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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sections 465, 468, 471 read with Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, =manipulation done by these persons in revenue records and using the manipulated documents in the civil proceedings in a suit filed by them in relation to the land for their personal benefits to obtain the decree, the State Authorities (Revenue Department) made inquiries and filed FIR against the appellant and his brother which gave rise to the filing of charge sheet in the Court of Judicial Magistrate against them for commission of the offences as mentioned above.

                             CORRECTED

                                                              Non-Reportable
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.531 OF 2016
                  (ARISING OUT OF SLP(Crl.) No.4278 /2016)
                    (@ SLP(Crl.)…..Crl.M.P.No.21881/2015)


      Nirmal Dass                                  Appellant(s)


                             VERSUS


      State of Punjab                              Respondent(s)



                               J U D G M E N T

Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.
Delay condoned.  Leave granted.

2)    This appeal is filed  against  the  final  judgment  and  order  dated
06.05.2015 passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at  Chandigarh  in
C.R.R. No. 2027 of 2003  whereby  the  High  Court  dismissed  the  revision
petition filed by the appellant herein.
3)    Facts of the case  lie  in  a  narrow  compass.  They,  however,  need
mention in brief infra.
4)    The appellant and his brother Sukhdev were prosecuted  and  tried  for
commission of the offences punishable under  Sections  465,  468,  471  read
with Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter  referred  to
as “IPC”)  pursuant to FIR No. 74 dated  04.10.1994 filed at Police  Station
Banga, District Nawanshahr, Punjab in Criminal  Case  no.  166/2002  in  the
Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class Nawanshahr.
5)    In short,  the case of the prosecution was that  the  appellant  along
with his brother Sukhdev and  father-  Saran  Das  manipulated  the  revenue
records of a land measuring 49 Kanals 9 Marlas comprised in Khewat  No.  434
Khatuni No. 653 and 28 Kanals and 14 Marlas in Khewat No.  131/176  situated
in the revenue estate of Jagatpur owned by the Gram Panchayat of  the  area.
It was the case of prosecution  that  father  and  his  two  sons  did  this
manipulation only with a view to grab the land for their personal  benefits.

6)    On coming to know  of  the  manipulation  done  by  these  persons  in
revenue  records  and  using  the  manipulated  documents   in   the   civil
proceedings in a suit filed by them  in  relation  to  the  land  for  their
personal benefits to obtain  the  decree,  the  State  Authorities  (Revenue
Department) made inquiries and filed  FIR  against  the  appellant  and  his
brother which gave rise to the filing  of  charge  sheet  in  the  Court  of
Judicial  Magistrate  against  them  for  commission  of  the  offences   as
mentioned above. So far as father-Saran Das was concerned, he died prior  to
filing of the case.
7)    By judgment dated 05.12.2002, the  Magistrate,  Nawanshahar  convicted
the appellant and his  brother  under  Sections  465,  468,  471  read  with
Section  120-B  of  the  IPC  and  sentenced  them  to   undergo    rigorous
imprisonment for 2 (two) years with a fine of Rs.1000/- each under  Sections
465 and 471 and rigorous  imprisonment  for  three  years  with  a  fine  of
Rs.2000/- each under Section 468 and rigorous imprisonment  for  six  months
under Section 120-B  and in default of payment of fine  to  further  undergo
rigorous imprisonment for  six  months.   All  the  sentences  were  to  run
concurrently.   It was held that the prosecution was able to prove the  case
against the appellant under all the sections under which they were tried.
8)    The appellant and his brother, felt aggrieved, filed appeal being  RBT
No. 23 of 2003 before the  Additional  Sessions  Judge,   Nawanshahar.  Vide
order dated  26.09.2003  the appellate Court partly allowed the  appeal  but
maintained the conviction by holding them guilty under  Section  120-B  read
with Sections 465 and 468 IPC and altered their sentence  from  three  years
to two years with a fine of Rs.4000/-.
9)    The appellant and his brother pursued the matter further  in  revision
bearing CRR No. 2027 of 2003 before  the  High  Court.   By  impugned  order
dated 06.05.2015, the High Court  dismissed  the  revision  and  upheld  the
order of the appellate Court.
10)   Felt aggrieved, the appellant filed this  appeal  by  way  of  special
leave petition before this Court. On 22.01.2016,  when the SLP came  up  for
hearing on the question of admission,  learned  counsel  for  the  appellant
submitted that he confines his submissions to challenge only the quantum  of
sentence awarded to the appellant.  On  such  submission  being  made,  this
Court issued notice to the respondent to examine the  issue  of  quantum  of
sentence and, if so, whether any case is made out to reduce the  quantum  of
sentence awarded by the Courts below and, if so,  to what extent.
11)    Heard learned counsel for the parties.
12)   Learned counsel for the  appellant  has  urged  only  one  submission.
According to him, out of three accused, two have died,  namely,  father  and
the brother of the appellant during the pendency of  this  litigation.  That
apart, the appellant is now aged around 75 years and lastly, the  fact  that
the appellant has already undergone a period of five months  in  jail,  this
Court should take a lenient view in the case and reduce the sentence of  the
appellant from 2 years to that of what he has  already  undergone.   Learned
counsel also urged  that  the  appellant   has  not  retained  any  benefits
arising out of the land in dispute  to  him  and  it  was  restored  to  its
original owner (Gram Panchayat). It  was,  therefore,  his  submission  that
this is one of the mitigating factors, which this  Court  should  take  into
consideration while deciding the issue relating to quantum of punishment
13)   In reply,  learned counsel for the  respondent-  State  supported  the
impugned order and contended that no case is made out to  interfere  in  the
impugned order and, therefore, it should be upheld.
14)   Having heard the learned counsel for the parties  and  on  perusal  of
the record of the case, we are inclined to  accept  the  submission  of  the
learned counsel for the appellant in part as, in our opinion,  it  has  some
force.
15)   First, it is not in dispute that the  appellant   is  aged  around  75
years; Second, out of three accused two have expired; Third,  litigation  is
pending for quite some  time;  Fourth,  the  appellant  has  undergone  five
months in jail.
16)   We, however, cannot accept the submission of learned counsel that  the
sentence of the appellant  should be reduced to that of "already  undergone"
as against his total sentence of 2 years.  In our  view,  it  would  be  too
lenient in the facts of the case.
17)   We have perused the evidence and the findings of the  appellate  Court
and find that having regard to the totality of  the  circumstances  such  as
nature of offences committed and findings recorded by the  appellate  Court,
the sentence awarded to the appellant  can be reduced from  "two  years"  to
"one year". In other words, we consider  it  just  and  proper  and  in  the
interest of justice to reduce the sentence of the appellant  to  "one  year"
instead of “two years”.     18)    In  view  of  foregoing  discussion,  the
appeal succeeds and is allowed in  part.  The  impugned  order  is  modified
insofar as it relates to awarding of the sentence  to  the  appellant.   The
appellant is accordingly awarded rigorous  imprisonment  for  1  (one)  year
with a fine amount of Rs.10,000/-.  In  default  of  payment  of  fine,  the
appellant will undergo  rigorous  imprisonment  for  further  three  months.
The appellant to undergo  remaining  period  of  sentence  awarded  by  this
Court.


           .……...................................J.
                                     [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]


                     ………..................................J.
                                      [ASHOK BHUSHAN]
      New Delhi,
      May 18, 2016.

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