IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 603-604 OF 2013
(Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) Nos. 2014-2015 of 2009)
Hazara Singh .... Appellant(s)
Raj Kumar & Ors. ....
J U D G M E N T
1) Leave granted.
2) These appeals are directed against the common final
judgment and order dated 03.11.2008 passed by the High
Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh in Criminal
Appeal No. 4-SB of 1997 and Criminal Revision No. 416 of
1997, whereby the High Court partly allowed the appeal filed
by the respondents herein by reducing the sentence
awarded to them to the period already undergone and
dismissed the revision preferred by the appellant herein.
3) Brief facts:
(a) According to the prosecution, on 25.04.1994, Dr. P.
Aggarwal, Medical Officer, C.H.C. Ladwa, sent a ruqa to the
Police Station informing that Mehma Singh, Piara Singh and
Hazara Singh have been admitted to the hospital after
allegedly having received injuries in a fight. Mehma Singh
was serious and had been referred to the L.N.J.P. Hospital,
Kurukshetra. After receipt of the said ruqa, on 26.04.1994,
Raj Pal Singh, S.I., In-charge Police Station, Babain, went to
the hospital and recorded the statements of the injured.
(b) Hazara Singh, in his statement, alleged that he was a
resident of village Kassithal and was an agriculturist. That
about 6/7 years back, he had purchased 6 kanals of disputed
agricultural land in village Rampura from one Sat Pal,
possession of which was delivered to him. He along with his
family members harvested wheat crop from that land and
had kept it in their adjoining field.
(c) On 25.04.1994, at about 6.30 p.m., his brother Piara
Singh was ploughing the above said land, with the help of a
tractor, while he along with his father was collecting the
harvested wheat crop in the adjoining field. At that time,
they suddenly, heard the noise of “bachao bachao” from his
brother Piara Singh. Thereafter, he noticed Piara Singh
jumping from the tractor and raising alarm coming towards
them and Kesho Ram and his brother, along with 5/6
persons, were lifting the harvested wheat crop and placing it
on the tractor. Raj Kumar was pouring diesel on the tractor
out of the can held by him. Then Kesho Ram lit the fire on
the tractor and Lal Chand and Bhag Singh ran after his
brother Piara Singh and encircled him. They started
inflicting lathi blows to his brother. He along with his father
went near their brother by raising alarm. When they
reached near their brother, Kesho Ram inflicted gandasi blow
over his head but he rescued it by lifting his right hand which
resulted in an injury in the middle of the right thumb and
fingers. Simultaneously, Annu and Tinna started inflicting
lathi blows upon him. In the meanwhile, Lal Chand, Raj
Kumar and Bhag Singh started inflicting injuries on his father
and caused grievous injuries. On hearing their alarm,
Lachman Singh and Bhagat Singh were attracted from the
nearby fields. On seeing them, all the accused with their
respective weapons, i.e., lathis and gandasis ran away. All
three of them became unconscious due to the said injuries.
When he regained consciousness, he found himself in the
(d) Upon this information, an FIR under Sections 148, 149,
323, 324, 435 and 447 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in
short “IPC”) was registered. After receipt of the opinion of
the doctor that the injuries sustained were dangerous to life,
an offence under Section 307 IPC was also added.
(e) After obtaining medical reports and completion of
investigation, all the accused were arrested and on their
disclosure statements, weapons of offence were recovered
and the case was committed to the Court of Sessions. After
hearing the parties, all the accused totaling six were charge
sheeted for the above-said offences. Out of the six accused,
two were held to be minors and were directed to be tried by
the Juvenile Court. The remaining four accused (respondent
Nos. 1 to 4 herein) pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
(f) The Additional Sessions Judge, Kurukshetra, by order
dated 21.12.1996, in Sessions Case No. 44 of 1994 convicted
all the accused persons, namely, Raj Kumar, Bhag Singh,
Kesho Ram and Lal Chand for the offence punishable under
Section 307 IPC and sentenced Raj Kumar and Bhag Singh to
undergo RI for 5 years and a fine of Rs.10,000/-, in default,
to further undergo RI for 1 year, whereas Kesho Ram and
Lal Chand to undergo RI for 3 years and a fine of Rs.
