The Supreme Court held that courts have to preserve the interest of the victim and society at large while awarding punishment. The question of awarding sentence is an issue of discretion for the courts and ought to be exercised on attention of records and events of the case, a Bench of Justice R Banumathi and AS Bopanna ruled. Even while considering the quantum of sentence, the courts are expected to bear in mind all applicable statistics and facts of the case. Especially, the character of accidents prompted in the prevalence and the weapon used on the way to have bearing at the query of sentence are to be taken into account. Courts are sure to impose a sentence commensurate with the gravity of the offence, the Bench said.
The judgment was delivered in an appeal against decision of the High court which had affirmed the punishment of accused Devraj under section 307 IPC read with section 34 IPC however decreased the sentence of imprisonment imposed upon him from seven years to 5 years. The appellant-complainant had filed the current appeal challenging the decrease in sentence of imprisonment of the respondent. In Suryakant Baburao @ Ramrao Phad vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors. [SPL (Crl.) No.8894 of 2018], the High court reduced the sentence of imprisonment from seven years to 5 years sentenced to an ‘attempt to murder’ accused.
The trial court convicted accused Nos. 1 to 3 under Sec. 307 IPC read with sec 34 IPC and sentenced each of them to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years and also to pay a fine of Rs.15,000/- . The trial court also convicted them under section 323 read with sec. 34 IPC and sentenced each of them to go through rigorous imprisonment for 6 months and to pay a fee of Rs.500/- .
In the appeal filed earlier , the High court affirmed the conviction of accused No.1-Devraj under section 307 read with Sec. 34 IPC however reduced the sentence of imprisonment imposed upon him to five years. Moreover, the High court directed accused Devraj to pay fine of Rs.25000. The high court additionally convicted Devraj under Sec. 326 read with Sec. 34 IPC and reduced the sentence of imprisonment imposed upon him to the duration already undergone by him and also directed to pay a fine of Rs.15000.
In the instantaneous case, the Court held that thinking about the character of injuries induced to Chandrakant i.e. gunshot wounds in the chest and the opinion of physician that the injuries precipitated had been capable of causing death. Whilst the trial court had exercised its discretion in enforcing seven years of imprisonment, the high court should have taken in view the weapon used by Devraj and the nature of accident induced to Chandrakant and the opinion of the physician.
Interestingly, the Supreme Court additionally observed that courts must not only preserve the right of the accused, but must additionally hold in view the interest of the victim and society at large while awarding punishment. It, therefore, set aside the Bombay High Court judgment to the extent it decreased the sentence of Devraj. It ordered Devraj to be sentenced to go through rigorous imprisonment for 6 years and six months.