17 June 2024


Supreme Court

Sharad Hiru Kolambe Vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors.




Default sentence is not to be merged with or allowed to run concurrently with a substantive sentence

Present appeal challenges the decision passed by the High Court affirming the conviction and sentence of the Appellant (original Accused No. 6) for offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (the MCOC Act). The emphasis in the present appeal is placed on the nature of default sentences passed against the Appellant. The Appellant along with other co-accused was tried and convicted by the Special Judge

Default sentence is not to be merged with or allowed to run concurrently with a substantive sentence. Thus, the sentence of imprisonment for non-payment of fine would be in excess of or in addition to the substantive sentence to which an offender may have been sentenced or to which he may be liable under commutation of a sentence.

Regarding the nature and extent the power to impose fine, Section 63 of the IPC provides some guidelines and states that, wherever no sum is expressed to which a fine could extend, the amount should not be excessive. It follows that, if the law in question or the concerned provision stipulates the quantum or minimum amount of fine, the Courts must be guided by such specification.

If the term of imprisonment in default of payment of fine is a penalty which a person incurs on account of non-payment of fine and is not a sentence in strict sense, imposition of such default sentence is completely different and qualitatively distinct from a substantive sentence. It is not the case of the Appellant that default sentences awarded to him must run concurrently with substantive sentence imposed on him. His case is that all default sentences must inter se run concurrently.

Default sentences, inter se, cannot be directed to run concurrently. However, considering the financial condition of the Appellant, a case is certainly made out to have a sympathetic consideration about the quantum of default sentence. The quantum of fine imposed in the present case in respect of offences punishable under Sections 364A, 395, 397 and 387 of the IPC is not excessive and is quite moderate. However, the default sentence for non-payment of such fine, ought to be reduced to the level of one month on each of those four counts in respect of the Appellant.

Resultantly, while maintaining the quantum of fine, in respect of four counts of offences punishable under the IPC cumulatively at Rs. 4000, the aggregate default sentence shall be four months; and in respect of three counts of offences punishable under the MCOC Act, the fine shall be Rs. 15 lakhs cumulatively with default sentence of three years in aggregate. Even if no amount of fine is paid by the Appellant, the total default sentence for the Appellant would thus be three years and four months, out of which three years of default sentence has already been undergone by the Appellant. Present appeal thus stands allowed.

Tags : Conviction Fine Imposition

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