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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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