Bikram Dorjee Vs.
State of West Bengal  INSC 815 (24 April 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICITON CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 827 OF 2009
(Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No.9285 of 2008) Bikram Dorjee ...Appellant
Versus State of West Bengal ...Respondent
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in this appeal is to the judgment of a Division Bench of the Calcutta High
Court holding the appellant guilty of offence punishable under Section 304 Part
I of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short the `IPC').
He was sentenced to
undergo imprisonment for life by learned Additional Sessions Judge, Fast Track
Court, Alipurduar. Sentence was confirmed in the appeal.
facts in a nutshell are as under:
On 14.6.2002 at about
4.30 p.m. Santosh Dorjee along with his cousin brother Sankar Dorjee went to an
eatery situated in front of Bhawani Video Hall of Birpara for taking food. They
placed order and were waiting there. All of a sudden one Bikram Dorjee came
there and assaulted Santosh Dorjee by a knife in his belly. Seeing the same assault
Sankar panicked and rushed away from the place of occurrence thinking that
Bikram Dorjee might assault him. He informed the matter to the parents of
Santosh who was by then taken to Birpara hospital. Sankar accompanied father of
Santosh from Birpara to Jalpaiguri Hospital. Santosh was later on transferred
to Silliguri medical college where he died the next day.
Prosecution case the
Birpara P.S. case no. 44/2002 dated 15.6.2002 was started against the accused
Bikram Dorjee under Section 304 IPC. After investigation charge sheet was
filed. Since the accused pleaded innocence trial was held.
The trial Court found
the appellant guilty and convicted him in terms of Section 304 Part I IPC. The
appeal filed by the appellant was dismissed by the High Court.
only point in support of the appeal is relating to quantum of sentence.
counsel for the respondent-State supported the judgment.
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
Naidu (AIR 1991 SC 1463).
logic behind the sentence in a criminal trial has been highlighted by this
Court in State of M.P. v. Ghanashyam Singh (2003 (8) SCC 13).
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
McGautha 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 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.
object should be to protect the society and to deter the criminal in achieving
the avowed object of law by imposing appropriate sentence. It is expected that
the Courts would operate the sentencing system so as to impose such sentence
which reflects the conscience of the society and the sentencing process has to
be stern where it should be.
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
life sentence in appropriate cases can be imposed in a case relatable to
Section 304 Part I IPC, on the peculiar facts of the case, we are of the view
that 10 years custodial sentence would meet the ends of justice.
The appeal is allowed
to the aforesaid extent. The appellant be set at liberty if he has served the
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)