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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Section 357A Cr.P.C.= Section 304A and 337 IPC - The respondent accused had drawn electricity wire from the pole upto his field which was not visible in the darkness. Ram Charan got trapped in the wire and became unconscious. The deceased Sushila Bai received electric shock in the process of removing the wire. = This Court held : "14. We are of the view that it is the duty of the Courts, on taking cognizance of a criminal offence, to ascertain whether there is tangible material to show commission of crime, whether the victim is identifiable and whether the victim of crime needs immediate financial relief. On being satisfied on an application or on its own motion, the Court ought to direct grant of interim compensation, subject to final compensation being determined later. Such duty continues at every stage of a criminal case where compensation ought to be given and has not been given, irrespective of the application by the victim. At the stage of final hearing it is obligatory on the part of the Court to advert to the provision and record a finding whether a case for grant of compensation has been made out and, if so, who is entitled to compensation and how much. Award of such compensation can be interim. Gravity of offence and need of victim are some of the guiding factors to be kept in mind, apart from such other factors as may be found relevant in the facts and circumstances of an individual case. We are also of the view that there is need to consider upward revision in the scale for compensation and pending such consideration to adopt the scale notified by the State of Kerala in its scheme, unless the scale awarded by any other State or Union Territory is higher. The States of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya and Telangana are directed to notify their schemes within one month from receipt of a copy of this order. We also direct that a copy of this judgment be forwarded to National Judicial Academy so that all judicial officers in the country can be imparted requisite training to make the provision operative and meaningful." 9. As per information furnished by learned counsel for the State, the accused Mehtaab has three sons and he owns 10-12 bighas of land and his annual income was Rs.35-40,000/-. Similarly his sons were earning Rs.25- 30,000/- per annum. The Court of Session has mentioned the age of the deceased to be thirty years at the time of her death in the year 1997. As per instructions of learned counsel for the State, deceased is survived by her husband Ram Charan, two sons Bundel Singh and Suraj Lal and two daughters Durgesh Bai and Babita Bai. 10. As already observed, the respondent having been found guilty of causing death by his negligence, the High Court was not justified in reducing the sentence of imprisonment to 10 days without awarding any compensation to the heirs of the deceased. We are of the view that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the order of the High Court can be upheld only with the modification that the accused will pay compensation of Rs.2 lakhs to the heirs of the deceased within six months. In default, he will undergo RI for six months. The compensation of Rs.2 lakhs is being fixed having regard to the limited financial resources of the accused but the said compensation may not be adequate for the heirs of the deceased. In such situation, in addition to the compensation to be paid by the accused, the State can be required to pay compensation under Section 357-A. As per judgment of this Court in Suresh (supra), the scheme adopted by the State of Kerala is applicable to all the States and the said scheme provides for compensation upto Rs.5 lakhs in the case of death. In the present case, it will be appropriate, in the interests of justice, to award interim compensation of Rs.3 lakhs under Section 357-A payable out of the funds available/to be made available by the State of Madhya Pradesh with the District Legal Services, Authority, Guna. In case, the accused does not pay the compensation awarded as above, the State of Madhya Pradesh will pay the entire amount of compensation of Rs.5 lakhs within three months after expiry of the time granted to the accused.

                                 REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.290 OF 2015
                 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (CRL.) NO.5609 OF 2013)


STATE OF M.P.                               ...APPELLANT

VERSUS

MEHTAAB                                     ...RESPONDENT


                               J U D G M E N T

ADARSH KUMAR GOEL J.


