Supreme Court: In a murder case, where the Madhya Pradesh High Court had reduced the sentence to sentence already undergone which was less than imprisonment for life, the bench of MR Shah* and Krishna Murari, JJ has held that such order is contrary to Section 302 IPC as there cannot be any sentence/punishment less than imprisonment for life, if an accused is convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.
In the case at hand, though the High Court had maintained the conviction of the accused for the offence under Sections 147, 148, 323 and 302/34 of the IPC, it had reduced the sentence by giving benefit of right to private defence to the accused, to the sentence already undergone by him i.e. approximately seven years and ten months.
The Supreme Court held that such reduction of sentence is impermissible and unsustainable.
“The punishment for murder under Section 302 IPC shall be death or imprisonment for life and fine. Therefore, the minimum sentence provided for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC would be imprisonment for life and fine. There cannot be any sentence/punishment less than imprisonment for life, if an accused is convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC. Any punishment less than the imprisonment for life for the offence punishable under Section 302 would be contrary to Section 302 IPC.”
The Court, hence, quashed and set aside the judgment of the High Court and restored the order of the Trial Court and directed the accused to be arrested and to undergo life imprisonment. The Court gave eight weeks’ time to the accused to surrender before the concerned Court/Jail Authority.
[State of Madhya Pradesh v. Nandu, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1356 OF 2022, decided on 02.09.2022]
*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah
For State: Deputy Advocate General Ankita Chaudhary