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Section 31 of Cr.P.C. – the sentences imposed were ordered to run consecutively – not run concurrently on ground of previous criminal history – offences done in single transaction – Confirmed by High court – Apex court held No = Manoj @ Panu … Appellant vs. State of Haryana … Respondent = published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=41057

Section 31 of Cr.P.C. – the sentences imposed were ordered to  run consecutively – not run  concurrently on ground of previous criminal history – offences done in single transaction – Confirmed by High court – Apex court held No =

 

Whether the sentences imposed were ordered to  run

consecutively on the ground that the accused Manoj was  a  previous  convict

for committing an  identical  offence  and  in  the  present  case,  he  has

committed a very heinous crime of shooting in the court premises  and  thus,

it was ordered that the sentences imposed on him shall not run  concurrently

and the substantive sentences imposed on him shall run consecutively, is maintainable ?   =    

 

The courts below failed to consider the settled legal position and also  the

provisions of Section 31 of Cr.P.C. and the  decision  in  Chatar  Singh  v.

State of M.P.[1] wherein it was observed that in a sentence  for  conviction

for several offences, accused cannot be  sentenced  to  imprisonment  for  a

period longer than 14 years.  Therefore,  the  order  passed  by  the  lower

courts in sentencing the appellant for  more  than  14  years  is  not  only

perverse but also illegal and is liable to be set aside.

 

      Reliance was also placed upon the judgment  in  Mohd.  Akhtar  Hussain

alias Ibrahim Ahmed Bhatti v.   Asst.  Collector  of  Customs  (Prevention),

Ahmedabad & Anr.[2] in support of the proposition of law laid down  by  this

Court on the issue of concurrent  or  consecutive  sentences,  the  relevant

portion of which is extracted hereunder :

 

      “10. The basic rule of thumb over the years has  been  the  so  called

      single  transaction  rule  for  concurrent  sentences.  If   a   given

      transaction constitutes two offences under two  enactments  generally,

      it is wrong to have consecutive sentences…”

 

 

 

 

The same position of law was adopted by this Court in the case of  State  of

Punjab v. Madan Lal[3] by observing in para 5 that :-

   “5. The majority view in State of Maharashtra  v.  Najakat  Alia  Mubarak

   Ali[4] was to the similar effect.  It was held in para 17 as follows:

 

 

       “17. In the above context, it is apposite  to  point  out  that  very

      often it happens, when an accused  is  convicted  in  one  case  under

      different counts of offences  and  sentenced  to  different  terms  of

      imprisonment under each such count, all such sentences are directed to

      run concurrently. The idea behind it is that the  imprisonment  to  be

      suffered by him for one count of offence will, in fact and  in  effect

      be imprisonment for other counts as well.”

 

       

 

    The ground  on

which the appellant was awarded the sentence which was to run  consecutively

was due to the previous criminal record of the appellant for a similar  type

of offence of shooting in the court premises, which  charge  was  proved  as

per Ex. P-1. 

This is the basis on  which  the  trial  court  considered  the

extenuating  circumstances  into  consideration  to  impose  punishment  for

offences committed by the appellant, sentencing  him  to  different  periods

for each one of the offences committed by him. 

The  sentences  were  ordered

to run consecutively, and the same was upheld by the High Court in  exercise

of its appellate jurisdiction. 

In view of the aforesaid legal position  laid

down by this Court  regarding  concurrent  and  consecutive  sentences,  the

sentences  imposed  upon  the  appellant  for  different  offences  to   run

consecutively under the IPC and the Arms Act, are erroneous in law,  as  the

same are contrary to law laid down by this Court as per the  cases  referred

to supra upon which reliance has been rightly placed by the  learned  senior

counsel on behalf of the appellant.

 

12.   Further, having regard to the age of the  appellant  at  the  time  of

committing the offences, we feel it would not be just and  proper  to  allow

the sentences to  run  consecutively.  

As  the  offences  committed  by  the

appellant have been  committed  under  a  single  transaction,  it  is  well

settled position of law that the sentences must  run  concurrently  and  not

consecutively.

 

NON – REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE
JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2063 of 2013
(Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No. 7707 OF 2013)
Manoj @ Panu … Appellant

vs.

State of Haryana … Respondent

 

 

J U D G M E N T

 

V. Gopala Gowda, J.

Leave granted. The application for bail is rejected.

