17 June 2024


Supreme Court

Thangasamy Vs. The State of Tamil Nadu




Imposition of appropriate sentence must commensurate with nature and gravity of crime and manner in which crime is done

In present appeal, the Appellant-Accused has called in question the judgment and order whereby, Madras High Court while dismissing criminal revision petition, had upheld the conviction of Appellant for offences under Sections 279, 337 and 304A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).

The grounds on which the Appellant seeks exoneration in present case are twofold: one, that there was no evidence to prove that, he was driving the bus involved in the accident; and second, in the alternative, that the incident in question took place for the reason of the vehicle from the opposite side approaching in a negligent manner and if the driver of the bus in question had not taken to the northern side, the passengers of the bus would have been at the greater risk because of a valley like slope on the southern plank of the road.

So far the question of identity of the Appellant as driver of the offending bus is concerned, the trial Court, the Appellate Court and then the High Court has found the fact duly proved with reference to the overwhelming evidence on record, including the testimony of PW1 to PW5. The suggestion that, the accident in question occurred for the fault of the on-coming vehicle from the opposite direction has also been rejected with reference to the evidence on record wherein the witness, including the injured persons, uniformly stated that ,the accident occurred for rash and negligent driving of the offending vehicle by the Appellant.

The accident occurred for rash and negligent driving of the vehicle by the Appellant that resulted in the death of four persons apart from causing injuries to three. The devastation in terms of casualties and injuries, as brought about by the Appellant, was bound to result in his conviction for the offences under Sections 304-A and Section 337 of IPC.

In Dalbir Singh v. State of Haryana, present Court found no justification for extending the benefit of probation or for reduction of sentence. On the question of sentencing, this Court re-emphasised that, sentencing is an important task in the matters of crime. One of the prime objectives of the criminal law is imposition of appropriate, adequate, just and proportionate sentence commensurate with the nature and gravity of crime and the manner in which the crime is done. There is no straitjacket formula for sentencing an Accused on proof of crime. The courts have evolved certain principles: the twin objective of the sentencing policy is deterrence and correction. The principle of proportionality in sentencing a crime-doer is well entrenched in criminal jurisprudence. As a matter of law, proportion between crime and punishment bears most relevant influence in determination of sentencing the crime-doer. The Court has to take into consideration all aspects including social interest and consciousness of the society for award of appropriate sentence.

In the light of the principles enunciated by present Court, in facts of the present case, it is noticed that, for rash and negligent driving by the Appellant, as many as four persons died and three other sustained injuries. Yet, trial Court had been considerate in awarding the sentence only of four months' imprisonment for each count of the offence under Section 304-A of IPC and only fine of Rs. 100 for each count of the offence under Section 337 of IPC and Rs. 200 for the offence under Section 279 of IPC. The punishment awarded in this matter had been rather on the lower side. No case for reducing the punishment awarded to the Appellant is made out. Appeal dismissed.


Dalbir Singh v. State of Haryana MANU/SC/0345/2000

Tags : Conviction Sentence Legality

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