Punishment for crime: India

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Quantum of punishment

Punishment should be proportionate to the gravity of the offence

Apex Court Says Sentence Must Reflect Gravity Of Offence

By Dhananjay Mahapatra, The Times of India, 2013/04/25

The Times of India

Punish convicts for the crime as well as its brutality: SC

New Delhi: The increased brutality in committing crimes, including gang rapes in the recent past, has not been lost on the Supreme Court, which has promised to society that the accused if convicted would get adequately punished not only for the crime but also for their depravity.

It said all trial courts, while awarding punishment to a convict, must follow the cardinal principle of sentencing policy which mandated “the sentence imposed on an offender should reflect the crime he has committed and it should be proportionate to the gravity of the offence”.

“The court must not only keep in view the rights of the victim of the crime but also society at large while considering the imposition of appropriate punishment,” said a bench of Justices P Sathasivam, M Y Eqbal and Arjan K Sikri.

Setting aside a lenient sentence awarded by the Punjab & Haryana high court in an attempt to murder case, the bench said: “The punishment awarded should be directly proportionate to the nature and the magnitude of the offence.”

It said the discretion vested in the judiciary by the legislature for determining appropriate sentence has put the onus on judges to exercise care and caution and arrive at a fair and impartial verdict. It said the sentence would either be reformative or coercive depending on the facts and circumstances of cases. Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Sathasivam said, “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.”

Though the bench said the trial courts must took into account the manner in which the crime was planned and committed as an attendant circumstance for determining the sentence, it stressed that “undue sympathy” should never creep into the mind of a Judge while determining the quantum of punishment.

The bench said, “Undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system to undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law. It is the duty of every court to award proper sentence having regard to the nature of the offence and the manner in which it was executed or committed.”

Criminal’s mental state, socioeconomic conditions be considered while awarding sentence: SC

January 11, 2021: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Holding that the court should not take into consideration only the crime but also the criminal, his state of mind and his socio-economic conditions while awarding the sentence, the Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence of a first time offender who killed his two siblings and a nephew over a property dispute.

A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, B R Gavai and B V Nagarathna said there is a chance of reformation of the convict as his conduct in jail is satisfactory and commuted his sentence to 30-years imprisonment. The bench agreed with the contention of advocate N Hariharan who submitted on the convict that the trial court and Madhya Pradesh high court erred in awarding the sentence as they did not consider that he was first time offender and not a hardened criminal.

“In view of the settled legal position, it is our bounden duty to take into consideration the probability of the accused being reformed and rehabilitated. It is also our duty to take into consideration not only the crime but also the criminal, his state of mind and his socio-economic conditions,” Justice Gavai, who penned down the judgment for the bench, said.

The court noted that both the convict and deceased were rustic villagers belonging to poor families and were involved in property disputes and state government also did not place on record any evidence to show that there was no possibility with respect to his reformation or rehabilitation.

“The appellant comes from a rural and economically poor background. There are no criminal antecedents. The appellant cannot be said to be a hardened criminal. This is the first offence committed by the appellant, no doubt, a heinous one. The certificate issued by the Jail Superintendent shows that the conduct of the appellant during incarceration has been satisfactory. It cannot therefore be said that there is no possibility of the appellant being reformed and rehabilitated foreclosing the alternative option of a lesser sentence and making imposition of the death sentence imperative,” it said.

Referring to the judgment of the trial court and the high court, the court said it does not appear that the courts below have drawn a balance sheet of mitigating and aggravating circumstances. “The trial court as well as the high court has only taken into consideration the crime but have not taken into consideration the criminal, his state of mind, his socioeconomic background etc,” it said. “We are therefore inclined to convert the sentence imposed on the appellant from death to life. However, taking into consideration the gruesome murder of two of his siblings and one nephew, we are of the view that the appellant deserves rigorous imprisonment of 30 years,” it said.

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