SC-ST (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act: Sentence Less Than The Minimum Prescribed By The Act Cannot Be Imposed: SC [Read Judgment]
"The High Court could not award sentence less than the minimum sentence contemplated by the Statute."
The Supreme Court has observed that a sentence lesser than the minimum sentence prescribed by the statute cannot be imposed.
The court was dealing with an appeal against High court order which had reduced a convict's sentence to period already undergone. The Trial Court had convicted Vikram Das for the offence under Section 3(1)(xi) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months with fine of Rs. 500. Section 3(1)(xi) provides for a sentence of imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine.
Before the High Court, the accused did not press the appeal on merit and had sought reduction of sentence. The High Court set aside the sentence of six months rigorous imprisonment, and modified it to period already undergone and enhanced the fine to Rs.3000.
In appeal filed by the state, the bench comprising Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta referred to earlier judgments in this regard and observed that even by resorting to provisions of Article 142 of the Constitution, a sentence less than the minimum sentence cannot be imposed.
"Thus, the High Court could not award sentence less than the minimum sentence contemplated by the Statute", said the bench. Setting aside the high court order, the bench ordered Vikram Das to undergo the remaining sentence imposed by the Trial Court.