Murder Case| Principle Of Proportionality Should Guide The Sentencing Process: Supreme Court Reiterates
The Supreme Court has in a murder case reiterated that the principle of proportionality should guide the sentencing process.
The two-judge Bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Dipankar Dutta held that “This court has, time and again, stated that the principle of proportionality should guide the sentencing process.”
Adding on to that, the Court said “The impugned judgment, in this court’s opinion, fell into error in not considering the gravity of the offence. Having held all the accused criminally liable, under Section 304 Part II read with Section 149 IPC and also not having found any distinguishing feature in the form of separate roles played by each of them, the imposition of the sentence undergone criteria, amounted to an aberration, and the sentencing is for that reason, flawed”.
AOR Varinder Kumar Sharma appeared for the Appellant while AAG Rakesh Mudgal appeared for the State.
The appeal arose out of the judgment of the Punjab & Haryana High Court that converted their convictions under Section 302 read with 149 IPC to Section 304 Part II read with Section 149 IPC. It, however, affirmed the convictions under Section 148 and Section 323 read with Section 149 IPC.
In this case, the main accused Krishan (A-1) had an altercation with Subhash (Deceased). This led to Krishan calling along his sons and friends who hit the deceased and his friends and inflicted severe blows to the head.
On March 9, 2012, the police registered the case under Sections 147, 148, 149 and 323 IPC. Subash, having received multiple injuries, was taken to the hospital. However, he passed away on March 12, 2012. Thereupon, Section 302 IPC was added in the FIR, on March 13, 2012.
The trial court convicted and sentenced all accused to rigorous imprisonment for life under Section 302 read with Section 149 IPC and one year’s rigorous imprisonment under Section 148 IPC; six months rigorous imprisonment for the offence under Section 323 read with Section 149 IPC.
Aggrieved with the High Court's order, the Appellant approached the Supreme Court.
The Court while looking at the facts and circumstances of the case placed reliance on previous judgments of this Court in Jameel v. State of U.P (2009  SCR 712) wherein the Court held that “the law should adopt the corrective machinery or deterrence based on factual matrix. The facts and given circumstances in each case, the nature of the crime, the manner in which it was planned and committed, the motive for commission of the crime, the conduct of the accused, the nature of weapons used and all other attending circumstances are relevant facts which would enter into the area of consideration”.
Further, the Court held that “At any rate, the court did not find that sufficient reason to upset the sentence under Section 149 read with Section 304 II IPC. The sentencing in this case, to put it mildly, is inexplicable. On the one hand, Krishan underwent sentence for 9 years 4 months- at the other end of the spectrum, Sunder s/o Rajpal underwent only 11 months. No rationale appears from the reasoning of the High Court for this wide disparity.”
Additionally, the Court observed that “The impugned judgment, in this court’s opinion, fell into error in not considering the gravity of the offence. This court is, therefore, of the view that given the totality of circumstances, the appropriate sentence would be five years rigorous imprisonment. However, at the same time, the court is cognizant of the fact Krishan and Bramhajit served more than that period. Therefore, the impugned judgment, as far as they are concerned, is left undisturbed.”
Accordingly, the appeals were partly allowed by the Court.
Cause Title: Uggarsain v. The State of Haryana & Ors.