SC: Law does not bar sentencing and conviction on the same day

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 5th March 2020, in the matter of Manoj Suryavanshi v. State of Chhattisgarh pronounced that there is no absolute proposition of law that if the sentence is awarded on the very same day on which the conviction was recorded, the sentencing would be vitiated.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

Before convicting the accused on the basis of circumstantial evidence, the prosecution has to prove beyond doubt and complete the chain of events which lead to the conclusion that it is the accused alone who has committed the offence. (Para 14)

Non­examination of the officer of the mobile company cannot be said to be fatal to the case of the prosecution, more particularly, when the CDR has been got exhibited, through the deposition of the Investigating Officer and when the same was exhibited, no objection was raised on behalf of the defence. (Para 19.1)

Even the deposition of the hostile witness to the extent it supports the case of the prosecution can be relied upon. (Para 20)

The minor discrepancies and inconsistencies in the statements of the prosecution witnesses and the minor lacuna in the investigation led by the police cannot be a reason for discarding the entire prosecution case, if the evidence is otherwise sufficient and inspiring to bring home the guilt of the accused. (Para 21)

Minor embellishment, there may be, but variations by reason therefore should not render the evidence unbelievable. Trivial discrepancies ought not to obliterate an otherwise acceptable evidence. The Court shall have to bear in mind that different witnesses react differently under different situations: whereas some become speechless; some start wailing while some others run away from the scene and yet there are some who may come forward with courage, conviction and belief that the wrong should be remedied. page48image2194800544page48image2239239152So it depends upon individuals and individuals. There cannot be any set pattern or uniform rule of human reaction and to discard a piece of evidence on the ground of his reaction not falling within a set pattern is unproductive. (Para 21)

The object and purpose of Section 235(2) Cr.P.C. is that the accused must be given an opportunity to make a representation against the sentence to be imposed on him. Sub­section (2) of Section 235 satisfies a dual purpose; it satisfies the rule of natural justice by affording to the accused an opportunity of being heard on the question of sentence and at the same time helps the court to choose the sentence to be awarded. So, what is required to be considered is whether at the time of awarding of sentence, sufficient and proper opportunity has been given to the accused or not and when the capital punishment is awarded, whether the accused has been given the opportunity to point out the aggravating and mitigating circumstances or not? (Para 23)

There is no absolute proposition of law that in no case there can be conviction and sentence on the same day. There is no absolute proposition of law that if the sentence is awarded on the very same day on which the conviction was recorded, the sentencing would be vitiated. (Para 23)

It is true that the court must respond to the cry of the society and to settle what would be the deterrent punishment for an abominable crime. It is also equally true that a larger number of criminals go unpunished thereby increasing criminals in the society and law losing its deterrent effect. .It is also true that the peculiar circumstances of a given case often results in miscarriage of justice and makes the justice delivery system a suspect; in the ultimate analysis, the society suffers and a criminal get encouraged. Sometimes it is stated that only rights of criminals are kept in mind, the victims are forgotten. However, at the same time, while imposing the rarest of rare punishment, i.e. death penalty, the Court must balance the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the crime and it would depend upon particular and peculiar facts and circumstances of each case. (Para 25.6)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_06-Mar-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *