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Report No. 35

Topic Number 42

Conclusion, regarding necessity of provision requiring reasons for lesser sentence

820. Provision requiring court to state reasons recommended.-

The replies to question 8 show a considerable body of opinion which is in favour of a provision requiring the court to state its reasons for imposing the punishment either of death or of imprisonment for life1. Further, this would be a good safeguard to ensure that the lower courts examine the case elaborately from the point of view of sentence as from the point of view of guilt. It would also provide good material at the time when a recommendation for mercy is to be made by the court, or a petition for mercy is considered.

Again, it would increase the confidence of the people in the courts, by showing that the discretion is judicially exercised. It would also facilitate the task of the High Court in appeal or in proceedings for confirmation in respect of the sentence (where the sentence awarded is that of death), or in proceedings in revision for enhancement of the sentence (where the sentence awarded is one of imprisonment for life).

1. Paras. 801-882, supra.

821. Recommendation.-

Thus, there appears to be sufficient justification for a provision requiring the court to state its reasons, whenever it awards either of the two sentence in a capital case. We recommend the insertion of such a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.

822. It is possible to think of an alternative, namely, that the court should be required to state its reasons only when the sentence of death is passed. Or, the opposite alternative can be thought of, namely, the court should be required to give its reasons only where the sentence of imprisonment for life is passed. Neither of these alternatives can, however, be recommended.

The adoption of either alternative would mean, or would be construed as meaning, a legislative determination that the sentence for which reasons are to be given is to be the exception, and the other sentence is to be the rule. Further, the adoption of the second alternative would mean1 the virtual restoration of section 367(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, as it stood before the Amendment of 1955.

1. See paras. 791-799, supra.

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