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Concurrent Running Of Sentences Is A Basic Rule Where Accused Is Convicted For 2 Or More Offences Arising Out Of Single Transaction: Allahabad HC

Sparsh Upadhyay
19 April 2022 10:47 AM GMT
Concurrent Running Of Sentences Is A Basic Rule Where Accused Is Convicted For 2 Or More Offences Arising Out Of Single Transaction: Allahabad HC
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The Allahabad High Court has observed that if the accused is convicted for two or more different offences, arising out of one and the same transaction, the basic rule is that the sentences must be directed to run concurrently.The Bench of Justice Raj Beer Singh also said that Section 31 of CrPC leaves discretion with the Court to order sentences for two or more offences at one trial to...

The Allahabad High Court has observed that if the accused is convicted for two or more different offences, arising out of one and the same transaction, the basic rule is that the sentences must be directed to run concurrently.

The Bench of Justice Raj Beer Singh also said that Section 31 of CrPC leaves discretion with the Court to order sentences for two or more offences at one trial to run concurrently or consequently, having regard to the nature of offences and attendant aggravating or mitigating circumstances.

The case in brief 

The Court was dealing with an appeal against a 2005 judgment and order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge IVth, Gorakhpur convicting appellant no. 1 and co-accused (now dead) under section 8/20/23/43 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act.

It was a case of recovery of 500 kg 'Charas' from the truck, which was being driven by the appellant no. 1, and the co-accused (who died during the pendency of the instant appeal and his appeal was abated) was the cleaner of the truck. The arrests of the accused were made on July 11, 2003.

After the trial, the Appellant Pawan Singh and Shri Bhagwan were convicted (in the year 2005) under Section 20(b)(ii) and Section 23 of the NDPS Act by the trial court and were sentenced to 15 years each of rigorous imprisonment. 

Significantly, the Court had not given any such direction that both the substantial sentences have to run concurrently. Meaning thereby, the appellants were directed to serve a total of 30 years of imprisonment.

Against this backdrop, appellant No.1 moved to the High Court and confined his arguments only to the point of sentence awarded to him by the trial Court and he didn't dispute the findings of his conviction. 

It was argued by the counsel for the appellant no. 1 that he had been sentenced to 15 years each of rigorous imprisonment under Section 20(b) (ii) and Section of 23 NDPS Act and since no order was made regarding the concurrent running of the sentences, he could not come out of prison even when he had already undergone a sentence of about 18 years nine months.

Lastly, it was prayed that in the interest of justice the sentences awarded by the trial Court be altered and that both the sentences be directed to run concurrently.

Court's observations 

At the outset, the Court came to the conclusion that on the basis of evidence of Prosecution Witnesses, coupled with documentary evidence on record, the prosecution had been able to prove its case beyond doubt.

The Court also found that the trial court had appreciated the evidence in the correct perspective and therefore, the conviction of appellant No. 1 was based on evidence on record, and thus, the Court upheld his conviction under Section 20(b)(ii) and Section 23 of NDPS Act.

Now, regarding the question of sentence, the Court observed that Section 31 of Cr. P.C. relates to the jurisdiction of the court to award punishment where the accused is convicted of two or more offences at one trial.

The Court further stressed that where the accused is convicted and sentenced for several offences at one trial, the Court may direct that the sentences shall run concurrently, however, in the absence of such direction by the Court (which was the case in the instant matter), sentences shall have to run consecutively.

"Section 31 Cr.P.C. leaves discretion with the Court to order sentences for two or more offences at one trial to run concurrently or consequently, having regard to the nature of offences and attendant aggravating or mitigating circumstances. However, this discretion is to be exercised having regard to the nature of the offence committed and the facts situation, in which the question arises. By and large, trial courts and appellate courts have invoked and exercised their discretion to issue directions for concurrent running of sentences, favouring the benefit to be given to the accused. Whether a direction for concurrent running of sentences ought to be issued in a given case would depend upon the nature of the offence or offences committed and the facts and circumstances of the case. The discretion has to be exercised along the judicial lines and not mechanically," the court further remarked.

Against this backdrop, the Court, after noting that both the offences [under Section 20(b)(ii) and Section 23 of NDPS Act] had arisen from a single transaction, held that the sentences awarded by the trial court must have been directed to run concurrently. Thus, the Court further concluded that the trial court had committed an error by not directing that both the sentences shall run concurrently.

In view of the aforesaid, allowing the appeal partly, the conviction of accused-appellant Pawan Singh under Section 20(b)(ii) and Section 23 of the NDPS Act was upheld by the HC, however, regarding the sentences, the HC directed that both the sentences awarded to the appellant no.1 shall run concurrently.

Appearances

Counsel for Appellant :- Arvind Kumar Pandey, A.T.Pandey, Akhilesh Kumar Singh, Arvind Kumar Kushwaha,Lalit Kumar Shukla

Counsel for Respondent :- Govind Kumar Saxena, Krishna Agarwal, S.K. Shukla, Sanjay Kumar Singh

Case title - Pawan Singh And Another v. State of U.P. [CRIMINAL APPEAL No. - 5086 of 2005]

Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (All) 184

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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