should be adequate and appropriate punishment’. Criticising further, the Court said that, the approach of the High Court as the reasoning shows, reflects more of a causal and fanciful way, while imposing sentence; it has a duty to respond to the collective cry of the society. A Judge has to keep in mind the paramount concept of rule of law and the conscience of the collective and balance it with principle of proportionality, as one cannot remain a total alien to agony of the victim and survivors of the victim. Raj Bala v. State of Haryana, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 734, decided on 18.08.2015