10,000/-, in default, to further undergo RI for 9 months. In
addition to the above, all the accused persons were
convicted and sentenced under different heads.
(g) Aggrieved by the said order of conviction and sentence,
the accused-respondents preferred Criminal Appeal No. 4-SB
of 1997 whereas the appellant preferred Criminal Revision
No. 416 of 1997 for enhancement of sentence before the
High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh.
(h) The High Court, by impugned order dated 03.11.2008,
dismissed the revision filed by the appellant and partly
allowed the appeal filed by the accused by reducing the
sentence to the period already undergone.
(i) Being dis-satisfied with the judgment of the High Court,
the appellant has preferred these appeals by way of special
leave before this Court.
4) Heard Mr. R.C. Kohli, learned counsel for the appellant,
Ms. Naresh Bakshi, learned counsel for the State of Haryana
and Mr. Ashwani Antil, learned counsel for respondent Nos. 1
5) The only point for consideration in these appeals is
whether the High Court is justified in reducing the sentence
awarded to the accused persons to the period already
undergone. In view of the limited question relating to
sentence alone urged before the High Court, there is no
difficulty in confirming the conviction under Section 307 IPC,
accordingly, we do so.
6) In order to understand the reasoning of the High Court
for reduction of sentence, it is but proper to refer Section
307 IPC which reads thus:
“307. Attempt to murder.- Whoever does any act with
such intention or knowledge, and under such
circumstances that, if he by that act caused death, he
would be guilty of murder, shall be punished with
imprisonment of either description for a term which may
extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if
hurt is caused to any person by such act, the offender shall
be liable either to imprisonment for life, or to such
punishment as is hereinabove mentioned.”
From the above, it is clear that the maximum punishment
provided therein is imprisonment for life or a term which
may extend to 10 years. Although Section 307 does not
expressly state the minimum sentence to be imposed, it is
the duty of the Courts to consider all the relevant factors to
impose an appropriate sentence. The legislature has
bestowed upon the judiciary this enormous discretion in the
sentencing policy, which must be exercised with utmost care
and caution. The punishment awarded should be directly
proportionate to the nature and the magnitude of the
offence. The benchmark of proportionate sentencing can
assist the judges in arriving at a fair and impartial verdict.
7) The cardinal principle of sentencing policy is that the
sentence imposed on an offender should reflect the crime he
has committed and it should be proportionate to the gravity
of the offence. This Court has repeatedly stressed the central
role of proportionality in sentencing of offenders in
8) The factual matrix of this case is similar to the facts and
circumstances of the case in Shailesh Jasvantbhai and
Another vs. State of Gujarat and others, (2006) 2 SCC
359, wherein the accused was convicted under Section
307/114 IPC and for the same the trial Court sentenced the
accused for 10 years. However, the High Court, in its
appellate jurisdiction, reduced the sentence to the period
already undergone. In this case, this Court held that the
sentence imposed is not proportionate to the offence
committed, hence not sustainable in the eyes of law. This
Court, observed thus:
“7. The law regulates social interests, arbitrates conflicting
claims and demands. Security of persons and property of
the people is an essential function of the State. It could be
achieved through instrumentality of criminal law.
Undoubtedly, there is a cross-cultural conflict where living
law must find answer to the new challenges and the courts
are required to mould the sentencing system to meet the
challenges. The contagion of lawlessness would undermine
social order and lay it in ruins. Protection of society and
stamping out criminal proclivity must be the object of law,
which must be achieved by imposing appropriate sentence.
Therefore, law as a cornerstone of the edifice of “order”
should meet the challenges confronting the society.
Friedman in his Law in Changing Society stated that: “State
of criminal law continues to be - as it should be -a decisive
reflection of social consciousness of society.” Therefore, in
operating the sentencing system, law should adopt the
corrective machinery or deterrence based on factual matrix.
