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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reduction of sentence = whether reducing the sentence awarded by the trial Court from three years Rigorous Imprisonment with a fine of Rs.1,000/- to each of the accused persons, with default clause, to that of the period already undergone is correct = . High Court was of opinion that injuries has not been caused on vital parts of the body. In order to attract Section 307, the injury need not be on the vital parts of the body. In order to attract Section 307, causing of hurt is sufficient. If anybody does any act with intention or knowledge that by his act he might cause death and hurt is caused, that is sufficient to attract life imprisonment. Section 307 uses the word ‘hurt’ which has been explained in Section 319, IPC and not “grievous hurt” within the meaning of Section 320, IPC. Therefore, in order to attract Section 307, the injury need not be on the vital part of the body. A gun shot, as in the present case, may miss the vital part of the body, may result in a lacerated wound, that itself is sufficient to attract Section 307. High Court is, therefore, in error in reducing the sentence, holding that the injury was not on the vital part of the body. Period undergone by way of sentence also in our view is not commensurate with the guilt established. We, therefore, find no good reason to interfere with the judgment of the trial court. Consequently, the appeal is allowed and judgment of the High Court reducing the sentence is set aside and the judgment and order of the trial Court are restored.

                                  published in      http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40612             
            REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1052 OF 2013
                [Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 6131 of 2012]

State of M.P.                                      .. Appellant
                                   Versus
Mohan & Others                                     .. Respondents


                               J U D G M E N T


K. S. Radhakrishnan, J.


      Leave granted.


2.    State is aggrieved by the order of the  High  Court  dated  13.12.2011
passed in CRLA No. 898 of 2007, reducing the sentence awarded by  the  trial
Court from three years Rigorous Imprisonment with a fine  of  Rs.1,000/-  to each of the accused persons, with default clause,  to  that  of  the  period already undergone.



3.    Respondents herein were charge-sheeted  for  the  offences  punishable
under Sections 294, 307 read with Section 34  IPC  and  were  convicted  and
sentenced as stated above.  
The  incident  leading  to  the  above  charges
occurred on 11.6.2006 at  11.00  O’clock  in  the  night  when  complainants
attempted to drive away the animals of the accused persons  trespassed  into
their  courtyard.   Accused  persons,  infuriated  by  the  conduct  of  the
complainants, reached the spot of the incident  and  started  abusing  them.
One of the accused, Ummed Singh, using his  fire  arm,  fired  a  gun  shot,
which hit Lalaram, one of the complainants on his back and  the  complainant
including Lalaram in order to save their  lives  ran  away  from  the  spot.
Ummed Singh again fired another  gunshot,  which  hit  Mogh  Singh,  another
complainant.   Due to the injuries sustained by Lalaram, he fell down.   The
accused persons committed the same in furtherance of their common  intention
or knowledge that their  actions  would  result  in  causing  death  to  the
complainants.

4.    The prosecution, in order  to  establish  the  guilt  of  the  accused
persons, examined large number of witnesses including PW14, the  doctor  who
examined the injured persons.  The defence also adduced oral evidence.

5.    Dr. Sudhir Rathore (PW-14) examined the injured Lalaram  on  12.6.2006
and found the following injuries on his person:
        i) Lacerated wound having diameter of 0.5 cm. over scalp  occipital
           region and skin deep blackening seen all around the wound.
       ii) Lacerated wound of 0.5cm over left scapular  region  and  muscle
           deep blackening seen all around the wound.
      iii) Lacerated wound of 0.5 cm. over right arm middle,  1/3rd  medial
           aspect and blackening seen all around.


      P.W.14, after examining Kamar Lal on 12.2.2006, noticed the  following
injuries on him:
      (i)  Lacerated wound of 0.5 cm on the right thumb and the  blackening
           was present all around the injury.
      (ii) Lacerated wound of 0.5 cm on the lateral aspect.

6.     P.W.14  also  examined  the  father  of  the  complainant  and  found
lacerated wound of 0.5 cm on the vertex part of the head and the  blackening
was found all around the wound.   Doctor  deposed  that  the  injuries  were
caused by the use of the firearm.

7.    The trial  court  after  appreciating  the  entire  evidence  held  as
follows:
      “46. In the night at 11  O’  clock  coming  of  the  accused  persons
      equipped with weapons and firing at the informant side not only  once
      rather several times and to do so without any provocation and at  the
      time of occurrence there intention also that killed all of them, show
      this common intention of the accused  persons  that  in  reality  the
      intention of the accused persons was to kill the informant side.


