Only 4 Months Jail For Killing Own Father? SC Restores Sentence Of 3 Years RI [Read Judgment]
“The observations of the High Court that no useful purpose would be served by detention of the accused cannot be approved in this case for the reason that the objects of deterrence as also protection of society are not lost with mere passage of time”
The Supreme Court has restored rigorous imprisonment of 3 years awarded to a man by trial court for killing his own father by setting aside the High Court judgment which had reduced the same to the period of imprisonment already undergone (3 months 21 days).
The bench observed that the High Court was not justified in reducing the sentence to an abysmally inadequate period of less than 4 months.
The court said that the proportion between the crime and punishment has to be maintained while further balancing the rights of the wrong doer as also of the victim of the crime and the society at large. Examining the mitigating factors taken into consideration by the High Court, the bench observed:
"In fact, the factor that the incident had happened at the 'spur of moment' had been the basic reason for the respondent having been convicted for the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304 Part II IPC though he was charged for the offence of murder under Section 302 IPC. This factor could not have resulted in awarding just a symbolic punishment. Then, the factor that the respondent was 26 years of age had been the basic reason for awarding comparatively lower punishment of 3 years' imprisonment. This factor has no further impelling characteristics which would justify yet further reduction of the punishment than that awarded by the Trial Court. Moreover, the third factor, of the respondent himself taking his father to hospital, carries with it the elements of pretence as also deception on the part of the respondent, particularly when he falsely stated that the victim sustained injury due to the fall."
The court also disagreed with the observations of the High Court that no useful purpose would be served by detention of the accused. The bench said that such a view cannot be approved in this case for the reason that the objects of deterrence as also protection of society are not lost with mere passage of time.
"In the process of sentencing, any one factor, whether of extenuating circumstance or aggravating, cannot, by itself, be decisive of the matter. In the same sequence, we may observe that mere passage of time, by itself, cannot be a clinching factor though, in an appropriate case, it may be of some bearing, along with other relevant factors. Moreover, when certain extenuating or mitigating circumstances are suggested on behalf of the convict, the other factors relating to the nature of crime and its impact on the social order and public interest cannot be lost sight of."
The bench observed that the High Court erred in law and was not justified in reducing the sentence to a grossly inadequate level while ignoring the relevant considerations. It then restored the Trial Court sentence of 3 years Rigorous Imprisonment, and observed thus:
"The homicidal act of the respondent had, in fact, been of patricide; killing of one's own father. In such a case, there was no further scope for leniency on the question of punishment than what had already been shown by the Trial Court; and the High Court was not justified in reducing the sentence to an abysmally inadequate period of less than 4 months."