Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The appellant had filed this jail appeal before a Division Judge Bench comprising of Sudhir Agarwal and Om Prakash-VII, JJ., against his conviction and sentence order passed by Additional District Judge under Sections 489-B and 489-C IPC where he had to undergo imprisonment for life with fine, and imprisonment for 7 years with fine for the respective offence to be run concurrently.

Facts of the case were that the appellant was found to carry counterfeit currency for which he was brought before Sessions Court where prosecution proved charges against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt. Appellant contended that minimum punishment for the offence under Section 489-B was 10 years and the imprisonment awarded to him was life imprisonment. He submitted that he was not a habitual offender and no other case was pending against him. It was pertinent to note the fact that the matter dates back to 2008 and he had already undergone imprisonment for more than 10 years. Whereas the respondent supported the findings of the trial court that the case to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt. No leniency to the appellant was to be shown as per respondent as the crime was committed to jeopardize the economic condition of the country.

High Court found no reason to interfere with the finding that the case was proved against the appellant beyond the reasonable doubt and decided only on the sentence imposed upon the appellant. It was to be kept in mind that deciding sentence is a matter of discretion where punishment should be proportionate to the gravity of the offence. Therefore, appellant’s sentence for punishment under Section 489-B was decreased to 14 years imprisonment on the ground of the sentence passed by trial court being excessive, exorbitant and harsh with other punishment to remain intact. [Abdul Gaffar v. State,2018 SCC OnLine All 2759, Order dated 20-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Clearing the air over the power of the Courts to order “retrial”, the Court said that though the word “retrial” is used under Section 386(b)(i) Cr.P.C., the powers conferred by this clause is to be exercised only in exceptional cases, where the appellate court is satisfied that the omission or irregularity has occasioned in failure of justice.

In the present the accused in a dowry death case had appealed against his conviction before the Patna High Court. The High Court, however, remitted the case to the Trial Court for retrial on account of certain lapses on the part of Investigating Officer/trial court. Disagreeing with the view of the High Court, the bench of Dipak Misra and R. Banumathi, JJ said that the High Court pointed out certain lapses; but has not stated as to how such alleged lapses has resulted in miscarriage of justice necessitating retrial. Certain lapses either in the investigation or in the ‘conduct of trial’ are not sufficient to direct retrial. The High Court being the First Appellate Court is duty bound to examine the evidence and arrive at an independent finding based on appraisal of such evidence and examine whether such lapses actually affect the prosecution case; or such lapses have actually resulted in failure of justice.

It was further explained that the circumstances that should exist for warranting a retrial must be such that where the trial was undertaken by the Court having no jurisdiction, or trial was vitiated by serious illegality or irregularity due to the misconception of nature of proceedings. An order for retrial may be passed in cases where the original trial has not been satisfactory for some particular reasons such as wrong admission or wrong rejection of evidences or the Court refused to hear certain witnesses who were supposed to be heard. [Ajay Kumar Ghoshal v. State of Bihar, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 74 decided on 31.01.2017]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Explaining the law on probation of offenders, the bench of Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, JJ said that when the legislature has prescribed minimum sentence without discretion, the same cannot be reduced by the Courts. However, sometimes the legislation prescribes a minimum sentence but grants discretion and the courts, for reasons to be recorded in writing, may award a lower sentence or not award a sentence of imprisonment. Such discretion includes the discretion not to send the accused to prison.

The Court further explained that if the sentence can be reduced to nil, then the statute does not prescribe a minimum sentence. A provision that gives discretion to the court not to award minimum sentence cannot be equated with a provision which prescribes minimum sentence. The two provisions, therefore, are not identical and have different implications, which should be recognized and accepted for the Probation of Offender Act, 1958.

The Court said that the parliament has made it clear that only if the Court forms the opinion that it is expedient to release the convict on probation for the good conduct regard being had to the circumstances of the case and one of the circumstances which cannot be sidelined in forming the said opinion is “the nature of the offence”. Though the discretion has been vested in the court to decide when and how the court should form such opinion, yet the provision itself provides sufficient indication that releasing the convicted person on probation of good conduct must appear to the Court to be expedient. [Mohd. Hashim v. State of U.P., 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1440, decided on 28.11.2016]