There Cannot Be Any Punishment Less Than Life Imprisonment For Murder Convict: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has held that any sentence/punishment less than imprisonment for life cannot be given to an accused who is convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.
"…the minimum sentence provided for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC would be imprisonment for life and fine. There cannot be any sentence/punishment less than imprisonment for life, if an accused is convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.", the Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice Krishna Murari observed.
The Bench noted that any punishment less than imprisonment for life for the murder offence would be contrary to Section 302 of IPC.
The Court made this observation while dealing with an appeal challenging the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court reducing a murder convict's sentence from life imprisonment to the sentence already undertone while maintaining his conviction for the offences under Sections 147, 148, 323 and 302/34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In this case, the Trial Court convicted the accused for the offence punishable under Sections 147, 148, 323 and 302/34 of the IPC and sentenced him to undergo life imprisonment.
Although the High Court maintained the conviction of the accused for the aforesaid offences, however by giving benefit of right to private defence, the High Court interfered with the sentence and reduced the same to the already undergone by him.
The period of sentence undergone by the accused was approximately seven years and ten months.
An appeal was filed by the State before the Supreme Court.
Deputy Advocate Ankita Chaudhary appearing on behalf of the respondent-state submitted that once an accused is held to be guilty for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC, the minimum sentence, which is imposable would be the imprisonment for life and, therefore, any punishment/sentence less than the imprisonment for life shall be contrary to Section 302 of the IPC.
The Supreme Court observed that High Court's Order reducing the sentence to already undergone by the accused while maintaining his murder conviction was impermissible.
"By the impugned judgment and order though the High Court has specifically maintained the conviction of the accused for the offence under Sections 147, 148, 323 and 302/34 of the IPC, but the High Court has reduced the sentence to sentence already undergone which is less than imprisonment for life, which shall be contrary to Section 302 IPC and is unsustainable.", the Court noted.
Therefore, the Court set aside the judgment of the High Court while restoring the Trial Court's Order imposing life imprisonment.
Cause Title- State of Madhya Pradesh v. Nandu @ Nandua