      48.  In such circumstance for concluding the intention of the accused
      persons the selection of the vehicle used in the  crime  by  them  is
      very important, which is in the circumstance of the present  case  is
      gun and according to the report (Exhibit P.26), the  pellet,  article
      ‘D’ has been examined this can be fired from the gun,  article  ‘A-1’
      and an one barreled gun of 12 bore even the examination of which  has
      been done by the Assistant Chemical Examiner and the Senior Scientist
      Officer, according to that it was in the operative condition and from
      the residue found in the barreled of which the  presence  of  nitrite
      has been found to be positive which shows this that this gun has been
      used and although conclusively this cannot be said that when  it  has
      been used for  the  last  time,  because  scientifically  it  is  not
      possible to tell this with certainty.”


8.    The trial Court, after holding  the  accused  persons  guilty  of  the
charges leveled against them, took a lenient view, though the  term  of  the
sentence under Section 307 IPC may extend to life imprisonment, if  hurt  is
caused to any person by such an act and held as follows:


      “58.  The entire circumstances was studied.   The accused persons  are
      farmers and both the side are of same family.  Among them the  dispute
      of partition is pending.  Prominently  and  importantly  the  injuries
      which have been sustained by the injured persons, except the injury of
      thumb others are of superficial nature the doctor has not given report
      regarding any injury  to  be  fatal;  therefore  in  the  well-thought
      opinion it is very essential to give this much sentence to the accused
      persons, due to which they can realize the seriousness of their  crime
      and which is in accordance with the offence committed by them.”



9.    Taking note  of  the  above  aspects,  the  trial  Court,  as  already
indicated,  sentenced  all  the  accused  persons  to  suffer  three  years’
rigorous imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/- each and  in  case  of
default of payment of fine, the accused  persons  were  ordered  to  undergo
rigorous imprisonment for further one year.

10.   In the appeal before the High Court, the accused persons  stated  that
they had already deposited the fine and are challenging only on the  quantum
of sentence.   Further, it was also submitted that the accused persons  were
not persons of criminal antecedent.  The High Court, we may  say  so,  by  a
cryptic order reduced the sentence awarded to the  accused  persons  to  the
period already undergone by them.  The relevant portion of the order of  the
High Court is extracted hereunder:
            “Considering the nature of offence  and  the  period  which  has
      already undergone by the appellants, further considering the fact that
      the injury has not been caused on vital part, seems to  be  sufficient
      for  the  ends  of  justice.   Therefore,  the  appeal  filed  by  the
      appellants  is  partly  allowed  maintaining  the  conviction  of  the
      appellants and their jail sentences are reduced to already undergone.”


11.   Even though the High Court has  stated  that  the  sentence  is  being
reduced taking note of the nature of the offence and the  fact  that  injury
has not been caused on the vital parts  of  the  body,  we  notice,  it  has
neither been discussed nor referred to the nature  of  the  offence  or  the
injuries.   The High Court also not examined whether  the  period  undergone
would be sufficient  and  commensurate  with  the  guilt  established.   The
following chart also would indicate the period the accused persons spent  in
judicial custody:
|S. No.        |Name of the   |Date of arrest|Date of       |Days of       |
|              |accused       |              |release       |Custody       |
|1.            |Mohan Singh   |12.06.06      |31.07.06      |50 days       |
|              |Dhakad        |              |              |              |
|2.            |Ummed Singh   |13.06.06      |08.01.2007    |211 Days      |
|              |Dhakad        |              |              |              |
|3.            |Balbir Singh  |17.06.2006    |25.07.2006    |39 Days       |
|              |Dhakad        |              |              |              |
|4.            |Hiralal Yadav |03.07.2006    |25.07.2006    |23 Days       |

12.   PW14, the doctor, has explained the nature of injuries and use of  the
firearm for causing  the  injuries.   Fire  arm,  it  is  proved,  was  used
repeatedly against the complainants, causing bodily hurt.   This  Court  had
occasion to consider the scope of  Section  307,  IPC  in  Sadha  Singh  and
Another v. State of Punjab  (1985)  3  SCC  225,  wherein  the  trial  Court
awarded the substantive sentence of three  years  of  rigorous  imprisonment
and also imposed a fine, which were reduced by the High Court  to  a  period
of three months of imprisonment already undergone by  the  accused,  but  by
enhancing the fine.  This Court held that the reduction of the sentence  was
not justified.   In that case also, the  doctor  opined  that  the  injuries
were caused by firearm, just like the present case.  This  Court,  reversing
the judgment of the High Court and upholding that of the trial  Court,  held
as follows:

           “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 the offence.  They  have  wielded  dangerous  weapons  like
      firearms. Four shots were  fired.  The  only  fortunate  part  of  the
      occurrence is that the victim escaped death. The offence committed  by
      the appellants is proved to be one under Section 307 of IPC punishable
      with imprisonment for life. 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 justice……..”



