The fact of amicable settlement can be a relevant factor for the purpose of reduction in the quantum of sentence, noted the Top Court
These connected appeals have been preferred against the judgment of the High Court of Madras which upheld Murali’s (appellant in SLP (Crl) No 10813/2019) conviction under Sections 324 and 341 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (“IPC”) with a sentence of three months’ rigorous imprisonment, and Rajavelu’s (appellant in SLP (Crl) 10814/2019) conviction under Sections 307 and 341 of IPC and sentence of five years’ rigorous imprisonment. The parties entered into amicable settlement, during the pendency of appeal before the Supreme Court.
Observation of the Apex Court
- The Court said that, there can be no doubt that Section 320 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (“CrPC”) does not encapsulate Section 324 and 307 IPC under its list of compoundable offences. Given the unequivocal language of Section 320(9) CrPC which explicitly prohibits any compounding except as permitted under the said provision, it would not be possible to compound the appellants’ offences.
“Notwithstanding thereto, it appears to us that the fact of amicable settlement can be a relevant factor for the purpose of reduction in the quantum of sentence.”
“Given this position of law and the peculiar circumstances arising out of subsequent events, we are of the considered opinion that it is a fit case to take a sympathetic view and reconsider the quantum of sentences awarded to the appellants,” the Court held.
- While concluding so the bench referred to some earlier verdicts viz. Ram Pujan v. State of UP [(1973) 2 SCC 456] and Ishwar Singh v. State of MP [(2008) 15 SCC 667], etc wherein compromise between parties were taken note of to reduce the sentence of the convicts even in serious non-compoundable offences.
- The Court further observed that 1) parties to the dispute have mutually buried their hatchet 2) That at the time of the incident, the victim was a college student, and both accused too were no older than 2022 years 3) They have no other criminal antecedents, no previous enmity, and today are married and have children 4) They have served a significant portion of their sentences. Considering all these unique factors, including the compromise between the parties, we deem it appropriate to reduce the quantum of the sentence imposed on the appellants, the bench said while reducing the sentence to the period already undergone by them.
Case Name: Murali vs. State
Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.24/2021
Coram: Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose
The fact of amicable settlement can be a relevant factor for the purpose of reduction in the quantum of sentence: SC