17 June 2024


Supreme Court

The State of Rajasthan Vs. Mohan Lal and Ors.




Gravity of crime, motive for crime, nature of crime and all other attending circumstances have to be borne in mind while imposing sentence

Judgment passed by the High Court of Judicature at Rajasthan is questioned in present appeal by the State with the prayer for enhancement of sentence. By the impugned judgment, the High Court has confirmed the judgment and order of conviction passed by the Sessions Court, for the offences under Sections 325 and 323 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), but has reduced the sentence from 3 years' rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs. 1000 for the offences under Section 325 of IPC and 6 months' rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs. 250/- under Section 323 of IPC to the period already undergone.

The High Court simply brushed aside material facts and sentenced the Accused to the period already undergone by him, which is only 6 days in this case. The Trial Court and the High Court have taken a lenient view by convicting the Accused for offences under Sections 325 and 323 of IPC. No reasons are assigned by the High Court to impose the meagre sentence of 6 days. Such imposition of sentence by the High Court shocks the judicial conscience of this Court.

Currently, India does not have structured sentencing guidelines that have been issued either by the legislature or the judiciary. However, the Courts have framed certain guidelines in the matter of imposition of sentence. A Judge has wide discretion in awarding the sentence within the statutory limits. Since, in many offences only the maximum punishment is prescribed and for some offences the minimum punishment is prescribed, each Judge exercises his discretion accordingly. There cannot, therefore, be any uniformity. However, this Court has repeatedly held that the Courts will have to take into account certain principles while exercising their discretion in sentencing, such as proportionality, deterrence and rehabilitation. In a proportionality analysis, it is necessary to assess the seriousness of an offence in order to determine the commensurate punishment for the offender. The seriousness of an offence depends, apart from other things, also upon its harmfulness.

The principle governing the imposition of punishment will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. However, the sentence should be appropriate, adequate, just, proportionate and commensurate with the nature and gravity of the crime and the manner in which the crime is committed. The gravity of the crime, motive for the crime, nature of the crime and all other attending circumstances have to be borne in mind while imposing the sentence. The Court cannot afford to be casual while imposing the sentence, inasmuch as both the crime and the criminal are equally important in the sentencing process. The Courts must see that the public does not lose confidence in the judicial system. Imposing inadequate sentences will do more harm to the justice system and may lead to a state where the victim loses confidence in the judicial system and resorts to private vengeance.

In the matter at hand, it is proved that the victim has sustained a grievous injury on a vital portion of the body, i.e. the head, which was fractured. The doctor has opined that, the injury was life threatening. Hence, the High Court was too lenient in imposing the sentence of six days only which was the period already undergone by the Accused in confinement. The Accused is imposed with a sentence of 6 months' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 25,000 for the offences under Section 325 of IPC. The judgment of the High Court is modified accordingly.

Tags : Sentence Reduction Legality

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