Punjab Vs. Madan Lal  INSC 495 (5 March 2009)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 529
OF 2004 State of Punjab ..Appellant Versus Madan Lal ..Respondent
ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
The State of Punjab is in appeal against the judgment of a learned
Single Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court allowing the application
filed in terms of Section 482 read with Section 427 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure, 1973 (in short the `Code'). The prayer was to the effect that the
quantum of punishment awarded may be permitted to run concurrently in respect
of the three convictions and sentences imposed.
The convictions were in terms of Section 138 of the Negotiable
Instruments Act, 1881 (in short the `Act'). The High Court noted that all the
transactions related to the family of the respondent and the matter related to
different cheques issued by the respondent to the complainant party. For this
purpose separate complaints were filed. The High Court accordingly directed
that the sentences imposed by learned Additional Sessions Judge, Ludhiana and
Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Khanna were to run concurrently.
According to the State the judgment of the High Court is
In the impugned judgment of the High Court, reference was made to
the decision of this court in Mohd. Akthar alias Ibrahim Ahmed Bhatti v.
Assistant Collector of Customs (Prevention), Ahmadabad and Others (AIR 1988 SC
2143) wherein it was held as under :- "The basic rule of thumb over the
years has been the so called transactions rule for concurrent sentences. If a
given transaction constitutes two offences under two enactments generally, it
is wrong to have consecutive sentences. It is proper and legitimate to have concurrent
sentences. But this rule has no application if the transaction relating to
offence is shot the same or the facts constituting the two offences are quite
The majority view in State of Maharashtra v. Najakat alias Mubarak
Ali [2001(6) SCC 311] was to similar effect. Paragraphs 14 to 18 in the above
case it was held as follows:
The purpose of Section 428 of the Code is also for advancing amelioration to
the prisoner. We may point out that the section does not contain any indication
that if the prisoner was in jail as an under-trial prisoner in a second case
the benefit envisaged in the section would be denied to him in respect of the
learned counsel for the appellant contended that the words of the same case in
the section would afford sufficient indication that the benefit is intended to
cover only for one case and not more than that. It must be remembered that the
ideology enshrined in Section 428 was introduced for the first time only in the
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. For understanding the contours of the
legislative measure involved in that section, it is advantageous to have a look
at the Objects and Reasons for bringing the above legislative provision. We
therefore extract the same here:
The Committee has noted the distressing fact that in many cases accused persons
are kept in prison for very long period as under-trial prisoners and in some
cases the sentence of imprisonment ultimately awarded is a fraction of the
period spent in jail as under-trial prisoner. Indeed, there may even be cases
where such a person is acquitted. No doubt, sometimes courts do take into
account the period of detention undergone as under-trial prisoner when passing
sentence and occasionally the sentence of imprisonment is restricted to the
period already undergone. But this is not always the case so 3 that in many
cases the accused person is made to suffer jail life for a period out of all
proportion to the gravity of the offence or even to the punishment provided in
Committee has also noted that a large number of persons in the overcrowded
jails of today are under-trial prisoners.
clause seeks to remedy this unsatisfactory state of affairs. The new clause
provides for the setting off of the period of detention as an under-trial
prisoner against the sentence of imprisonment imposed on him. The Committee
trusts that the provision contained in the new clause would go a long way to
mitigate the evil."
purpose is therefore clear that the convicted person is given the right to
reckon the period of his sentence of imprisonment from the date he was in jail
as an under-trial prisoner. In other words, the period of his being in jail as
an under-trial prisoner would be added as a part of the period of imprisonment
to which he is sentenced. We may now decipher the two requisites postulated in
Section 428 of the Code:
During the stage of investigation, inquiry or trial of a particular case the
prisoner should have been in jail at least for a certain period.
should have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment in that case.
the above two conditions are satisfied then the operative part of the provision
comes into play i.e. if the sentence of imprisonment awarded is longer than the
period of detention undergone by him during the stages of investigation,
inquiry or trial, the convicted person need undergo only the balance period of
imprisonment after deducting the earlier period from the total period of
imprisonment awarded. The words "if any" in the Section amplifies
that if there is no balance period left after such deduction the convict will
be entitled to be set free from jail, unless he is required in any other case.
In other words, if the 4 convict was in prison, for whatever reason, during the
stages of investigation, inquiry or trial of a particular case and was later
convicted and sentenced to any term of imprisonment in that case the earlier
period of detention undergone by him should be counted as part of the sentence
imposed on him.
the above context it is apposite to point out that very often it happens when
an accused is convicted in one case under different counts of offences and
sentenced to different terms of imprisonment under each such count, all such
sentences are directed to run concurrently. The idea behind it is that the
imprisonment to be suffered by him for one count of offence will, in fact and
in effect be imprisonment for other count as well.
Reading Section 428 of the Code in the above perspective, the words `of the
same case' are not to be understood as suggesting that the set off is allowable
only if the earlier jail life was undergone by him exclusively for the case in
which the sentence is imposed. The period during which the accused was in
prison subsequent to the inception of a particular case, should be credited
towards the period of imprisonment awarded as sentence in that particular case.
It is immaterial that the prisoner was undergoing sentence of imprisonment in
another case also during the said period. The words "of the same
case" were used to refer to the pre-sentence period of detention undergone
by him. Nothing more can be made out of the collocation of those words."
(Per Justice Thomas)
Justice Phukan agreed with the view expressed by Justice Thomas
and observed in Para 44 as follows:
only question which according to me needs consideration is the true effect of
the expression "same case" as appearing in Section 428 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure. The provision is couched in clear and unambiguous language
and states that the period of detention which it allows to be set off against
the 5 term of imprisonment imposed on the accused on conviction must be one
undergone by him during investigation, enquiry or trial in connection with the
"same case" in which he has been convicted. Any other period which is
not connected with the said case cannot be said to be reckonable for set off.
The view of learned Brother Mr. Justice Thomas according to me accords the
legislative intent. Acceptance of any other view would mean necessary (sic
necessarily) either adding or subtracting words to the existing provision,
which would not be a proper procedure to be adopted while interpreting the
provision in question."
Above being the position, the appeal is without merit, deserves
dismissal which we direct. `
………….................. ..........................J. (Dr. ARIJIT
.............................................J. (LOKESHWAR SINGH