Period Of More Than 30 Long Years & No Allegation Of Any Objectionable Activity: SC Reduces Sentence Of 62-Year-Old Social Worker
The Supreme Court reduced the sentence of a Social Worker and Political Party member, who was charged under various sections of IPC for using offensive language towards a public servant during a meeting with the Commissioner of the Directorate (Commissioner) and for pushing a staff member.
The Court placed reliance on factors including, but not limited to, the fact that the incident was more than 30 years old and no other objectionable actions were committed by the Appellant. The Court reduced the sentence to one month of simple imprisonment under each of the three sections, with the imprisonment running concurrently.
The Bench comprising Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Sanjay Karol observed, “However, considering the circumstances set out in paragraph 5 above, we are of the view that the appellant deserves to be shown leniency when it comes to the substantive sentence. The distinct factors set out in paragraph no.5, taken individually, do not constitute a ground by itself to show leniency. For example, only because an accused is on bail for a long time, is it no ground by itself to show leniency. It is only one of the several factors to be considered. But we have considered these factors cumulatively”.
Advocate Sudarshan Rajan appeared for the Appellant and Additional Advocate General D.S. Parmar appeared for the Respondent.
The Appellant was convicted under Sections 333, 353 and 451 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) by the Sessions Court, wherein the Court sentenced rigorous imprisonment for one year each and another rigorous imprisonment for two years. The High Court upheld the conviction but reduced the substantive sentence to rigorous imprisonment for six months each for each of the three offences. The Appellant contended that She is a 62-year-old woman and should be released upon payment of a fine, even if probation cannot be granted due to the time that has passed since the offence and other factors.
The Court noted that the Appellant claimed to be a social worker and member of a political party. The Appellant had an altercation with the Commissioner during an official meeting and pushed an intervening staff member resulting in a fracture. Eyewitness testimonies were found credible by the Sessions Court and High Court. Despite the offence, Court believed the Appellant can benefit from probation.
“The Sessions Court and the High Court believed the testimonies of the eyewitnesses and especially of PW1 and PW6. Considering the nature of the offence, we are of the considered view that the benefit of probation can be extended to the appellant”, the Bench asserted.
Additionally, the Court observed that the individual was guilty of offences under Sections 333, 353, and 451 of the IPC for entering a chamber and using offensive language towards a public servant, along with other officials. In this context, the Court held, “Accordingly, the Court partly allowed the Appeal and sentenced one month of simple imprisonment and a fine of ₹30,000 for Section 333, a fine of ₹20,000 for Section 353, and one month of simple imprisonment and a fine of ₹25,000 for Section 451. The imprisonments are to be administered concurrently. For the offence punishable under Section 333 of the IPC, the appellant shall undergo simple imprisonment for one month and pay a fine of ₹30,000/ within one month from today. For the offence punishable under Section 451 of the IPC, the appellant shall undergo simple imprisonment for one month and to pay a fine of ₹25,000/ within a period of one month from today. We bring down the sentence for the offence punishable under Section 353 of the IPC by directing the appellant to pay a fine of ₹20,000/ within a period of one month from today…The substantive sentences shall run concurrently”.
Cause Title: Razia Khan v. The State of M.P. (2023 INSC 667)