By deft modulation, sentencing process be stern where it
should be, and tempered with mercy where it warrants to
be. The facts and given circumstances in each case, the
nature of the crime, the manner in which it was planned and
committed, the motive for commission of the crime, the
conduct of the accused, the nature of weapons used and all
other attending circumstances are relevant facts which
would enter into the area of consideration.
8. Therefore, undue sympathy to impose inadequate
sentence would do more harm to the justice system to
undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law and
society could not long endure under such serious threats. It
is, therefore, the duty of every court to award proper
sentence having regard to the nature of the offence and the
manner in which it was executed or committed etc.”
9) This position was reiterated by a three-Judge Bench
of this Court in Ahmed Hussein Vali Mohammed Saiyed
and Anr. vs. State of Gujarat, (2009) 7 SCC 254, wherein
it was observed as follows:-
“99.….The object of awarding appropriate sentence should
be to protect the society and to deter the criminal from
achieving the avowed object to law by imposing
appropriate sentence. It is expected that the courts would
operate the sentencing system so as to impose such
sentence, which reflects the conscience of the society and
the sentencing process has to be stern where it should be.
Any liberal attitude by imposing meager sentences or
taking too sympathetic view merely on account of lapse of
time in respect of such offences will be result-wise counter
productive in the long run and against the interest of
society which needs to be cared for and strengthened by
string of deterrence inbuilt in the sentencing system.
100. Justice demands that courts should impose
punishment befitting the crime so that the courts reflect
public abhorrence of the crime. The court must not only
keep in view the rights of the victim of the crime and the
society at large while considering the imposition of
appropriate punishment. The court will be failing in its duty
if appropriate punishment is not awarded for a crime which
has been committed not only against the individual victim
but also against the society to which both the criminal and
the victim belong.”
In this case, the court further goes to state that meager
sentence imposed solely on account of lapse of time without
considering the degree of the offence will be counter
productive in the long run and against the interest of society.
10) In Jameel vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (2010) 12
SCC 532, this Court reiterated the principle by stating that
the punishment must be appropriate and proportional to the
gravity of the offence committed. Speaking about the
concept of sentencing, this Court observed thus: -
“15. In operating the sentencing system, law should adopt
the corrective machinery or deterrence based on factual
matrix. By deft modulation, sentencing process be stern
where it should be, and tempered with mercy where it
warrants to be. The facts and given circumstances in each
case, the nature of the crime, the manner in which it was
planned and committed, the motive for commission of the
crime, the conduct of the accused, the nature of weapons
used and all other attending circumstances are relevant
facts which would enter into the area of consideration.
16. It is the duty of every court to award proper sentence
having regard to the nature of the offence and the manner
in which it was executed or committed. The sentencing
courts are expected to consider all relevant facts and
circumstances bearing on the question of sentence and
proceed to impose a sentence commensurate with the
gravity of the offence.”
11) In Guru Basavaraj @ Benne Settapa vs. State of
Karnataka, (2012) 8 SCC 734, while discussing the concept
of appropriate sentence, this Court expressed that:
“It is the duty of the court to see that appropriate sentence
is imposed regard being had to the commission of the
crime and its impact on the social order. The cry of the
collective for justice, which includes adequate punishment
cannot be lightly ignored.”
12) Recently, this Court in Gopal Singh vs. State of
Uttarakhand JT 2013 (3) SC 444 held as under:-
“18. Just punishment is the collective cry of the society.
While the collective cry has to be kept uppermost in the
mind, simultaneously the principle of proportionality
between the crime and punishment cannot be totally
brushed aside. The principle of just punishment is the
bedrock of sentencing in respect of a criminal offence…..”