2. This appeal is filed by the appellant–Manoj against the final
judgment and order dated 13.05.2013 passed by the High Court of Punjab &
Haryana at Chandigarh in Criminal Appeal No. 1357-SB of 2007 whereby the
High Court has confirmed the conviction and sentence passed by the learned
Additional Sessions Judge (Fast Track Court), Bhiwani in Sessions Case No.
21-RBT of 2006 dated 23.04.2007 for the offences punishable under Section
307 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (I.P.C. in short) and Sections 25 and 27 of
the Arms Act and sentenced the appellant-Manoj as under:-

|Under Section 307, IPC |Rigorous imprisonment for a period|
| |of ten years and to pay fine of |
| |Rs.5000/-. In default of payment |
| |of fine to further undergo |
| |rigorous imprisonment for a period|
| |of six months. |
|Under Section 25 of Arms Act |Rigorous imprisonment for a period|
| |of three years and to pay fine of |
| |Rs.2000/-. In default of payment |
| |of fine to further undergo |
| |rigorous imprisonment for a period|
| |of two months. |
|Under Section 27 of Arms Act |Rigorous imprisonment for a period|
| |of three years and to pay fine of |
| |Rs.2000/-. In default of payment |
| |of fine to further undergo |
| |rigorous imprisonment for a period|
| |of two months. |
The sentences were ordered to run consecutively in terms of Section 31 of
Cr.P.C.

3. The case of the prosecution is that on 10.08.2005, when Satender (PW-
7), with other accused persons in some other case, was being taken to
judicial lock-up by the complainant-Head Constable Ram Kishan (PW-11) after
producing him in the court of Additional Sessions Judge, Bhiwani, a voice
was heard saying “Manoj, Anil is going, shoot him”. Thereafter, a boy shot
Satender from the back side and the shot hit Satender on his right thigh.
The assailants were chased and the person who had fired the shot was
allegedly apprehended at the spot with a pistol. On inquiry, his name was
disclosed as Manoj @ Panu. On the basis of the statement of Head Constable
Ram Kishan the PW-11, FIR No. 136 of 2005 for offences under Section 307
IPC and under Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act was registered. During
investigation, it was found that it was a case of mistaken identity as
Satender (PW-7) was shot in place of one Anil. The injured Satender was
sent for treatment at Government Hospital, Bhiwani. After preliminary
treatment, he was referred to PGIMS, Rohtak.

4. On 23.08.2005 the injured Satender gave his statement (Exh. DA)
stating that on 10.08.2005 he was brought to the District Court, Bhiwani as
under trial in the murder case of one Ramesh Masta. After his attendance in
the court he was heading towards judicial lock-up with PW-11. On reaching
the gate of the court PW-11 saw Pawan Masta alias Munna S/o Ramesh Masta
and Rohtash Sharma (father-in-law of Ramesh Masta) and a boy who was
standing in front of them. All the above three pointed towards Satender
saying he is the same boy. On this, the fourth boy present with them fired
three shots at Satender (PW-7). Thereafter, all the three raised fingers
and asked if result is seen, “Anjam dekh lia?”

5. The co-accused Sudhir was arrested by the police on 31.8.2005. On
30.10.2005 the charge-sheet under Section 173 Cr.P.C. was prepared and
submitted in the court of Illaqa Magistrate. The District Magistrate,
Bhiwani issued sanction order on 31.10.2005 under Section 39 of the Arms
Act pertaining to a pistol of .315 bore. It was also noted in the sanction
order that the said pistol was recovered from the appellant. On 14.12.2005,
the matter was committed for trial to the court of the Sessions Judge. The
prosecution listed 28 witnesses to be examined against the appellant.
However, the prosecution examined only 13 witnesses dropping 15 witnesses.

6. The learned Sessions Judge vide his judgment and order dated
23.04.2007 convicted the appellant under Section 307 IPC and Sections 25
and 27 of the Arms Act and acquitted all the other accused persons. The
Sessions Judge held that from every angle, the prosecution has successfully
proved the guilt of the accused for the offence under Section 307 of the
IPC, and that he has fired two shots at Satender with the intent of
committing murder and as for offences under Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms
Act, it was observed that it has been sufficiently proved on record that
the accused Manoj was apprehended on the spot with a pistol along with 4
live cartridges. The learned Sessions Judge vide order dated 23.4.2007
passed the order of sentence and the appellant was ordered to undergo
rigorous imprisonment for 10 years under Section 307, IPC and to pay a
fine of Rs.5000/- and in default of payment of fine, to undergo further
rigorous imprisonment for six months, and 3 years rigorous imprisonment
each under Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act and to pay a fine of Rs.2000/-
each and in default of payment of fine to undergo further rigorous
imprisonment for two months each. The sentences imposed were ordered to run
consecutively on the ground that the accused Manoj was a previous convict
for committing an identical offence and in the present case, he has
committed a very heinous crime of shooting in the court premises and thus,
it was ordered that the sentences imposed on him shall not run concurrently
and the substantive sentences imposed on him shall run consecutively.

7. Being aggrieved by the same, the appellant filed Criminal Appeal No.
1357-SB of 2007 before the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh.

