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Sunday, July 19, 2015

The occurrence was in the year 1993 and more than 22 years have elapsed from the date of the incident. For the conviction under Section 304 Part II IPC read with Section 149 IPC reduction of sentence from seven years to the period already undergone, though, appears to be inadequate, at this distant point of time, we are not inclined to interfere with the exercise of discretion by the High Court in reducing the sentence of imprisonment from seven years to the period already undergone by each of the accused. As far as the award of compensation is concerned, particularly in the case of homicidal death, monetary benefits cannot be equated with the life of a person and the society’s cry for justice. Object is just to mitigate hardship that is caused to the deceased.

                                                              NON-REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 931   Of 2015
               (Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No. 1839 of 2012)

RAVINDER SINGH                                    .. Appellant
                                   Versus
STATE OF HARYANA & ORS.                        ..Respondents

                                    WITH

                        CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 932/2015
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No. 7101/2012)

RAMESH @ RAVINDER PARDEEP & ORS.             ..Appellants
                                   Versus
STATE OF HARYANA                              ..Respondent


                               J U D G M E N T

R. BANUMATHI, J.

Delay condoned and leave granted in both the special leave petitions.
2.           These  appeals  arise  out  of  the  impugned  judgment   dated
16.08.2010 passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at  Chandigarh  in
Criminal Appeal No.514-SB/1998  whereby  the  High  Court  disposed  of  the
appeal filed by the respondents-accused directing the reduction of  sentence
of the accused persons under Section 304 Part II IPC read with  Section  149
IPC and Section  148  IPC  to  the  period  already  undergone  and  further
directing the accused Pyare Lal @ Hitender Pradeep and Manphool  to  deposit
Rs.1,25,000/- each and directing other accused persons to deposit an  amount
of Rs.25,000/- each with the trial court with default clause  and  directing
the trial court to disburse the said amount of  compensation  to  the  legal
heirs of the deceased-Duli Chand.
3.          Brief facts which led to the filing  of  these  appeals  are  as
under:- On 04.08.1993 complainant-Sher Singh  (PW6)  along  with  his  elder
brother Duli Chand were returning from  Bus adda of village  Devsar  towards
their house. No Sooner they reached the tyre puncture shop owned by  Rajpal,
they saw these accused persons–respondents, namely,  Pyare  Lal  @  Hitender
Pradeep (A-4) armed with lathi, Ramesh @ Ravinder Pardeep (A-1)  armed  with
a jailly and Surender (A-2), Raj Kumar (A-3) and Manphool (A-5)  also  armed
with lathi.         Fourth accused-Pyare Lal whooped (lalkar)  stating  that
‘Duli Chand should be taught a lesson for making a  complaint  against  them
before the panchayat’ and the accused       persons  assaulted  Duli  Chand.
Accused-Pyare Lal @ Hitender Pradeep (A-4) gave lathi blow on  the  head  of
Duli Chand, Ramesh inflicted a jailly blow on the right arm of  Duli  Chand,
Surender (A-2) hit Duli Chand with a lathi on the right hand.   Accused  Raj
Kumar (A-3) gave a lathi blow on the hands of Duli  Chand.   Narender  (A-6)
gave a lathi blow on the right leg of Duli Chand while Manphool  (A-5)  gave
a lathi blow on  the  head  of  Duli  Chand.  Due  to  the  attack  deceased
sustained grievous injuries and  fell  down  and  all  the  accused  persons
dragged him inside the house of Bhundu. On  hearing  the  screaming  of  the
complainant-Sher Singh for help, Jai Singh and Roshan Lal came to the  spot.
 Sher Singh (PW6) with the help of Jai Singh and Roshan Lal (PW7) had  taken
Duli Chand to General Hospital, Bhiwani. Duli Chand  remained  in  coma  and
succumbed to injuries on 09.08.1993. On the basis of  the  complaint  lodged
by complainant-Sher Singh, FIR No.277 was  registered  under  Sections  147,
148, 149, 323, 324 and 342 IPC. On the death of  Duli  Chand,  the  FIR  was
altered to  Section  304  Part  II  IPC.  On  completion  of  investigation,
chargesheet was filed against the accused persons.
4.          The charges were framed against all the  accused  persons  under
Sections 148 and 302/149 IPC and all the accused pleaded  not  guilty.  Upon
consideration of the  evidence adduced by the prosecution, the  trial  court
vide judgment dated 11.06.1998 convicted all the six accused  persons  under
Section 304 Part II IPC read with Section 149  IPC  and  sentenced  each  of
them to undergo rigorous imprisonment for  a  period  of  seven  years.  The
accused were also convicted under Section 148  IPC  and  were  sentenced  to
undergo rigorous  imprisonment  for  two  years.   Being  aggrieved  by  the
judgment passed by  the  Sessions  Court,  accused  persons  filed  Criminal
Appeal No.514-SB/1998 before  the  High  Court  of  Punjab  and  Haryana  at
Chandigarh wherein vide  impugned  judgment  dated  16.08.2010,  High  Court
reduced the sentence of imprisonment imposed on all the six accused  persons
under Section 304 Part II IPC read with Section 149 IPC and 148 IPC  to  the
period already undergone by each of them and also imposed fine as  indicated
in  paragraph  2.   Being  aggrieved  by  the  reduction  of  sentence,  the
appellant Ravinder Singh  son  of  the  deceased-Duli  Chand  has  preferred
criminal appeal arising out of SLP (Crl.)  No.1839  of  2012  assailing  the
correctness of the impugned judgment.
5.          Learned counsel for the appellant-Ravinder Singh contended  that
the injuries caused by the accused resulting in  the  death  of  Duli  Chand
have been well established  by  the  prosecution  and  the  penal  liability
cannot be substituted by payment of  compensation.  It  was  submitted  that
having regard to the manner of attack and  the  injuries,  the  respondents-
accused do not deserve any mercy and the High Court  has  erred  in  showing
undue sympathy in reducing sentence to the period already undergone.
6.          Learned  counsel  for  the  respondents-accused  submitted  that
accused Narender (A-6),  Raj Kumar (A-3) were the students and Pyare Lal (A-
4) was a police personnel and Manphool (A-5-since dead) was  aged  about  72
years and having regard to the facts and circumstances  of  the  case,  High
Court reduced the sentence to the period already undergone and it cannot  be
said to be an erroneous exercise of discretion  warranting  interference  in
exercising jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution of  India.
7.          We have heard the rival contentions advanced by the parties  and
gave our thoughtful consideration to the evidence and material on record.
8.          The evidence adduced by the prosecution  that  the  respondents-
accused inflicted injuries on  the  deceased-Duli  Chand  which  caused  his
death and conviction of the respondents-accused is  unassailable.  The  only
point to be considered is whether there was improper exercise of  discretion
by the High Court  in  reducing  the  substantive  sentence  to  the  period
already  undergone  and  directing  the  accused  to  pay  the   amount   of
compensation is correct.
9.          Question of  sentence  is  always  a  difficult  task  requiring
balancing of various considerations.  The question of awarding  sentence  is
a matter of discretion to be exercised  on  consideration  of  circumstances
aggravating and mitigating in   the individual cases.  Law courts have  been
consistent  in  the  approach  that  a  reasonable  proportion  has  to   be
maintained between the seriousness of the crime and the  punishment.   While
it is true that sentence disproportionately  severe  should  not  be  passed
that does not clothe  the  court  with  an  option  to  award  the  sentence
manifestly inadequate. Justice demands that courts should impose  punishment
befitting the crime so that the courts  reflect  public  abhorrence  of  the
crime.  In State of Karnataka vs. Krishnappa, (2000) 4 SCC  75,  this  Court
held thus:
“…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. Courts must hear  the
loud cry for justice by the society in cases of the heinous  crime  of  rape
on [pic]innocent helpless girls of  tender  years,  as  in  this  case,  and
respond by imposition of proper sentence. Public  abhorrence  of  the  crime
needs reflection through imposition of appropriate sentence  by  the  court.
There are no  extenuating  or  mitigating  circumstances  available  on  the
record  which  may  justify  imposition  of  any  sentence  less  than   the
prescribed minimum on the respondent. To show mercy in the case  of  such  a
heinous crime would be a travesty of justice and the plea  for  leniency  is
wholly misplaced. The High Court, in the  facts  and  circumstances  of  the
case, was not justified in interfering with the discretion exercised by  the
trial court and our answer to the question posed in the earlier part of  the
judgment is an emphatic — No…”