1.    Leave granted.
2.    This appeal has been preferred by the State of Madhya Pradesh  against
judgment and order dated 6th November, 2012 passed  by  the  High  Court  of
Madhya Pradesh at Gwalior in Criminal Revision No.72 of  2007  reducing  the
sentence awarded to the respondent under Section 304A of  the  Indian  Penal
Code ("IPC") from RI for one year and under Section  337  IPC  from  RI  for
three months to RI for 10 days which was the  period  already  undergone  by
him.
3.    On 22nd November, 1997, the deceased Sushila Bai  wife  of  PW  4  Ram
Charan along with her husband was  returning  from  Village  Ragho  Garh  to
their  home  in  village  Kudhaidher.  The  respondent  accused  had   drawn
electricity wire from the pole upto his field which was not visible  in  the
darkness.  Ram Charan got trapped in the wire and became  unconscious.   The
deceased Sushila Bai received electric shock in the process of removing  the
wire.  On receiving the information PW 5 Mishrilal, brother of  Sushila  Bai
and PW 1 Kallu reached the site of the incident along with  PW  3  Goverdhan
and PW 2 Somlal.  It was found that Sushila Bai had died  while  Ram  Charan
was injured but alive.  He was taken  to  the  hospital.   FIR  was  lodged.
Post mortem
was conducted on the dead  body  and  after  investigation,  the  respondent
accused was sent up for trial under  Section  304-A/337  IPC.   The  accused
denied the allegations and alleged that he was falsely implicated.
4.    The prosecution examined PW 6 Dr. N.K. Sharma to the effect  that  the
deceased and Ram Charan received  injuries  by  electric  current  and  that
Sushila Bai had died due to shock of the current.  PW 1 Kallu as well as  PW
4 Ram Charan clearly deposed that the wire was  laid  by  Mehtaab  from  the
pole to the field which was  lying  naked  and  resulted  in  the  death  of
Sushila Bai.  This action clearly amounted  to  the  offence  alleged.   The
said evidence was corroborated by  the  other  witnesses.  Accordingly,  the
trial Court convicted the respondent-accused under Section 304A and 337  IPC
and sentenced him to undergo RI for one year and pay fine  of  Rs.500/-   in
default to undergo further RI for one  month  under  Section  304-A  and  to
undergo RI for three months under  Section  337  IPC.   The  conviction  and
sentence having  been  upheld  by  the  Court  of  Session,  the  respondent
preferred a revision petition before the High  Court.   The  respondent  did
not challenge his conviction  but  only  sought  reduction  in  sentence  of
imprisonment.  The said prayer was accepted and the sentence was reduced  to
the period already undergone.
5.    Aggrieved by the order of the High Court, the State of Madhya  Pradesh
has preferred this appeal.
6.    We have heard learned counsel for the parties.
7.    Learned counsel for the State submitted that  the  accused  respondent
had installed a transformer in his field and left the electric  wires  naked
which was a negligent act.  The deceased Sushila Bai died on account of  the
said naked wire which had high voltage and was  not  visible  in  the  dark.
The offence having been fully proved by the evidence  on  record,  the  High
Court was not justified in reducing the sentence to 10 days  which  was  not
just and fair.  Even if  liberal view on sentence of imprisonment was to  be
taken,  the High Court ought to have  enhanced  the  sentence  of  fine  and
awarded a reasonable compensation as a condition for reduction of sentence.
8.    We find force in the submission.  It is  the  duty  of  the  Court  to
award just sentence to a convict  against  whom  charge  is  proved.   While
every mitigating or  aggravating  circumstance  may  be  given  due  weight,
mechanical reduction of sentence to the period already undergone  cannot  be
appreciated.  Sentence has to be fair not only to the accused  but  also  to
the victim and the society.  It is also  the  duty  of  the  court  to  duly
consider the aspect  of  rehabilitating  the  victim.  Unfortunately,  these
factors are missing in  the  impugned  order.  No  cogent  reason  has  been
assigned for imposing only 10 days sentence when an innocent life  has  been
lost.  Award of unreasonable compensation  has  also  not  been  considered.
Apart from the sentence and fine/compensation to be  paid  by  the  accused,
the Court has to award compensation by the State  under  Section  357A  when
the accused is not in a position to pay fair compensation as  laid  down  by
this Court in Suresh vs. State of Haryana (Criminal Appeal  No.420  of  2012
decided on 28th November, 2014).  This Court held :
"14.    We are of the view that it is the duty  of  the  Courts,  on  taking
cognizance of a criminal offence, to ascertain  whether  there  is  tangible
material to show commission of crime, whether  the  victim  is  identifiable
and whether the victim of crime needs immediate financial relief.  On  being
satisfied on an application or on its own motion, the Court ought to  direct
grant  of  interim  compensation,  subject  to  final   compensation   being
determined later.  Such duty continues at every stage  of  a  criminal  case
where compensation ought to be given and has not  been  given,  irrespective
of the application by the victim.   At the stage  of  final  hearing  it  is
obligatory on the part of the Court to advert to the provision and record  a
finding whether a case for grant of compensation has been made out  and,  if
so,  who  is  entitled  to  compensation  and  how  much.   Award  of   such
compensation can be interim.  Gravity of offence  and  need  of  victim  are
some of the guiding factors to be  kept  in  mind,  apart  from  such  other
factors as may be found relevant  in  the  facts  and  circumstances  of  an
individual case.  We are also of the view that there  is  need  to  consider
upward  revision  in  the  scale   for   compensation   and   pending   such
consideration to adopt the scale notified by the  State  of  Kerala  in  its
scheme, unless the scale awarded by any other State or  Union  Territory  is
higher.  The  States  of  Andhra  Pradesh,  Madhya  Pradesh,  Meghalaya  and
Telangana are directed  to  notify  their  schemes  within  one  month  from
receipt of a copy of this order.   We  also  direct  that  a  copy  of  this
judgment be forwarded to National Judicial  Academy  so  that  all  judicial
officers in the country can be  imparted  requisite  training  to  make  the
provision operative and meaningful."

