Case BriefsForeign Courts

South Africa High Court, Free State Division, Bloemfontein: The petition for Leave to Appeal was filed before a Division Bench of C.J. Musi, AJP and O.J. Van Schalkwyk, AJ  against the convictions and sentence for the offence of robbery.

Two appellants – one and six were sentenced to eight-year imprisonment each and ten and twelve years respectively in respect of appellants – two and four. The basis for such a variation was an individual’s involvement in the crime and previous convictions of each of the accused.

Moreover, the minimum sentence for the offence was not imposed. The reason for this as per the Regional Magistrate was that the offences were not coupled with unnecessary violence. Firearms were exposed at the scene of the offences but were not utilized. The Regional Court found the backing in Section 51 (3) (a) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 105 of 1997, which states that “if any Court referred to in sub-section (1) or (2) is satisfied that substantial circumstances exist which justifies the imposition of a lesser sentence than those prescribed in the subsections, it shall enter those circumstances on the record of the proceedings and thereupon impose a lesser sentence.”

The Statute demands “substantial circumstances” to exist to forego the minimum sentence and award a lesser one. In the State v. Malgas, 2001 (2) (SA) 1222 (SCA), “substantial and compelling circumstances” has been discussed in length and includes the age of an accused or previous convictions. Though, these factors must be weighed together with the aggravating factors of the offence. But over sympathy, aversion to imprisoning first offenders and personal doubts as to the efficacy of the policy implicit in the amending legislation should not qualify. In short, Legislatures have always made a point that for an offence a minimum punishment should be imposed as to maintain balance and consistency.

By relying on the just and reasonable discretion of the Regional Magistrate for imposing a lesser sentence, this Court upheld the conviction and sentences imposed by the Regional Court. [Mogoje Johannes Mogoje v. State, Case Nr: A109/2017, decided on 12-02-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sunil Gaur, J., reduced the sentence of imprisonment awarded to the appellant for the offences under Section 7 and Section 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The appellant was held guilty by the trial court of receiving a bribe of Rs 25,000 while he was working as Assistant General Manager (Administration), East Zone, Delhi in MTNL. He was found guilty of taking the bribe for releasing a security deposit of around Rs 7 lakhs in favour of the complainant Company. The trial court sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of Rs 25,000 for the offence under Section 7. He was awarded another sentence of rigorous imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of Rs 25,000 for the offence under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2).

Aditya V. Singh, Advocate for the appellant did not challenge his conviction. He, however, prayed for reduction of sentence. It was submitted that the appellant was aged 64 years and he had to look after his ailing wife aged 63 years along with his mid-aged widowed sister who was living with him.

Upon perusal of the matter, the High Court reduced the sentence awarded to appellant to the period already undergone by him while enhancing the fine imposed from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 on both counts. Considering the minimum sentence as provided under the relevant sections at the time when the offence was committed, the Court stated, under the relevant sections at the time when the offence was committed, the court stated, “sentence of more than one year already undergone by appellant will meet the ends of justice, as the minimum sentence of one year was provided by law, when the offence in question was committed by appellant.” The appeal was disposed of in the manner stated above. [Mangal Singh Arya v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7456, Order dated 28-02-2019]