State of M.P. Vs.
Pappu & Ajay  INSC 1305 (4 August 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. OF 2008 (Arising
out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No.1166 of 2006) State of Madhya Pradesh ...Appellant
Versus Pappu @ Ajay ...Respondent
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
the only question involved in this appeal is whether learned Single Judge was
justified in reducing the sentence, as imposed by the High Court on the
respondent, detailed reference to the factual aspects is unnecessary.
respondent faced trial for offences punishable under Sections 376(1) read with
Section 511 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short `the IPC') and Sections
324 and 452 IPC. For the first offence, he was sentenced to undergo rigorous
imprisonment for four years with a fine of Rs.2,000/- with default
stipulations. For the second offence, he was sentenced to undergo rigorous
imprisonment for one year with a fine of Rs.500/- with default stipulations.
Similarly, for the last offence, he was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment
for one year and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- with default stipulations.
preferred an appeal before the High Court and the High Court, by the impugned
order, held that since the respondent had undergone imprisonment for about five
months and 25 days, the sentence should be reduced to the period already
undergone in respect of the first offence.
State of Madhya Pradesh has questioned correctness of the judgment on the
ground that considering 3 the gravity of the offence involved, the High Court
ought not to have reduced the sentence to the period undergone which, as noted
above, was less than six months.
counsel for the respondent supported the judgment of the High Court.
the instant case the victim was examined as PW-3.
is to be noted that three persons faced trial and the co-accused persons were
acquitted of the charges.
rightly submitted by learned counsel for the appellant - State, no reason has
been indicated by the High Court to direct reduction of sentence.
law regulates social interests, arbitrates conflicting claims and demands.
Security of persons and property of the people is an essential function of the
State. It could be achieved through instrumentality of criminal law.
Undoubtedly, there is
a cross cultural conflict where living law 4 must find answer to the new
challenges and the courts are required to mould the sentencing system to meet
the challenges. The contagion of lawlessness would undermine social order and
lay it in ruins. Protection of society and stamping out criminal proclivity
must be the object of law which must be achieved by imposing appropriate
Therefore, law as a
corner-stone of the edifice of "order" should meet the challenges
confronting the society. Friedman in his "Law in Changing Society"
stated that, "State of criminal law continues to be as it should be a
decisive reflection of social consciousness of society". Therefore, in
operating the sentencing system, law should adopt the corrective machinery or
the deterrence based on factual matrix. By deft modulation sentencing process
be stern where it should be, and tempered with mercy where it warrants to be.
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
undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice
system to undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law and society
could not long endure under such serious threats. It is, therefore, 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 etc. This position was
illuminatingly stated by this Court in Sevaka Perumal etc. v. State of Tamil
Nadu (AIR 1991 SC 1463).
criminal law adheres in general to the principle of proportionality in
prescribing liability according to the culpability of each kind of criminal
conduct. It ordinarily allows some significant discretion to the Judge in
arriving at a sentence in each case, presumably to permit sentences that
reflect more subtle considerations of culpability that are raised by the
special facts of each case. Judges in essence affirm that punishment ought
always to fit the crime; yet in practice sentences are determined largely by
Sometimes it is the
correctional needs of the perpetrator that 6 are offered to justify a
sentence. Sometimes the desirability of keeping him out of circulation, and
sometimes even the tragic results of his crime. Inevitably these considerations
cause a departure from just desert as the basis of punishment and create cases
of apparent injustice that are serious and widespread.
giving due consideration to the facts and circumstances of each case, for
deciding just and appropriate sentence to be awarded for an offence, the
aggravating and mitigating factors and circumstances in which a crime has been
committed are to be delicately balanced on the basis of really relevant
circumstances in a dispassionate manner by the Court. Such act of balancing is
indeed a difficult task. It has been very aptly indicated in Dennis Councle
MCGDautha v. State of Callifornia: 402 US 183: 28 L.D. 2d 711 that no formula
of a foolproof nature is possible that would provide a reasonable criterion in
determining a just and appropriate punishment in the infinite variety of
circumstances that may affect the gravity of the crime. In the absence of any
foolproof 7 formula which may provide any basis for reasonable criteria to
correctly assess various circumstances germane to the consideration of gravity
of crime, the discretionary judgment in the facts of each case, is the only way
in which such judgment may be equitably distinguished.
of sentence without considering its effect on the social order in many cases
may be in reality a futile exercise. The social impact of the crime, e.g. where
it relates to offences against women, dacoity, kidnapping, misappropriation of
public money, treason and other offences involving moral turpitude or moral
delinquency which have great impact on social order, and public interest,
cannot be lost sight of and per se require exemplary treatment. Any liberal
attitude by imposing meager sentences or taking too sympathetic view merely on
account of lapse of time in respect of such offences will be result-wise
counter productive in the long run and against societal interest which needs to
be cared for and strengthened by string of deterrence inbuilt in the sentencing
Court will be failing in its duty if appropriate punishment is not awarded for
a crime which has been committed not only against the individual victim but
also against the society to which the criminal and victim belong.
The punishment to be
awarded for a crime must not be irrelevant but it should conform to and be
consistent with the atrocity and brutality with which the crime has been
perpetrated, the enormity of the crime warranting public abhorrence and it
should "respond to the society's cry for justice against the
criminal". If for extremely heinous crime of murder perpetrated in a very
brutal manner without any provocation, most deterrent punishment is not given,
the case of deterrent punishment will lose its relevance.
aspects have been elaborated in State of M.P. v. Ghanshyam Singh (2003(8) SCC
13), and State of M.P. v. Babbu Barkare alias Dalap Singh (2005 (5) SCC 413).
the legal position as indicated above the 9 High Court's order is clearly
unsustainable and is accordingly set aside. The judgment of the Trial Court is
restored. The respondent shall surrender to custody forthwith to serve the
remainder of sentence.
appeal is allowed.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)