No bar on sentencing beyond prescribed minimum sentence: Punjab & Haryana HC [Read Judgment]

No bar on sentencing beyond prescribed minimum sentence: Punjab & Haryana HC [Read Judgment]

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has upheld a Trial Court verdict which had sentenced convicts under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act to a punishment beyond prescribed minimum sentence.

Dismissing appeals filed by the convicts Choudhary Gulam Rasool and Masood Ahmed who were sentenced by the Trial court to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 20 years, Division Bench comprising of Justices Mahesh Grover and Lisa Gill observed that there is no bar to sentence the convicts to a punishment greater than the prescribed minimum by taking into account impact of the offence on society as a whole and its ramifications on the immediate collective.

The appellants had contended that they could not have been sentenced to a punishment beyond the prescribed minimum sentence of 10 years in this eventuality and therefore the sentence of 20 years rigorous imprisonment imposed upon them is excessive and should be reduced.

The Court, emphasizing the words “in addition to such factors as it may deem fit” in Section 32-B of the NDPS Act observed “A bare reading of the above-said provision makes it clear that there is no bar to impose a punishment higher than the prescribed minimum. It has been held by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in State of Punjab v. SaurabhBakshi, while dealing with the question of reduction of sentence imposed for the offence punishable under Section 304-A, that the court must be alive to the impact which the crime would have on society and should not be swayed by any misplaced sympathies. There can be no doubt about the impact of the offence in the present case on society as a whole and its ramifications on the immediate collective. The very fabric of society is seriously indented. “

The Court further remarked “Huge quantity of heroin i.e. five Kgs has been recovered from the conscious possession of the accused in the instant case. Purity of the said heroin ranges from 78.23% to 80.44%. The recovery of SIM cards of a neighbouring country points to a possibly wider network at Play hunting at cross border operations.”

Read the Live Law report of the Judgment in State of Punjab v. SaurabhBakshi wherein a Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant observed that, “The purpose of just punishment is designed so that the individuals in the society which ultimately constitute the collective do not suffer time and again for such crimes. It serves as a deterrent. True it is, on certain occasions, opportunities may be granted to the convict for reforming himself but it is equally true that the principle of proportionality between an offence committed and the penalty imposed are to be kept in view. While carrying out this complex exercise, it is obligatory on the part of the court to see the impact of the offence on the society as a whole and its ramifications on the immediate collective as well as its repercussions on the victim.”

Read the Judgment here.