9.    As per information furnished by learned counsel  for  the  State,  the
accused Mehtaab has three sons and he owns 10-12  bighas  of  land  and  his
annual income was Rs.35-40,000/-.  Similarly his sons  were  earning  Rs.25-
30,000/- per annum.  The Court of Session  has  mentioned  the  age  of  the
deceased to be thirty years at the time of her death in the year  1997.   As
per instructions of learned counsel for the State, deceased is  survived  by
her husband Ram Charan,  two  sons  Bundel  Singh  and  Suraj  Lal  and  two
daughters Durgesh Bai and Babita Bai.
10.   As already observed,  the  respondent  having  been  found  guilty  of
causing death by his  negligence,  the  High  Court  was  not  justified  in
reducing the sentence of  imprisonment  to  10  days  without  awarding  any
compensation to the heirs of the deceased.  We are of the view that  in  the
facts and circumstances of the case, the order of  the  High  Court  can  be
upheld only with the modification that the accused will pay compensation  of
Rs.2 lakhs to the heirs of the deceased within six months.  In  default,  he
will undergo RI for six months.  The compensation of  Rs.2  lakhs  is  being
fixed having regard to the limited financial resources of  the  accused  but
the said compensation may not be adequate for the  heirs  of  the  deceased.
In such situation, in addition  to  the  compensation  to  be  paid  by  the
accused, the State can be required to pay compensation under Section  357-A.
 As per judgment of this Court in Suresh (supra), the scheme adopted by  the
State of Kerala is  applicable  to  all  the  States  and  the  said  scheme
provides for compensation upto Rs.5 lakhs in the  case  of  death.   In  the
present case, it will be appropriate, in the interests of justice, to  award
interim compensation of Rs.3 lakhs under Section 357-A payable  out  of  the
funds available/to be made available by the State  of  Madhya  Pradesh  with
the District Legal Services, Authority, Guna.  In  case,  the  accused  does
not pay the compensation awarded as above, the State of Madhya Pradesh  will
pay the entire amount of compensation of  Rs.5  lakhs  within  three  months
after expiry of the time granted to the accused.
11.   The appeal is accordingly allowed to the above extent.



                                ..........................................J.
                                 [T.S. THAKUR]


                               ...........................................J.
                                                       [ ADARSH KUMAR GOEL ]
NEW DELHI
FEBRUARY 13, 2015


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