Boutique Litigation Law Firm - Retain Lawyers - Research based Law Firm - Complete legal services

Obligatory upon the Court while awarding multiple punishments of imprisonment, to specify as to whether the sentences would run concurrently or consecutively, SC

The SC on May 25, 2021 {SUNIL KUMAR @ SUDHIR KUMAR & ANR. vs. THE STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH } held that it is legally obligatory upon the Court of first instance, while awarding multiple punishments of imprisonment, to specify in clear terms as to whether the sentences would run concurrently or consecutively. It was held that it needs hardly an emphasis that any omission to carry out this obligation by the Court of first instance causes unnecessary and avoidable prejudice to the parties, be it the accused or be it the prosecution. 

It was also held by the Bench, comprising of Justice DINESH MAHESHWARI and Justice ANIRUDDHA BOSE that if the Court of first instance does not specify the concurrent running of sentences, the inference, primarily, is that the Court intended such sentences to run consecutively, though, the Court of first instance ought not to leave this matter for deduction at the later stage. Moreover, it was held that if the Court of first instance is intending consecutive running of sentences, there is yet another obligation on it to state the order (i.e., the sequence) in which they are to be executed.

It was held that the disturbing part of the present matter is that not only the Trial Court omitted to state the requisite specifications, even the High Court missed out such flaws in the order of the Trial Court. In the present case, the Jail Superintendent, District Jail, Meerut, while issuing certificates of confinement on 14.03.2018, stated that the accused-appellants had undergone 10 years and 1 month of imprisonment but, there being no mention in the sentencing order about concurrent running of sentences, they were serving 22 years of imprisonment. 

The scope of the present appeal before the SC was restricted to the question of sentence; and the appellants herein, after their conviction of offences under Sections 363, 366 and 376(1) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’), have already undergone 13 years and 2 months of imprisonment. For the reason that the decisions of courts below were silent on the point of concurrent or consecutive running of sentences, faced with such a predicament, the accused-appellants had approached the Supreme Court.

In view of the above, in exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, the SC provided for modification of the punishment awarded to the appellants in the manner that the maximum period of imprisonment to be served by them in relation to offences in question shall be 14 years and not beyond. It was also held that this order of modification is passed only in the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published