Punishment for criminal offences to be meted out while maintaining proportionality of the sentence with the offence

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of G.S. Sistani and Chander Shekhar, JJ. reduced the sentence of an accused convicted under Sections 304, 324, 509 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Section 27 of the Arms Act, 1959, from life imprisonment to rigorous imprisonment of seven-and-a-half years in a criminal appeal.

The unfortunate incident took place outdoors in which the deceased was shot in the face with a licensed revolver from about a distance of 15 cm after a quarrel had taken place between the deceased and the accused. The trial court had convicted the accused under the first part of Section 304 of the Penal Code, 1860. The High Court, though agreed with the conviction, was not of the opinion that the harshest penalty under the section was warranted.

The High Court discussed the main object of sentencing, stating that a balance should be maintained while meting out punishment. Punishment should act as a deterrent but it should not be excessive as an excessive or inadequate punishment leads to a failure of justice. Hence, the Court took note of mitigating circumstances such as the young age of the appellant, satisfactory conduct of the appellant in jail and the incident being a chance happening along with the fact that the appellant was a first time offender to reduce the sentence. The appeal was partly allowed with modifications on conviction and sentence. [Sandeep Kumar v. State of NCT, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 9268, decided on 17.07.2017].

One comment

  • While the reduction of sentence and the reasons for the same appear to be cogent and convincing, the quantum of reduction seems to be overly lenient when the conviction is under S. 304 Part I IPC. Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, a more appropriate sentence based on the principle of proportionality would be rigorous imprisonment of ten years with possibility of parole.

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