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Report No. 142

9.29. Commentary.-

It is no doubt true that the Legislature would provide a minimum sentence having regard to the fact that the Legislature considers the offence to be a very serious one and is desirous to ensure that no sentence less than the minimum is imposed by a court in order that the minimum sentence may have the desired deterrent and punitive effect. But then even in cases where minimum sentence is provided, the ratio of convictions is very low by reason of the fact that sometimes there is tampering with the evidence, sometimes some technical lacunae are found and sometimes there is laxity on the part of the prosecution in several respects.

If, however, by making recourse to the scheme, an offender pleads guilty by reason of feeling contrite and wanting to make amends or an offender is honest and candid enough to plead guilty in the hope that the community will treat him with a degree of compassion and consideration due to a person who honesty admits his guilt and feels contrite unlike a person who by virtue of his money-power or the power to withstand the hardship of litigation reposes faith in contesting notwithstanding his awareness of the factum of guilt, treating an honest person who wants to make amends alike a person who wants to contest knowing his guilt and the injury caused to the community is treating unequals as equals.

It is also unjust and unfair. In such an event, even an honest person would be discouraged from availing of the benevolent scheme for concessional treatment. Under the circumstances, it may be in the overall interest of the community to enable a person who honestly wants to own up his guilt and make amends by undergoing a term in jail to show some consideration to the person who wants to make amends.

If, therefore, the Competent Authority is authorised to impose a substantive jail sentence to the tune of one-half of the minimum prescribed by the relevant statute, the scheme may become workable and may yield a just and fair result which would uphold the sanctity of law as also accord a compassionate treatment to an honest person.

A statutory provision empowering the Competent Authority to do so notwithstanding anything contained in any other law would, of course, have to be made in order that the provision prescribing the minimum sentence in the relevant law is not violated. It may be mentioned that so long as a person guilty of an offence which the community considers to be grave meriting a minimum jail term undergoes actual imprisonment with the resultant loss of reputation, status and with the attendant stigma and dishonour, whether he undergoes for the prescribed period of, say, one year or the concessional period of six months, it would hardly make any difference.

For, the deterrent effect and the punitive purpose of the law would have been served without compromising the interest of the community and the will of the legislature. It is in this background that recommendation in this behalf is being made which, it is hoped, will be appreciated in the aforesaid perspective and spirit underlying the recommendation.

Concessional Treatment for Offenders who on their own initiative choose to plead guilty without any bargaining Back

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