Report No. 156
Working Session I: Sentencing Policy and Combating organised Crime-Kidnapping for ransom
This session was devoted to sentencing policy and Combating organised crime-Kidnapping for ransom. The Session was presided over by Mr. Justice M.M. Punchhi, Judge, Supreme Court of India. Mr. Justice Punchhi made general observation regarding the principles to be followed by courts while determining and awarding sentences. "For a judge, sentencing is a very difficult task" said Justice Punchhi. He also said "my experience shows any guidelines leads to injustice".
Shri P.P. Rao, Sr. Advocate, who was a key Speaker on the subject generally endorsed the concept of plea bargaining which according to him, plays a vital role in the administration of criminal justice. He stated that retribution has now become a thing of past and that the implementation of preventive theory of punishment is a difficult task.
He laid emphasis on the speedy trial of cases so as to ensure full compliance with Article 21 of the Constitution. However, the ground realities have to be kept in view while having a thorough look at the sentencing policy. He supported the new kinds of punishment proposed to be incorporated in the I.P.C. (Amendment) Bill, 1978. He stated that trial by the media also hampers the justice.
Dr. R.K. Yadav observed that a Judge has to follow certain principles before passing sentences like the facts perceived by the witnesses before him and then he has to form an opinion whether witnesses were trustworthy and that present sentencing policy tells us only to give either maximum or in some cases minimum sentence and as these guidelines are not, enough, Judge has to evolve his own theory of punishment and then use his discretion in the circumstances of each case depending upon his perception of fact, his skill, his social ideology, his own norms, etc. He also stated that apart from the above, there may be several mitigating factors to be taken into account while awarding the sentence. He endorsed the concept of "Public Censure" as a new form of punishment.
Shri Anup George Chaudhary, Sr. Advocate, has stated that the proposed new forms of punishment are not properly stated in the proposed Bill and he also talked about the practical difficulties while implementing them. He suggested that as in the matter of punishment of imprisonment for life, the convict is normally released after fourteen years which may not give the desired effect of the punishment, this aspect needs to be considered.
Prof. B.B. Pandey has laid emphasis on reintegration and resocialisation of the criminals into the society so that he does not feel stigmatised in the society for all the time to come.
Shri Shekhar Gupta, Editor, Indian Express, observed that securing conviction through media should be discarded and avoided and that the man should not feel to have been affected by the media before even the actual trial commences. He also observed that minimum sentence as a matter of policy should not be prescribed as it does not serve any purpose and that the court should avoid imposing such fines as may ultimately prove to be counter-productive in the administration of criminal justice.
He emphasised the importance of awarding compensation to the victims and that the same should be normally awarded out of the fine imposed on the accused and section 357 should be suitably amended so as to provide for giving reasons in case where compensation is not given.