13) We reiterate that in operating the sentencing system,
law should adopt the corrective machinery or deterrence
based on factual matrix. The facts and given circumstances
in each case, the nature of the crime, the manner in which it
was planned and committed, the motive for commission of
the crime, the conduct of the accused, the nature of
weapons used and all other attending circumstances are
relevant facts which would enter into the area of
consideration. We also reiterate that undue sympathy to
impose inadequate sentence would do more harm to the
justice system to undermine the public confidence in the
efficacy of law. It is the duty of every court to award proper
sentence having regard to the nature of the offence and the
manner in which it was executed or committed. The Court
must not only keep in view the rights of the victim of the
crime but also the society at large while considering the
imposition of appropriate punishment.
14) With these principles, let us consider whether the
reasons rendered by the impugned judgment falls within the
parameter of the established principles. The relevant
paragraph in the impugned judgment are as under:-
“……Stress is that Raj Kumar has undergone 14 months of
sentence and so as Bhag Singh six months of sentence
whereas Kehso Ram and Lal Chand have undergone two
months’ sentence each and they are facing the agony of
trial since 1994. The purpose of criminal law justice is to
bring discipline, peace and harmony in the society and also
to give an opportunity to an erring individual to reform
himself. In appropriate cases, leniency be shown and
opportunity is required to be given to the accused to
reform themselves by adopting reformative approach. It is
not in dispute that the parties are co-villagers. It has also
not been indicated that during all these years, they had
any further tiff among themselves. If the appellants are
sent behind bars, it will revive the old enmity between the
parties in the village. They have already suffered agony of
long trial/appeal for the last 14 years. Therefore it would be
expedient in the interest of justice to take a lenient view
that the sentence awarded to he accused deserves to be
modified and the injured complainants can be granted
15) Now, let us analyze the reasoning mentioned in the
impugned judgment for reduction of sentence. It was
mentioned before the High Court that Raj Kumar has
undergone 14 months of sentence, Bhag Singh has
undergone six months of sentence, Kesho Ram and Lal
Chand have undergone two months of sentence each. It was
also noted by the High Court that they were facing the agony
of trial since 1994. In addition to the same, the High Court
has noted that both the parties are co-villagers and during
pendency of these proceedings, they had no further tiff
among themselves. If the accused are sent behind bars, it
will revive the old enmity between the accused and the
victim’s family. Mentioning these facts, the High Court has
concluded that in the interest of justice, it is but proper to
take a lenient view and that the sentence awarded to the
accused deserves to be modified and the injured
complainants be granted compensation. By saying so, the
High Court reduced the sentence to the period already
undergone by them and directed the accused to pay a sum
of Rs.25,000/- each as compensation to all the three injured
persons, namely, Mehma Singh, Piara Singh and Hazara
Singh within three months from the date of its order, failing
which the appeal filed by them shall be treated as dismissed.
16) For the reasons best known to it, the State has not
challenged the said order of the High Court before this Court.
On the other hand, one of the complainants’, namely, Hazara
Singh has filed the present appeals by way of special leave
petitions. We have already concluded that the conviction
relating to the offence punishable under Section 307 is
confirmed, in fact, it was not at all challenged. In the
present appeals, learned counsel appearing for the appellant
pointed out that considering the serious nature of the
injuries, period of treatment, agony undergone, reduction of
sentence to the period already undergone i.e. for a period of
few months is not justifiable and the decision of the High
Court is to be set aside and the order of the trial Court is to
17) It is not in dispute that three persons were injured at
the hands of the accused persons and all of them were
examined by the doctors. Their injuries were evidenced by
certificates issued by the doctors, who treated them, which
“PW-1 is Dr. K.K. Chawla, Medical Officer, L.N.J.P. Hospital,
Kurukshetra, who has proved x-ray report Ex.PA with
regard to Hazara Singh and has opined that as per x-ray of
left knee, it showed fracture of patilla left with regard to
remaining 5 injuries, i.e. X-ray of skull, left thigh, left
forearm, right hand and left shoulder of the injured, he has
stated that no bonny injury was found. With regard to
injured Piara Singh, he has stated that X-ray skull showed
no bonny injury. Simultaneously, x-ray chest right forearm
and left ankle showed no bonny injury. However, there
was fracture of left scapula as per x-ray of left shoulder.
