The Supreme Court reduced punishment awarded to a rape convict to period already undergone taking into account the 'special reasons'.
3 decade old rape incident, the prosecutrix and the accused married (not with each other) and settled in life, are the 'special reasons' which prompted the Apex court bench to reduce the sentence.
The Trial Court had convicted the accused for seven years R.I. under Section 376 of the IPC and the High court dismissed his appeal. Before the Apex Court, the counsel for the accused, placed reliance on proviso to Section 376(1) IPC, as it existed on the date of the incident. The said proviso permitted imposing a sentence of less than seven years on adequate and sufficient reasons. The state opposed the plea.
Upholding the conviction, the bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice KM Joseph observed: "Being minor, the submission of the appellant that the prosecutrix on her own consent stayed with the appellant and cohabited cannot be accepted. Both the Courts below have rightly convicted the appellant for an offence under Section 376. We, thus, fully concur with the view of the Courts below and affirm the conviction under Section 376."
The 'special reasons', according to the counsel were that: there are no criminal antecedents of the accused; he is now married and has three daughters; the prosecutrix is also married and has husband and kids and is well-settled in life and the accused has already undergone the sentence of more than one year and seven months.
The court observed that this is a case where the provision of Section 376(1) proviso as it existed at the time of incident was available and not a case where minimum sentence prescribed under proviso to Section 376(1) of seven years cannot be reduced on adequate and special reasons found and therefore the sentence of seven years can be reduced as is statutorily provided.
The court also noted the submission by the state that the accused has no criminal antecedents. Reducing the sentence to period already undergone, the bench said: "Looking into the facts and circumstances of the case that incident took place 30 years ago, that both the appellant and the prosecutrix having married (not with each other) and settled in life and the appellant having already undergone the sentence of one year and seven months, we are of the view that ends of justice would be served in reducing the sentence to the sentence already undergone."