Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench of the High Court upheld the sentence of the accused under Section 307 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Section 25 of the Arms Act, while reducing the sentence.

The appellant was convicted for stabbing the victim over a dispute over money. The appellant appealed the High Court, not against the conviction but to plead for reduction of his sentence. The appellant stated that he was deeply regretful for the incident, and that it was committed in the heat of the moment. He also stated that he was the sole bread earner of his family, while also emphasizing that this was the sole criminal proceeding in existence against him.

The Court carefully considered the appellant’s statements and opined that it would meet the interests of justice if the sentence was reduced to five years. The fine of Rs. 25,000 was not reduced, however, the period to be undergone by the appellant in default of payment of fine was reduced from an year to three months. [Kamender v. State of Delhi, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 11270, decided on 30.08.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Court in this case dealt with a revision petition under S. 401 CrPC challenging the judgment of the trial court, Chandigarh convicting and sentencing him rigorous imprisonment for 2 years for substantive offences under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 IPC.

Learned counsel for the petitioner argued that a few material witnesses were not examined in the case. The Court noted that the counsel for the revisionist-petitioner has raised various other arguments like material discrepancies in the statements of PWs, non-joining of independent witnesses etc. However, H. S. Madaan, J. mentioned clearly in the judgment that such type of contentions do not cut much ice and were not of much concern. The Court observed after hearing the arguments by the petitioner as well as on examining the records of the lower court that the trial court has by giving proper reasoning, has arrived at the conclusion that his non-examination does not make much difference, when the case is otherwise established on the file and it agreed to it.

The Court went on to explain the scope of revision petition before the High Court stating that revisional jurisdiction is somewhat limited in nature and while exercising the same it is to be seen whether the order passed is manifestly illegal or would result in gross miscarriage of justice and therefore, the instant case would not fall within four corners of S. 401 CrPC.

However, the Court considered that the petitioner was 65 years old and had already spent 8 months in jail and in lieu of this, directed that the petitioner be treated leniently. Also keeping in mind that there was no previous conviction against the petitioner, it held that the ends of justice would still be met if the sentence is reduced from two years to one-and-a-half years. [Rajinder Singh v. Union Territory, Chandigarh, 2017 SCC OnLine P&H 1717, decided on 18.07.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the refusal to marriage proposal by a girl resulted into a house trespass by the accused carrying an acid bottle and pouring it over the head of the girl and the Hyderabad High Court had reduced the sentence of one year imposed by the Trail Court to the imprisonment already undergone by the accused i.e. 1 month,  the Court said that when a substantive sentence of thirty days is imposed, in the crime of present nature, that is, acid attack on a young girl, the sense of justice is not only ostracized, but also is unceremoniously sent to “Vanaprastha”.

The Court said that the case at hand is an example of uncivilized and heartless crime committed by the accused. It is completely unacceptable that concept of leniency can be conceived of in such a crime. A crime of this nature does not deserve any kind of clemency as it is individually as well as collectively intolerable. When there is medical evidence that there was an acid attack on the young girl and the circumstances having brought home by cogent evidence and the conviction is given the stamp of approval, there was no justification to reduce the sentence to the period already undergone. The bench said that it unfathomable whether the High Court has been guided by some unknown notion of mercy absolutely ignoring the plight and the pain of the victim; a young girl who had sustained an acid attack, a horrendous assault on the physical autonomy of an individual that gets more accentuated when the victim is a young woman or remaining oblivious of the precedents relating to sentence or for that matter, not careful about the expectation of the collective from the court, for the society at large eagerly waits for justice to be done in accordance with law.

Apart from setting aside the order of the High Court and restoring the sentence imposed by the Trial Court, the Court directed the accused to pay a compensation of Rs.50,000/- and the State to pay a compensation of Rs. 3 lakhs. It was further directed that if the accused fails to pay the compensation amount within six months, he shall suffer further rigorous imprisonment of six months, in addition to what has been imposed by the trial court. [Ravad Sasikala v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 175, decided on 27.02.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the review petition seeking modification of sentence awarded to  Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, convicted in the Uphaar Tragedy, the Court refused to reduce the sentence of Gopal Ansal but reduced Sushil Ansal’s sentence of imprisonment to the period undergone owing to the old age and the fact that of the one year period imposed by the Delhi High Court, he has already undergone around nine months including remission. Both will, however, be paying the fine of Rs. 30 Crores each.

Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Kurian Joseph, JJ said that having regard to the fact that the High Court and this Court, in appeal, had limited the imprisonment to one year, the punishment which would serve deterrence and public purpose by both imprisonment and exemplary fine, would be an appropriate punishment in a case like this. They were of the opinion that imposition of expiatory fine in addition to incarceration would serve the penalogical purpose of deterrence having regard also to recidivism.

However, A.K. Goel, J on the other hand said that there is neither any illegality nor any impropriety warranting review of said order passed by this Court. He said that Order of the Court has to be seen as a whole and cannot be split into different sentences. The operative part of the order shows that the Court has tried to balance the interest of justice and while holding that sentence was required to be enhanced, it was added that in lieu of additional period of enhanced sentence, substantial amount of fine was required to be imposed and the fine was to be utilized for setting up of or upgrading the trauma centres of hospitals managed by the Government of Delhi.

On 13.06.1997, there was a fire in Uphaar Cinema, Delhi wherein 59 persons lost their life and about 100 persons were injured. On charge of criminal negligence, apart from others, Sushil Ansal the licencee for running the cinema and his brother Gopal Ansal who was in fact conducting the business of cinema, were convicted under Sections 304-A, 337, 338 read with Section 36, IPC. The Trial Court sentenced them to undergo imprisonment upto two years which was reduced by the High Court to one year. [Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy v. Sushil Ansal, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 108, decided on 09.02.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court:  Disposing of an appeal challenging the conviction and sentence under Sections 363, 366 and 376 of the Penal Code, 1860, the Court observed that “From the evidence on record, the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the prosecutrix was of 13 years 9 months of age at the time of incident and Raju having allured and enticed the prosecutrix. Thus, her consent was immaterial for the reason she was a minor.”

In response to the appellant’s contention that since from the letters of the prosecutrix it is apparent that she was a consenting party having an affair with the appellant, the sentence of the appellant be reduced, the Court observed that “Section 376 IPC prior to the amendment carried out w.e.f. February 03, 2013, provided that the offence of rape of a woman under 16 years of age with or without her consent was punishable with imprisonment of not less than seven years but which may extend for life or for a term which may extend to ten years and payment of fine, provided, the court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than seven years”.

The Court held that “Since the consent of a girl below the age of 16 years is immaterial, the same cannot be treated as a mitigating circumstance so as to award a sentence lesser than 7 years rigorous imprisonment however on the facts and circumstances of the case, the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for 10 years for offence punishable under Section 376 IPC and rigorous imprisonment for 7 years each for offences punishable under Sections 363 and 366 IPC is on the higher side.”

The Court observed that as per Section 376 IPC, the minimum sentence prescribed for the offence of rape of a minor below 16 years is 7 years and hence the sentence of the appellant cannot be reduced to the period already undergone. The appellant’s sentence was modified to 7 years’ RI for the offence punishable under Section 376 IPC with a fine of Rs 10,000 and in default of payment of fine to undergo simple imprisonment for one month,; 4 years’ RI for the offences under Sections 363 and 366 IPC with fine of Rs 2000, and in default of payment of fine to undergo simple imprisonment for one week on both counts. [Raju Kumar Verma @ Raju v. State (Govt. of NCT) of Delhi, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 2993, decided on May 17, 2016]