The report in this behalf is Ex.PB.
PW-2, Dr. P. Aggarwal, Medical Officer, C.H.C. Ladwa, has
examined Mehma Singh on 25.04.1994 at 9.25 p.m. and
found the following injuires on his person:-
1. Lacerated wound 1-1/2 cm x ½ cm x bone deep on the
left parietal region, 3 cm posterior to anterior hair line.
Surrounding parts in diameter of 8 cm was swollen.
Swelling was boggy in nature. X-ray and surgeon’s
opinion was advised.
2. Left eye was swollen and reddish blue in colour. Both
lids were swollen. Swelling was extending upto
forehead. X-ray and eye surgeon’s opinion was advised.
3. Contusion 10 cm x 1 cm each two in number on back of
left side of chest situated perpendicular on each other.
X-ray was advised.
4. Contusion 12 cm x 2 cm on outer side of left side of
abdomen x-ray and surgeon’s opinion was advised.
5. Lower half of left fore-arm was swollen. Crepitus was
present. X-ray was advised.
6. Two contusions on left buttock, surrounding parts
swollen, x-ray was advised.
7. Abrasion 1 cm x ½ cm on right side of nose bridge. Xray was advised.
He also examined Hazara Singh, son of Mehma Singh at
9.50 p.m. and found the following injuries on his person:
1. Lacerated wound 3 cm x ½ cm into bone deep on left
parietal region situated anterior posteriorily, 3 cm
posterior to anterior hair line. Fresh bleeding was
present. X-ray and surgeon’s opinion was advised.
2. Contusion 12 cm x 3 cm on antro lateral side of middle
of left thigh. Surrounding parts were swollen. X-ray
3. Swelling was present on middle half of left fore-arm. Xray was advised.
4. Incised wound 1 cm x ½ cm, x muscle deep on outer
side of right palm in between index finger and thumb.
Margins were cleancut. Fresh bleeding was present. Xray was advised.
5. Abrasions 2 cm x 1 cm x 1 cm on back of right shoulder.
Movements were painful. X-ray was advised.
6. Lacerated wound 1 cm x ½ cm x skin deep on right sole
near base of second toe.
That during examination of the patient routine checking on
26.04.1994, he found one more injury on the person of
Hazara Singh as under:-
“There was faint reddish swelling, diffused all around the
left knee. Patient was complaining of severe pain. Injury
was tender to touch. Movements were painful and
restricted. X-ray left knee was advised.”
All the injuries on the person of Mehma Singh were found
to have been caused by blunt weapon. All the injuries
except injury No.4 on the person of Hazara Singh was
found to have been caused by blunt weapon. Injury No.4
was caused by sharp weapon.
That this doctor witness also examined Piara Singh at
10.05 p.m. and found the following 6 injuries on his
1. Lacerated wound 1-1/2 cm x ½ cm x bone deep on
middle of scalp with fresh bleeding situated 12 cm
posterior to anterial hair-line. X-ray and surgeon’s
opinion was advised.
2. Reddish swelling, diffused on back of left shoulder.
Movements of shoulder were very painful. Tenderness
was present. X-ray was advised.
3. Contusion 18 cm x 2 cm on lateral side of left side of
chest and abdomen situated vertically.
4. Abrasion 4 cm x 1 cm on back of right side of chest
surrounding parts were swollen. X-ray was advised.
5. Swelling diffused present on lower 3rd of right forearm.
X-ray was advised.
6. Diffused swelling near left medial mallelous was
present. Movement at ankle joint was painful. X-ray
All the injuries were caused by blunt weapon. Medical
Report in this behalf is Ex. PE and diagram showing seat of
injuries in this behalf is Ex. PE/1.
