Extra Ordinary power of Government to suspend the sentence of the convict under Section 432(1) of CrPC should be exercised cautiously

Bombay High Court: While deciding on a writ petition challenging the suspension order of sentence passed by the state government in  exercise of powers under Section 432(1) of the Cr.P.C, a bench of Ranjit More & V.L. Achliya J.J. struck down the order passed by the government and directed the respondents to surrender before the concerned jail authorities.

In the present case, the respondent police officers were convicted of committing murder under the pretext of police encounter by the Sessions Court. The state government during the pendency of appeal, exercised its power under Section 432(1) of the Cr. P.C. and suspended the sentence for a period of six months. Mr. Choudhari, learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the suspension order was patently illegal because Section 433-A imposed an embargo on government exercising power under Section 432 and Section 433 (to remit/suspend/commute) in favour of a convict punished under a provision where one of the punishments is death, unless the convict has completed 14 years of imprisonment.  The counsel for the respondents opposing the petition, vehemently submitted that the embargo on the powers of the Government under Section 432 of the Cr.P.C. is only with regard to remission and commutation of the sentence and the restriction is not applicable to the suspension of sentence.

The Court observed that they had come across cases in which such request had been turned down though the person/s are old, aged, sick, infirm or suffering from serious ailments like cancer. However, in the case in hand it was shocking to see that all the agencies of the government including the learned Additional Sessions Judge had submitted reports to  facilitate the release of respondent. The Court observed that the exercise of powers to suspend the sentence of a convict of an offence under Section 302, particularly when the matter was still subjudice before the High Court required serious consideration and struck down the order passed by the government.[Ramprasad Gupta v. State of Maharashtra 2015 SCC OnLine Bom 6779, decided on 21-12-2015]

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