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Severity Of Sentence Is Not The Only Determinant For Doing Justice To Victims: Supreme Court Reduces Sentence Imposed On Rape Convict

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
16 March 2022 9:41 AM GMT
Severity Of Sentence Is Not The Only Determinant For Doing Justice To Victims: Supreme Court Reduces Sentence Imposed On Rape Convict
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The Supreme Court observed that the severity of sentence is not the only determinant for doing justice to the victims.In determining the quantum of sentence, the Court must bear in mind the circumstances pertaining to the offence and all other relevant circumstances including the age of the offender, the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant said.In this case, the appellant...

The Supreme Court observed that the severity of sentence is not the only determinant for doing justice to the victims.

In determining the quantum of sentence, the Court must bear in mind the circumstances pertaining to the offence and all other relevant circumstances including the age of the offender, the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant said.

In this case, the appellant was convicted under Section 376  and sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5000. He was also convicted under (ii) Section 363 – 5 years' rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 5000; (iii) Section 366 – 10 years' rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 5000; (iv) Section 307 – 10 years' rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 5000; and (v) Section 354 – 2 years' rigorous imprisonment. 

Before the Apex Court, it was contended that the appellant was twenty years old on the date of offence and has now undergone 11 years of imprisonment. Hence, it was requested that the quantum of sentence which has been imposed should be suitably modified to such an extent as the Court deems appropriate having regard to the need for reformation of the appellant. The State opposed this plea contending that as the victim was assaulted on the head after the alleged act, the sentence of life imprisonment should meet the ends of justice.

In this regard, the court referred to Justice Krishna Iyer's judgment in Dharambir v. State of Uttar Pradesh (1979) 3 SCC 645  which noted the impact of longer prison sentences on convicts who are young. Also referring to observations made in the judgment in Maru Ram v. Union of India (1981) 1 SCC 107, the court said:

In our view, the ends of justice would be met by directing that instead and in place of the sentence of life imprisonment which has been imposed for the conviction under Section 376, the appellant shall stand sentenced to a term of 15 years' imprisonment. We are not inclined to uphold the argument of the respondent-state that only the sentence of life imprisonment would meet the ends of justice. The principles of restorative justice find place within the Indian Constitution and severity of sentence is not the only determinant for doing justice to the victims.

In Maru Ram, Justice Krishna Iyer had observed thus:

We are afraid there is a confusion about fundamentals in mixing up victimology with penology to warrant retributive severity by the back-door. If crime claims a victim criminology must include victimology as a major component of its concerns. Indeed, when a murder or other grievous offence is committed the dependants or other aggrieved persons must receive reparation and the social responsibility of the criminal to restore the loss or heal the injury is part of the punitive exercise. But the length of the prison term is no reparation to the crippled or bereaved and is futility compounded with cruelty. "Can storied urn or animated bust call to its mansion the fleeting breath?" Equally emphatically, given perspicacity and freedom from sadism, can flogging the killer or burning his limbs or torturing his psychic being bring balm to the soul of the dead by any process of thanatology or make good the terrible loss caused by the homicide? Victimology, a burgeoning branch of humane criminal justice, must find fulfilment, not through barbarity but by compulsory recoupment by the wrongdoer of the damage inflicted, not by giving more pain to the offender but by lessening the loss of the forlorn.


Headnotes

Criminal Trial - Sentencing -  In determining the quantum of sentence, the Court must bear in mind the circumstances pertaining to the offence and all other relevant circumstances including the age of the offender - The principles of restorative justice find place within the Indian Constitution and severity of sentence is not the only determinant for doing justice to the victims. [Referred to Dharambir v. State of Uttar Pradesh (1979) 3 SCC 645, Maru Ram v. Union of India (1981) 1 SCC 107 ] (Para 7,8)

Summary: Appellant convicted under Section 376,363,366, 307, 354 and sentenced to life imprisonment sought modification of sentence- Sentenced to a term of 15 years' imprisonment - Appellant has undergone actual imprisonment for a period of 11 years as on date - The ends of justice would be met by directing that instead and in place of the sentence of life imprisonment which has been imposed for the conviction under Section 376, the appellant shall stand sentenced to a term of 15 years' imprisonment.

Case details

Vipul Rasikbhai Koli Jankher  | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 288 |  Crl.A.407/2022 | 11 March 2022

Coram: Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant

Counsel: Adv Harinder Mohan Singh for appellant, Adv Archana Pathak Dave for respondent - State


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