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Imprisonment of Six Months stands substituted by fine of Rs 1000, 26 years elapsed from the incident: Supreme Court

The SC on June 30, 2021 {SURENDRAN vs. SUB-INSPECTOR OF POLICE} held that it does not find any error in conviction recorded by the Trial Court. It was held that the conviction of appellant is affirmed, however, looking to the facts and circumstances of the present case specially the fact that 26 years have elapsed from the incident, it is inclined to substitute the sentence of six months imprisonment under Section 279 and 338 into fine. It was held that six months sentence under Section 279 and 338 IPC are substituted by fine of Rs.1000/- each whereas sentence of fine under Section 337 IPC is maintained. 

It was also observed by the Bench, comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Vineet Saran and Justice M.R. Shah that the incident took place on 16.02.1995 i.e. more than 26 years ago and the appellant was throughout on the bail.

In the present case, the Trial Court after marshalling the evidence has recorded the conviction under Section 279, 338 and awarded sentence of imprisonment of six months and further sentenced to pay a fine of Rs.500/- under Section 337. The appeal before the SC has been filed against the judgment of the High Court dated 01.09.2015 dismissing the Criminal Revision filed by the appellant challenging his conviction and sentence under Section 279, 337 and 338 IPC.

Before the SC, the appellant contended that the appellant is sole bread earning member of a poor family consisting of four children and his wife, and the appellant if sent to jail after more than 21 years, will suffer irreparable injury. The appellant had placed reliance on earlier judgments of the Supreme Court in A.P. Raju versus State of Orissa, 1995 Supp.(2) SCC 385 and Prakash Chandra Agnihotri versus State of M.P., (1990) Supp. SCC 764.

It was held by the SC that the judgment of the Court in Prakash Chandra Agnihotri (Supra) as relied by learned counsel for the appellant does support his submissions. In the above earlier case, the accused was convicted and sentenced for six months under Section 304A. The Supreme Court in that case also converted the sentence of imprisonment into fine of Rs.500/-. It was held in the earlier case too by the Supreme Court that it would be harsh to send the appellant to the Jail after 18 years of the occurrence. 

Accordingly, the judgments of the Courts below were modified to the above extent. The appeal was partly allowed by the SC.

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