This witness has further proved his report Ex. PG to the
effect that the injury No.1 shown in supplementary M.L.R.
i.e. Ex. PH on the person of Hazara Singh was found to be
grievous. He also proved report Ex. PK to the effect that
injury No.2 on the person of Piara Singh, was also grievous
and rest were simple. He has also stated that on
28.04.1994, he received operation note of Mehma Singh
from P.G.I. Chandigarh, whereupon, he sent intimation Ex.
PL to the Police and declared injuries No.1 and 2 as
dangerous to life.
That PW-3 Dr. P. Vara Prasad, S.M.O., Casualty, P.G.I.
Chandigarh has proved his endorsement Ex. PM/1 and Ex.
PM/3 to the effect that on 02.06.1994 and 22.07.1994,
when the police wanted his opinion, Mehma Singh injured
was unfit for statement.
That PW-15, Hazara Singh injured, PW-16 Jaspal Singh, eyewitness, PW-17 Piara Singh injured and PW-19, Mehma
Singh injured, have broadly supported the case of the
After analyzing the above injuries with reference to the
specific evidence by the doctors concerned and the
certificates issued, the trial Court came to the following
“a) In the present case, the prosecution has been able to
show that the witness was unable to speak during
investigation. Even, Dr. Ashwani Kumar Chaudhary, while
appearing in the witness box as PW-18, on 02.04.1996, has
stated after examining the witness orally in the Court, that
his speech was blurred. When Mehma Singh appeared as
PW-19, he was feeling difficulty in speaking but since he
could be understood, what he wanted to say, his statement
was recorded. The perusal of his statement further shows
that during his examination, he was feeling difficulty in
speaking the name of the accused and he was allowed to
touch their person to depose about the part played by each
of the accused. As per the case of the prosecution, the
witness was injured in the occurrence and as such no
prejudice was caused to the accused in examining the
witness for the first time in Court.
b) That in view of the statements of these eyewitnesses coupled with the medical evidence, it is proved
that the accused caused injuries in the manner
propounded by the prosecution. Although, the prosecution
has discharged its onus in proving its case, yet, to analyze
the defence, at this stage, would be relevant for the
purpose of deciding the complicity.
c) Resultantly, thus, I hold that on the date of
occurrence, the injured party were in possession of the
disputed land. The occurrence took place in the manner
propounded by the prosecution and further that the
accused have not acted in the right of private defence and
d) In this view of the matter, and the fact that all the
accused formed an unlawful assembly and entered into the
field belonging to the injured and being in their possession,
they have committed an offence punishable under Sections
148 and 447 of the Indian Penal Code.
e) The version of burning of the tractor by the accused
in furtherance of their common object of the assembly, has
been found proved and as such, they have also committed
an offence punishable under Section 435 read with 149 of
the Indian Penal Code.
f) It is proved that Bhag Singh inflicted injury with blunt
weapon on the left shoulder of Piara Singh. Copy of X-ray
report in this behalf is Ex. PB which shows fracture of bone.
He has thus committed an offence punishable under
Section 325 and the other accused are also liable for an
offence under Section 325 read with 149 of the Indian
g) In view of the M.L.R. of Hazara Singh, injury No. 4
was caused by sharp edged weapon i.e. gandasi by Kesho
Ram and he himself has held liable for an offence under
Section 324 of IPC and the other accused being members
of an unlawful assembly are liable for an offence under
Section 324 read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal
h) It is also proved that all the accused voluntarily
caused simple hurt to Mehma Singh, Piara Singh and
Hazara Singh and held themselves liable for an offence
under Section 323 read with Section 149 of the Indian
i) With regard to the offence under Section 307 IPC, Raj
Kumar accused has been charge-sheeted individually, for
causing the injury on the head of Mehma Singh with an
intention or knowledge and under such circumstances, that
if by that act, he had caused death of said Mehma Singh,
he would have been guilty of murder. The other accused
have been charge-sheeted with the aid of Section 149 of
IPC Bhag Singh accused, was also individually charged for
offence under Section 307 IPC and other accused were also
charged with the aid of Section 149 IPC for the act of Bhag
18) The trial Court, after detailed analysis of the evidence
of doctors and the certificates issued, convicted the above
accused persons and passed the following sentence:
“a) Accused Raj Kumar U/s 307 IPC – RI for 5 years and fine
of Rs.10,000/- in default further RI of 1 year.
