Compromise cannot be taken to be a solitary basis for reduction of sentence: Supreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where a compromise was reached between parties, 28 years after an incident left the victim crippled for life, the bench of Ajay Rastogi* and Abhay S. Oka, JJ held that compromise cannot be taken to be a solitary basis for mitigating the sentence until the other aggravating and mitigating factors also support and are favourable to the accused for molding the sentence which always has to be examined in the facts and circumstances of the case on hand.

What was the case about?

On 13th December 1993, the injured victim was brutally attacked with stones, sword, Satur, etc., by the appellant, leaving him severely injured so much so that when he was taken to the hospital, his dying declaration was recorded as according to the treating Doctor, in the absence of immediate medical treatment, his death was certain. The incident led to the amputation of the leg and the arm of the victim and left him crippled for life.

The appellant was convicted under Section 326 IPC and was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 5 years and to pay under Section 357 CrPC of Rs. 2 lakhs as a monetary compensation to the victim.

A compromise was entered between the appellant and the injured victim on 13th July, 2021 and it was argued that,

“the relations of the families are very cordial and they are now closely related having matrimonial relations with each other’s family and the incident has occurred due to misunderstanding and on the spur of the moment and submitted that the parties have jointly prayed, in the interest of peace and harmony between both the families and as requested by the complainant to compound the offence and in the interest of justice, he may be released on the sentence undergone.”

What did the Supreme Court say?

Explaining the law on compromise, the Court said that the compromise if entered at the later stage of the incident or even after conviction can indeed be one of the factor in interfering the sentence awarded to commensurate with the nature of offence being committed to avoid bitterness in the families of the accused and the victim and it will always be better to restore their relation, if possible, but

“… the compromise cannot be taken to be a solitary basis until the other aggravating and mitigating factors also support and are favourable to the accused for molding the sentence which always has to be examined in the facts and circumstances of the case on hand.”

Further, giving punishment to the wrongdoer is the heart of the criminal delivery system, but there are no legislative or judicially laid down guidelines to assess the trial Court in meeting out the just punishment to the accused facing trial before it after he is held guilty of the charges. However, the Court takes into account a combination of different factors while exercising discretion in sentencing, that is proportionality, deterrence, rehabilitation, etc.

The Court, in the present case, was not able to record its satisfaction in reference to the kind of compromise which was obtained and placed on record after 28 years of the incident. It said that,

“… this Court cannot be oblivious of the sufferings which the victim has suffered for such a long time and being crippled for life and the leg and arm of the victim are amputated in the alleged incident dated 13th December, 1993 and since then he has been fighting for life and is pursuing his daily chores with a prosthetic arm and leg and has lost his vital organs of his body and became permanently disabled and such act of the appellant is unpardonable.”

The Court, hence, refused to give any benefit of the alleged compromise and held,

“… such a brutality cannot be ignored which is not against the individual but the crime is against the society which has to be dealt with sternly.”

[Bhagwan Narayan Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 748, decided on 20.09.2021]

_____________________________________________________________

Counsels:

For appellant: Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani

For State: Advocate Sachin Patil


*Judgment by: Justice Ajay Rastogi

Know Thy Judge | Justice Ajay Rastogi

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