8. The High Court vide judgment and order dated 13.5.2013 dismissed his
appeal and confirmed the conviction and sentence passed by the trial court
observing that the facts and circumstances of the case do not persuade the
court to show any mercy in the matter of sentence on the accused as he has
a tendency of repeating commission of similar offences in the court
premises. It was further stated that the accused cannot be permitted to use
the court premises as a battle ground, and the trial court having given
cogent reasons for the sentences to run consecutively in terms of Section
31 of the CrPC, the High Court was totally disinclined to reduce the
sentence or to lift the consecutive sentences passed by the trial court.
Hence, the accused filed this appeal urging various grounds in support of
the questions of law raised by him.

9. The grounds urged by the learned senior counsel for the appellant Mr.
U.U. Lalit are stated hereunder :-

It was submitted that the courts below have committed a grave error of
law by convicting the appellant despite the prosecution having failed to
prove the case against the appellant and having not considered the tender
age of 18 years of the appellant as also that the appellant has already
undergone almost six years of imprisonment. He also contended that as per
the law laid down by this Court the punishment and sentence for offences
under a single transaction should have run concurrently and that in the
present case, the firing incident pertains to a single FIR, and that the
courts below failed to understand that the consecutive sentences awarded in
the present case are disproportionate to the facts.

The learned senior counsel for the appellant further contended that
the courts below failed to consider the settled legal position and also the
provisions of Section 31 of Cr.P.C. and the decision in Chatar Singh v.
State of M.P.[1] wherein it was observed that in a sentence for conviction
for several offences, accused cannot be sentenced to imprisonment for a
period longer than 14 years. Therefore, the order passed by the lower
courts in sentencing the appellant for more than 14 years is not only
perverse but also illegal and is liable to be set aside.

Reliance was also placed upon the judgment in Mohd. Akhtar Hussain
alias Ibrahim Ahmed Bhatti v. Asst. Collector of Customs (Prevention),
Ahmedabad & Anr.[2] in support of the proposition of law laid down by this
Court on the issue of concurrent or consecutive sentences, the relevant
portion of which is extracted hereunder :

“10. The basic rule of thumb over the years has been the so called
single transaction rule for concurrent sentences. If a given
transaction constitutes two offences under two enactments generally,
it is wrong to have consecutive sentences…”

 
The same position of law was adopted by this Court in the case of State of
Punjab v. Madan Lal[3] by observing in para 5 that :-
“5. The majority view in State of Maharashtra v. Najakat Alia Mubarak
Ali[4] was to the similar effect. It was held in para 17 as follows:
“17. In the above context, it is apposite to point out that very
often it happens, when an accused is convicted in one case under
different counts of offences and sentenced to different terms of
imprisonment under each such count, all such sentences are directed to
run concurrently. The idea behind it is that the imprisonment to be
suffered by him for one count of offence will, in fact and in effect
be imprisonment for other counts as well.”

 

10. On the other hand, Mr. Manjit Singh, Additional Advocate General
appearing for the respondent-State has sought to justify the impugned
judgment contending that the High Court on re-appreciation of evidence on
record has rightly concurred with the findings of fact recorded on the
points raised and not interfered with the sentence imposed by the learned
Sessions Judge and, therefore, the same does not call for interference by
this Court.

11. We have heard the learned counsel for both the parties. The ground on
which the appellant was awarded the sentence which was to run consecutively
was due to the previous criminal record of the appellant for a similar type
of offence of shooting in the court premises, which charge was proved as
per Ex. P-1. This is the basis on which the trial court considered the
extenuating circumstances into consideration to impose punishment for
offences committed by the appellant, sentencing him to different periods
for each one of the offences committed by him. The sentences were ordered
to run consecutively, and the same was upheld by the High Court in exercise
of its appellate jurisdiction. In view of the aforesaid legal position laid
down by this Court regarding concurrent and consecutive sentences, the
sentences imposed upon the appellant for different offences to run
consecutively under the IPC and the Arms Act, are erroneous in law, as the
same are contrary to law laid down by this Court as per the cases referred
to supra upon which reliance has been rightly placed by the learned senior
counsel on behalf of the appellant.

12. Further, having regard to the age of the appellant at the time of
committing the offences, we feel it would not be just and proper to allow
the sentences to run consecutively. As the offences committed by the
appellant have been committed under a single transaction, it is well
settled position of law that the sentences must run concurrently and not
consecutively.

13. Hence, the appellant is entitled to the relief as prayed for in this
case and the sentences are modified to run concurrently and not
consecutively and for this reason, we hold that the sentence must be
reduced to 10 years in total with regard to the aforesaid settled position
of law, as also keeping in view the tender age of the appellant on the date
of the offence.

14. The appeal is partly allowed in the above terms by modifying the
judgment of the High Court, by reducing the sentence to 10 years in total,
the remainder of which he must serve.

 

 

…………………………………………………………………J.
[SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA]
……………………………………………………………………J.
[V. GOPALA GOWDA]

 

New Delhi,
December 9, 2013

———————–
[1] (2006) 12 SCC 37
[2] (1988) 4 SCC 183
[3] (2009) 5 SCC 238
[4] (2001) 6 SCC 311

 

 

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