b) Accused Bhag Singh U/s 307 IPC – RI for 5 years and
fine of Rs.10,000/- in default further RI for 1 year.
c) Accused Kesho Ram U/s 307 IPC – RI of 3 years and
fine of Rs.10,000/- in default further RI for 9 months
d) Accused Lal Chand U/s 307 IPC – RI of 3 years and
fine of Rs.10,000/- in default further RI for 9 months.
Addition to the above all accused respondents were
awarded following sentence:-
U/s 325 IPC – RI for 2 years and a fine of Rs.2,000/- in
default further sentence for 6 months RI.
U/s 324 IPC – RI for 1 year
U/s 447 IPC – RI for 1 month
U/s 323 IPC – RI for 6 months.
U/s 148 IPC – RI for one year.
U/s 435 IPC – RI for 2 years with fine of Rs.10,000/- each in
default further sentence of RI for 6 months.”
19) It is clear that the High Court failed to take note of the
fact that as per the medical evidence, Injury No.1 shown in
supplement MLR on the person of Hazara Singh was found to
be grievous. Injury No.2 on the person of Piara Singh was
also found to be grievous whereas Injury Nos. 1 and 2
caused to Mehma Singh one was declared as dangerous to
life and it is also on record that injured Mehma Singh had
also lost his speech.
20) As rightly pointed out by learned counsel for the
appellant, the High Court failed to appreciate that the trial
Court has come to the conclusion that in view of the
statement of injured eye-witnesses coupled with medical
evidence, it is proved that the accused caused injuries in the
manner explained by the prosecution and passed
appropriate sentence to the accused respondents. We have
already stated that while dismissing the revision for
enhancement of sentence at the instance of the present
appellant and partly allowing the order of reduction of
sentence, the High Court has assigned only two reasons,
viz., “one, if the accused are sent behind bars, it will
revive the old enmity between the parties in the
village and secondly, the accused also suffered agony
of long trial/appeal for the last 14 years.”
21) It is unfortunate that the High Court failed to appreciate
that the reduction of sentence merely on the ground of long
pending trial is not justifiable. In Sadha Singh and
Another vs. State of Punjab, (1985) 3 SCC 225, a three
Judge Bench of this Court, while considering the identical
issue which also arose for an offence under Section 307 and
reduction of substantive sentence by the High Court, held as
“5. … We must confess that what ought to be the proper
sentence in a given case is left to the discretion of the trial
court, which discretion has to be exercised on sound
judicial principles. Various relevant circumstances which
have a bearing on the question of sentence have to be
kept in view. Before deciding the quantum of sentence the
learned Sessions Judge has to hear both the sides as
required by the relevant provision of the Code of Criminal
6. In an appeal against the conviction, it is open to the
High Court to alter or modify or reduce the sentence after
confirming conviction. If the High Court is of the opinion
that the sentence is heavy or unduly harsh or requires to
be modified, the same must be done on well recognised
judicial dicta. Therefore, we may first notice the reasons
which appealed to the learned Judge to reduce the
substantive sentence awarded to the appellants to
While rejecting the similar reasons as stated by the High
Court in the present case, the following conclusion arrived at
by this Court are relevant:
“7. …. The learned Judge then took notice of the fact that
three co-accused of the appellants were given benefit of
doubt by the trial court and acquitted them although they
were also attributed causing of some injuries. If acquittal of
some co-accused casts a cloud of doubt over the entire
prosecution case, the whole case may be rejected. But we
fail to understand how acquittal of some of the accused
can have any relevance to the question of sentence
awarded to those who are convicted. In this case the
prosecution submitted that these two appellants alone
were armed with guns. Then the learned Judge observes
that no useful purpose, will be served by sending the
appellants to prison again to undergo the unexpired period
of their sentence. We repeatedly asked why this
indulgence and waited for answer in vain. If someone is
enlarged on bail during the pendency of appeal and when
the appeal is dismissed sending him back to jail is going to
raise qualms of conscience in the Judge, granting of bail
pending appeal would be counter-productive.
