Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Harsha Devani and A.S. Supehia, JJ. pronounced the order on quantum of sentence in the ‘Naroda Patiya Riot case’. The respondents who were earlier convicted for various offences of IPC were awarded 10 years imprisonment.

On a fateful day, as many as 93 persons were done to death by the unlawful assembly of which the respondents were a part. The High Court had already convicted the respondents in the case. The respondent-accused 24 moved an application seeking the benefit of the provisions of Probation of Offenders Act. On this point, the High Court noted that the respondents were convicted inter alia under Sections 326 and 436. Since the sections prescribe a punishment of life imprisonment, the Court relying on Jugal Kishore Prasad v. State of Bihar, (1972) 2 SCC 633, held that the benefit of Section 4 of Probation of Offenders Act was not available to the respondents.

Coming to the question of quantum of sentence to be awarded to the respondents, the Court referred to State of H.P. v. Nirmala Devi, (2017) 7 SCC 262, and observed that the punishment should be proportionate to the offence committed. While sentencing a person for a heinous crime, deterrence theory as a rationale for punishing the offender becomes more relevant. The Court considered the magnitude of destruction caused by the unlawful assembly; entire incident had serious communal overtones; properties of innocent victims were reduced to ashes. The offences committed were not against any individual but against the society at large. The Court was of the view that imposing too lenient a sentence would be a travesty of justice. Considering gravity of offence and agony of the victims, the Court awarded 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for the offence under Section 436 IPC along with various sentences for other offences; sentences were directed to run concurrently. [Farzanabanu Ayubkhan Pathan v. Umeshbhai Surabhai Bharwad, 2018 SCC OnLine Guj 1194, decided on 25-06-2018]

Chhattisgarh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: An appeal was filed by the appellant against the order of his conviction and sentence under Section 307 IPC passed by the trial court. A Single Judge Bench comprising of Ram Prasanna Sharma, J. reduced the sentence awarded to the appellant by the trial court while upholding his conviction.

The appellant was convicted on the charge of attempt to murder under Section 307 of IPC. Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that in the facts of the case, at most a case of causing simple injury was made out, and no offence under the said section could be said to have taken place. Per contra, learned counsel for the State submitted that the decision of the trial court was in accordance with law and was not liable to be interfered with.

The Court heard the counsel for the parties and perused the record. The Court found that the appellant inflicted injury on the back of the victim with a deadly weapon (knife) and therefore, looking at all the surrounding facts, the offence under Section 307 was duly proved against the appellant as rightly held by the trial court. However, on the issue of quantum of sentence, the High Court found favour with the submission made by the counsel for the appellant. Considering the fact that the offence took place more than twenty years ago, the Court reduced the sentence awarded to the appellant by the trial court, to the period of sentence already undergone by him i.e. three and a half years. Hence, the appeal was partly allowed in the above terms. [Nanhu v. State of MP (Now State of Chhattisgarh),  2018 SCC OnLine Chh 408, dated 10-04-2018]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Deliberating upon a much debated issue of forming a uniform sentencing policy, the bench of T.S. Thakur and V. Gopala Gowda, JJ said that determining the adequacy of sentence to be awarded in a given case is not an easy task, just as evolving a uniform sentencing policy is a tough call as the quantum of sentence that may be awarded depends upon a variety of factors including mitigating circumstances peculiar to a given case.

Further explaining the situation, the Court held that the Courts have not attempted to exhaustively enumerate the considerations that go into determination of the quantum of sentence nor have the Courts attempted to lay down the weight that each one of these considerations carry because any such exercise is neither easy nor advisable given the myriad situations in which the question may fall for determination. Laying down some of the considerations kept in mind by the Courts while exercising the discretion in awarding sentence, the Court said that the reformative, deterrent and punitive aspects of punishment, delay in the conclusion of the trial and legal proceedings, the age of the accused, his physical/health condition, the nature of the offence, the weapon used and in the cases of illegal gratification the amount of bribe, loss of job and family obligations of accused are some of the considerations that weigh heavily with the Courts while determining the sentence to be awarded.

The matter that came before the Court was relating to an offence under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 where the appellant had accepted a bribe of Rs. 700. Considering the amount received in bribe and the fact that the appeal proceedings have in the case at hand continued for nearly 17 years thereby causing immense trauma, mental incarnation and anguish to the appellant and that the appellant has already undergone 7½ months against the statutory minimum of 6 months imprisonment, the Court upheld the High Court’s order of reducing the sentence. K.P. Singh v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 858, decided on 28.09.2015