Fixed Term Sentence; Vikas Yadav Vs. State of U.P. [Supreme Court of India, 03-10-2016]

Penal Code, 1860 – Ss. 302, 364, 201 r/s. 34 – Fixed Term Sentence – Imposition of – Justified – the imposition of fixed term sentence on the appellants by the High Court cannot be found fault with – trial Court has imposed the life sentence and directed all the sentences to be concurrent. The High Court has declined to enhance the sentence from imprisonment for life to death, but has imposed a fixed term sentence. The High Court has not directed that the sentence under Section 201/34 IPC shall run first and, thereafter, the fixed term sentence will commence. Held that the sentence imposed for the offence punishable under Section 201/34 IPC shall run concurrently with the sentence imposed for other offences by the High Court. Consequently, the appeals are disposed of with the singular modification in the sentence i.e. the sentence under Section 201/34 IPC shall run concurrently. All other sentences and directions will remain intact.

Fixed Term Sentence

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

(Dipak Misra) and (C. Nagappan) JJ.

October 3, 2016

CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 1531-1533 OF 2015

Vikas Yadav …Appellant(s)

Versus

State of U.P. and Ors. Etc. Etc. …Respondent(s)

WITH

CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 1528-1530 OF 2015

J U D G M E N T

Dipak Misra, J.

The appellants in this batch of appeals stand convicted for the offences under

Sections 302, 364, 201 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

This Court while hearing the special leave petitions on 17.08.2015 had passed the following order:-

“Delay condoned.

Having heard learned senior counsel for the petitioners at great length, we are of the view, that the impugned orders call for no interference whatsoever insofar as the conviction of the petitioners is concerned. The conviction of the three petitioners, as recorded by the courts below, is accordingly upheld.

Issue notice, on the quantum of sentence, returnable after six weeks.”

2. On 16.06.2015 leave was granted. Thus, we are only concerned with the legal defensibility and the justifiability of the imposition of sentence.

3. The arguments in these appeals commenced on issues of law. Mr. U.R. Lalit and Mr. Shekhar Naphade, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant in Criminal Appeal Nos. 1531-1533 of 2015 and Mr. Atul Nanda, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant in Criminal Appeal Nos. 1528-1530 of 2015 questioned the propriety of the sentence as the High Court has imposed a fixed term sentence, i.e., 25 years for the offence under Section 302 IPC and 5 years for offence under Section 201 IPC with the stipulation that both the sentences would run consecutively. It is apt to note here that separate sentences have been imposed in respect of other offences but they have been directed to be concurrent. After advancing the arguments relating to the jurisdiction of the High Court as well as this Court on imposition of fixed term/period sentence, more so when the trial court has not imposed death sentence, the learned counsel argued that the factual score in the instant case did not warrant such harsh delineation as a consequence disproportionate sentences have been imposed.

4. Keeping in view the chronology of advancement of arguments, we think it apt to deal with the jurisdictional facet. If we negative the proposition advanced by the learned counsel for the appellants, then only we shall be required to proceed to deal with the facts as requisite to be stated for the purpose of adjudicating the justifiability of imposition of such sentence. If we accede to the first submission, then the second aspect would not call for any deliberation. At this juncture, it is necessary to state that the learned trial judge by order dated 30.05.2008 sentenced Vikas Yadav and Vishal Yadav to life imprisonment as well as fine of one lakh each under Section 302 IPC and, in default of payment of fine, to undergo simple imprisonment for one year. They were sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for ten years and fine of Rs. 50,000/- each for their conviction under Section 364/34 IPC, in default to undergo simple imprisonment for six months and rigorous imprisonment for five years and fine of Rs. 10,000/- each under Section 201/34 IPC, in default, simple imprisonment for three months. All sentences were directed to run concurrently. Sukhdev Yadav @ Pehalwan who was tried separately because of his abscondence in SC No. 76 of 2008 was convicted for the offences under Sections 302/364/34 IPC and Section 201 and by order dated 12.07.2011, he was sentenced to undergo life imprisonment and fine of Rs. 10,000/- for commission of the offence under Section 302 IPC, in default, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years; rigorous imprisonment for seven years and fine of Rs. 5,000/- for commission of the offence under Section 364 IPC, in default, to suffer rigorous imprisonment for six months; rigorous imprisonment for three years and fine of Rs. 5,000/- for his conviction under Section 201 IPC, in default, to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for six months. All sentences were directed to be concurrent.

5. Be it noted, the prosecution, – State of NCT of Delhi preferred an appeal under Section 377 CrPC for enhancement of sentence of imprisonment of life to one of death for the offence under Section 302 IPC. The High Court addressed to number of issues, namely,

(a) statutory provisions and jurisprudence regarding imposition of the death penalty;

(b) death sentence jurisprudence – divergence in views;

(c) life imprisonment – meaning and nature of;

(d) the authority of the judiciary to regulate the power of the executive to remit the sentence or to put in other words jurisdiction of the court to direct minimum term sentence in excess of imposition of 14 years;

(e) if there are convictions for multiple offences in one case, does the court have the option of directing that the sentences imposed thereon shall run consecutively and not concurrently;

(f) honour killing – whether penalty of only the death sentence;

(g) contours of the jurisdiction of the High Court to enhance a sentence imposed by the trial court and competency to pass orders under Section 357 of the CrPC in the appeal by the State or revision by a complainant seeking enhancement of sentence;

(h) sentencing procedure and pre-sentencing hearing nature of;

(i) concerns for the victims – award of compensation to heal and as a method of reconciling victim to the offender;

(j) State’s liability to pay compensation;

(k) fine and compensation – constituents, reasonability and adequacy;

(l) sentencing principles;

(m) jurisdiction of the appellate court while considering a prayer for enhancement of the sentence;

(n) if not death penalty, what would be an adequate sentence in the present case; and (o) what ought to be the fitnes in the present case.

6. Apart from the said aspects, the High Court also addressed to certain aspects which are specific to the case at hand to which we will advert to at a later stage.

7. The High Court, after addressing the aspects which we have catalogued and some other fact specific issues, imposed the following sentences:-