One can preempt or forestall the decision by obtaining an order of bail.
8. If the learned Judge had in mind the provisions of
Section 360 of CrPC so as to extend the benefit of
treatment reserved for first offenders, these appellants
hardly deserve the same.
Admittedly, both the appellants
were above the age of 21 years on the date of committing
They have wielded dangerous weapons like
firearms. Four shots were fired.
The only fortunate part of
the occurrence is that the victim escaped death.
offence committed by the appellants is proved to be one
under Section 307 of IPC punishable with imprisonment for
We were told that the appellants had hardly suffered
imprisonment for three months. If the offence is under
Section 307 IPC i.e. attempt to commit murder which is
punishable with imprisonment for life and the sentence to
be awarded is imprisonment for three months, it is better
not to award substantive sentence as it makes mockery of
Mr Jain said that the High Court has enhanced the
fine and compensated the injured and, therefore, we
should not enhance the sentence. Accepting such a
submission would mean that if your pockets can afford,
commit serious crime, offer to pay heavy fine and escape
tentacles of law. Power of wealth need not extend to
overawe court processes. Thus it appears that the High
Court wrongly interfered with the order of sentence on
wholly untenable and irrelevant grounds some of them not
borne out by the record. In order, therefore, to avoid
miscarriage of justice we must interfere and set aside the
sentence imposed by the High Court and restore the
sentence imposed by the learned Sessions Judge which we
hereby order. Both the appellants shall be taken into
custody forthwith to suffer their sentence.”
22) Applying the same principles in State of U.P. vs.
Nankau Prasad Misra and Others, (2005) 10 SCC 503,
this Court set aside the judgment of the High Court reducing
the sentence without adequate reasons.
23) The second ground relied on by the High Court is that it
will further the enmity between the families of victim and the
In our considered view, this ground is irrelevant for
the purpose of determining the sentence to be awarded to
the accused. The Courts cannot let the accused go scot-free
on mere suspicion of eruption of enmity between the
24) In our view, the reduction of sentence passed by the
High Court without appreciating the nature of offence,
grievous injuries of witnesses/victims, is unsustainable.
25) In addition to the factual matrix discussed in the earlier
paras, Dr. Ashwani Kumar Chaudhary (PW-18), after
examining the witness Mehma Singh, (PW-19), has stated
that his speech was blurred and he was feeling difficulty in
speaking. We are satisfied that from the statements of eyewitnesses coupled with the medical evidence, it is proved
that the accused caused injuries in the manner as
propounded by the prosecution. It is also proved that Bhag
Singh inflicted injury with a blunt weapon on the left
shoulder of Piara Singh. Likewise, the M.L.R. of Hazara Singh
proves that the injury was caused by a sharp-edged weapon
i.e. gandasa by Kesho Ram. The High Court has failed to
take note of a very relevant fact that with regard to the
offence under Section 307 IPC, Raj Kumar has been charge
sheeted individually for causing grievous injury on the head
of Mehma Singh with an intention or knowledge and under
such circumstances, if by that act, he had caused death of
the said Mehma Singh, he would have been guilty of murder.
26) Under these circumstances, we hold that the High Court
has wrongly interfered with the order of sentence on wholly
untenable and irrelevant grounds, some of them even not
borne out on record. To avoid miscarriage of justice, we
must interfere and accordingly, we set aside the sentence
imposed by the High Court and restore the sentence
imposed by the trial Court. All the respondents-accused,
namely, Raj Kumar, Keshav Ram, Lal Chand and Bhag Singh
shall be taken into custody forthwith to serve the remaining
period of sentence as ordered by the trial Court. The
appeals are allowed.
(ARJAN KUMAR SIKRI)
APRIL 18, 2013.