13.   This Court in State of M.P. v. Sangram and Others  (AIR  2006  SC  48)
took strong  exception  in  the  manner  in  which  the  High  Court,  while
disposing of the criminal appeal, reduced the sentence  without  application
of mind.  That was also a case where  the  accused  was  charge-sheeted  for
offence punishable under Section 307  IPC.   The  trial  Court  imposed  the
sentence of seven years rigorous imprisonment,  which  was  reduced  by  the
High Court to  one  year,  without  stating  any  satisfactory  reasons  for
reduction of sentence.  This Court held as follows:
            “5.   The High Court has not assigned any  satisfactory  reasons
      for reducing the sentence to less than one year.


            6.    That apart, the High Court has written a  very  short  and
      cryptic judgment.  To say the least, the appeal has been  disposed  of
      in a most unsatisfactory manner exhibiting complete non-application of
      mind.  There is absolutely no consideration of the evidence adduced by
      the parties.”


14.   We are of the view that in spite of  various  judicial  pronouncements
of this Court, we have come across several cases where the High  Courts  are
committing the same mistake and reducing the  sentence  without  application
of mind and stating no reasons.  In a case where the  accused  persons  have
already been found guilty under Section 307 IPC, we  fail  to  see  how  the
sentence of about 20 to 50 days or 211 days in the  case  of  accused  Ummed
Singh, would be an adequate sentence.  Sentence already  undergone,  in  our
view, is not commensurate with the guilt established.   If  the  High  Court
considers it fit to reduce the sentence, it  must  state  reasons,  for  the
reduction

15.   High Court,  in  our  view,  while  reducing  the  sentence,  has  not
properly  appreciated  the  scope  of  Section  307,  IPC  under  which  the
respondents were found guilty.
      The relevant portion of Section 307 reads as follows:
      “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  hereinbefore
      mentioned……..”


16.   High Court was of opinion that 
injuries has not been caused  on  vital parts of the body.  
In order to attract Section 307, the injury need not  be
on the vital parts of the body.  In order to attract  Section  307,  causing of hurt is sufficient. If anybody does any act with intention  or  knowledge that by his act he might cause death and hurt is caused, that is  sufficient to attract life imprisonment.   Section 307 uses the word ‘hurt’  which  has been explained in Section 319,  IPC  and  not  “grievous  hurt”  within  the meaning of Section 320, IPC.  Therefore, in order to  attract  Section  307,
the injury need not be on the vital part of the body.  A  gun  shot,  as  in the present case, may miss the vital part of  the  body,  may  result  in  a lacerated wound, that itself is sufficient to  attract  Section  307.   
High Court is, therefore, in error in reducing the  sentence,  holding  that  the injury was not on the vital part of the body.  Period undergone  by  way  of sentence also in our view is not commensurate with  the  guilt  established.


17.   We also have to remind ourselves the object and  purpose  of  imposing
adequate sentence.  Reference may be made to the judgment of this  Court  in
State of Madhya Pradesh v. Saleem @ Chamaru and Anr. , AIR 2005 SC 3996.

      “8. The object should be to protect the  society  and  to  deter  the
      criminal  in  achieving  the  avowed  object  of  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.


      9. Imposition of sentence  without  considering  its  effect  on  the
      social order in many cases may be in reality a futile  exercise.  The
      social impact of the crime, e.g. where it relates to offences against
      women, dacoity, kidnapping, misappropriation of public money, treason
      and other offences involving moral turpitude  -or  moral  delinquency
      which have great impact on social order, and public interest,  cannot
      be lost sight of and per se require exemplary treatment. 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
      societal interest which needs to be cared  for  and  strengthened  by
      string of deterrence inbuilt in the sentencing system.


      10. 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  the
      criminal and victim belong. The punishment to be awarded for a  crime
      must not be irrelevant but it should conform  to  and  be  consistent
      with the atrocity  and  brutality  with  which  the  crime  has  been
      perpetrated, the enormity of the crime warranting  public  abhorrence
      and it should "respond to the society's cry for justice  against  the
      criminal".”


18.   We, therefore, find no good reason to interfere with the  judgment  of
the trial court.  Consequently, the appeal is allowed and  judgment  of  the
High Court reducing the sentence is set aside and the judgment and order  of
the trial Court are restored.


                                                             ……………………………..J.
                                              (K.S. Radhakrishnan)






                                                             ……………………………..J.
                                              (Pinaki Chandra Ghose)
New Delhi,
July 30, 2013

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