February 08, 2019:
On Friday, the Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta, of Hon’ble Supreme Court enunciates, where minimum sentence is provided for in a statute, the Court cannot impose less than the minimum sentence.
The State has filed an appeal in the present case against the Order dated 08.05.2012 passed by the High Court of Judicature of Madhya Pradesh at Jabalpur, sentencing the respondent for an offence under Section 3(1)(xi) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 19891.
The relevant extract from the order of the High Court reads as under:-
“…Learned counsel for the appellant, at the outset, submitted that he does not wish to press the appeal on merit and confine his arguments to the sentence Part only. He has challenged only quantum of punishment…..
….Accordingly, the appeal filed by the appellant is partly allowed. The order of conviction passed against the appellant is maintained. However, the sentence of six months R.I. awarded to the appellant is modified to the extent of sentence already undergone by him…..”.
The Bench highlights that Section 3(1) of the Act provides for a punishment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine. Therefore, the only question is whether the High Court could award sentence less than the minimum sentence contemplated by the Statute.
It is therefore observed by the Apex Court, “….where minimum sentence is provided for, the Court cannot impose less than the minimum
sentence. It is also held that provisions of Article 142 of the Constitution cannot be resorted to impose sentence less than the minimum sentence.
…the conviction has not been disputed by the respondent before the High Court as the quantum of punishment alone was disputed.
Thus, the High Court could not award sentence less than the minimum sentence contemplated by the Statute…“.
Read Judgment @ LatestLaws.com