Monday, Sep 22, 2003
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By Our Legal Correspondent
A Bench, comprising Justice Doraiswamy Raju and Justice Arijit Pasayat, observed that because of the liberal attitude of the courts "a shockingly large number of criminals go unpunished, thereby increasingly encouraging the criminals and, ultimately, making justice suffer by weakening the system's credibility".
The judges said the "imposition of appropriate punishment is the manner in which the court responds to the society's cry for justice against the criminal. Justice demands that courts impose punishment befitting the crime so that the courts reflect public abhorrence of the crime".
They reminded the courts that they must not only keep in view the rights of the criminals but also the rights of the victims and the society at large while considering the imposition of an appropriate punishment. Undue sympathy and an inadequate sentence to the accused would undermine public confidence in the efficacy of law and society. For extremely heinous crimes, perpetrated in a brutal manner, the most deterrent punishment must be given.
In this case, the Madhya Pradesh High Court in 1996 awarded two years punishment for an offence of "homicide not amounting to murder" on the only ground that the crime was committed 15 years ago. Aggrieved, the State Government preferred an appeal in the apex court.
Allowing the appeal, the Bench held that a sentence of six years imprisonment would meet the ends of justice. It made it clear that long pendency of a matter by itself could not justify a lesser sentence and directed the respondent, Ganshyam Singh, who was on bail during the pendency of this appeal, to surrender immediately to serve the remaining term of the sentence.
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