10.         Considering the facts of the present case as  submitted  by  the
learned counsel for the respondents two accused namely Raj Kumar  (A-3)  and
Narender (A-6) were the students at the time of the incident while  Manphool
(A-5) has crossed the age of 72 years.  The occurrence was in the year  1993
and more than 22 years have elapsed from the date of the incident.  For  the
conviction under  Section  304  Part  II  IPC  read  with  Section  149  IPC
reduction of sentence from seven years  to  the  period  already  undergone,
though, appears to be inadequate, at this distant point of time, we are  not
inclined to interfere with the exercise of discretion by the High  Court  in
reducing the sentence  of  imprisonment  from  seven  years  to  the  period
already undergone  by  each  of  the  accused.   As  far  as  the  award  of
compensation is concerned, particularly in  the  case  of  homicidal  death,
monetary benefits cannot be equated with  the  life  of  a  person  and  the
society’s cry for justice.  Object is just  to  mitigate  hardship  that  is
caused to the deceased.
11.         In the facts and  circumstances  of  the  case  considering  the
plight of deceased family, the fine amount of Rs.25,000/-  imposed  on  each
of the accused Ramesh @ Ravinder Pardeep (A-1), Surender  (A-2),  Raj  Kumar
(A-3), Narender (A-6) is increased to Rs.1,25,000/- each.   Apart  from  the
fine amount of Rs.25,000/- said to  have  been  deposited  by  each  of  the
accused 1, 2, 3 and 6, they shall pay an additional fine  of   Rs.1,00,000/-
each within eight weeks.  Accused No.4-Pyare Lal @  Hitender  Pradeep  shall
pay fine amount of Rs.1,25,000/- if he  has  not  so  far  deposited  within
eight  weeks.   In  case,  the  fine  amount/enhanced  fine  amount  is  not
deposited by the respondents-accused before the trial court within the  time
stipulated,  then  they  shall   undergo   the   substantive   sentence   of
imprisonment as imposed by the trial court. Once  the  aforesaid  amount  is
deposited by the respondents accused, the trial  court  shall  disburse  the
same to the legal representatives of  Duli  Chand.  Accused  Manphool  (A-5)
died during the proceedings. If he had already paid  the  fine  amount,  the
same shall also be disbursed to the legal heirs of Duli Chand.   Since  this
order is passed in the peculiar facts and circumstances of  the  case,  this
may not be treated as a precedent.  The appeal is disposed of in  the  above
terms. Criminal Appeal  arising  out  of  SLP  (Crl.)  No.7101  of  2012  is
disposed of in the same terms.
                                                            .…………....……………J.
                                (T.S. THAKUR)


                                                              ………….……………….J.
                                 (R. BANUMATHI)
New Delhi;
July 15, 2015

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