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Trial/Appellate Court Has Full Discretion To Order Sentences To Run Concurrently: Supreme Court

Ashok KM
5 July 2022 11:44 AM GMT
Trial/Appellate Court Has Full Discretion To Order Sentences To Run Concurrently: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that Trial court and Appellate Court has full discretion to order sentences for two or more offences at one trial to run concurrently.

In this case, the Trial Court convicted the accused for the charges under Sections 409, 420, 409 read with Section 120­B and 420 read with Section 1 120B of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced them to undergo rigorous imprisonment of 04 years, 07 years, 01 year and 02 years respectively along with fine and also directed to serve the sentences one after the other. The Appellate Court upheld the judgment. The High Court while allowing the Revision in part directed that sentences so awarded shall run concurrently.

While considering the appeal, the Apex Court bench noted that there are concurrent findings of conviction arrived at by two Courts after detailed appreciation of the material and evidence brought on record,

"The High Court in criminal revision against conviction is not supposed to exercise the jurisdiction alike to the appellate Court and the scope of interference in revision is extremely narrow. Section 397 of Criminal Procedure Code (in short 'CrPC') vests jurisdiction for the purpose of satisfying itself or himself as to the correctness, legality or propriety of any finding, sentence or order, recorded or passed, 6 and as to the regularity of any proceedings of such inferior court. The object of the provision is to set right a patent defect or an error of jurisdiction or law. There has to be well­founded error which is to be determined on the merits of individual case. It is also well settled that while considering the same, the revisional Court does not dwell at length upon the facts and evidence of the case to reverse those findings.", the court noted.

Regarding the sentence part, the bench referred to Sunil Kumar @ Sudhir Kumar & Anr v. The State of Uttar Pradesh (Crl. Appeal 526 of 2021) and O.M. Cherian alias Thankachan v.State of Kerala & Ors. ­ (2015) 2 SCC 501, and observed thus:

On the issue of sentence also the direction as issued by the High Court is in consonance with the provisions of Section 31 of Cr.P.C which confer full discretion to the Trial Court as well as Appellate Court to order the sentences to run concurrently in case of conviction for two or more offences.

Observing thus, the bench dismissed the appeal.

In O.M. Cherian alias Thankachan, the Supreme Court had made the following observations:

"20. Under Section 31 CrPC it is left to the full discretion of the court to order the sentences to run concurrently in case of conviction for two or more offences. It is difficult to lay down any straitjacket approach in the matter of exercise of such discretion by the courts. By and large, trial courts and appellate courts have invoked and exercised their discretion to issue directions for concurrent running of sentences, favouring the benefit to be given to the accused. Whether a direction for concurrent running of sentences ought to be issued in a given case would depend upon the nature of the offence or offences committed and the facts and circumstances of the case. The discretion has to be exercised along the judicial lines and not mechanically."
"21. Accordingly, we answer the reference by holding that Section 31 CrPC leaves full discretion with the court to order sentences for two or more offences at one trial to run concurrently, having regard to the nature of offences and attendant aggravating or mitigating circumstances. We do not find any reason to hold that normal rule is to order the 9 sentence to be consecutive and exception is to make the sentences concurrent. Of course, if the court does not order the sentence to be concurrent, one sentence may run after the other, in such order as the court may direct. We also do not find any conflict in the earlier judgment in Mohd. Akhtar Hussain and Section 31 CrPC."


Case details

Malkeet Singh Gill vs State of Chhattisgarh | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 563 | CrA 915 OF 2022 | 5 July 2022

Coram: Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari

Counsel: Adv Awanish Kumar for the appellant and Deputy Advocate General Sourav Roy for the respondent-State

Headnotes

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 ; Section 31 - Trial Court as well as Appellate Court has full discretion to order the sentences to run concurrently in case of conviction for two or more offences - Referred to Sunil Kumar @ Sudhir Kumar & Anr v. The State of Uttar Pradesh (2021) 5 SCC 560. (Para 10-11)

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 ; Section 397 - The High Court in criminal revision against conviction is not supposed to exercise the jurisdiction alike to the appellate Court and the scope of interference in revision is extremely narrow. Section 397 CrPC vests jurisdiction for the purpose of satisfying itself or himself as to the correctness, legality or propriety of any finding, sentence or order, recorded or passed, and as to the regularity of any proceedings of such inferior court. The object of the provision is to set right a patent defect or an error of jurisdiction or law. There has to be well­ founded error which is to be determined on the merits of individual case - While considering the same, the revisional Court does not dwell at length upon the facts and evidence of the case to reverse those findings - Referred to Manju Ram Kalita vs State of Assam ­ (2009) 13 SCC 330. (Para 8-9)




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