HM Journal

Compromise between the accused and the complainant cannot be the primary mitigating element in the sentencing.

Court Name: Supreme court of India

Criminal Appeal No(s). 1039 of 2021

Judgment name: Bhagwan Narayan Gaikwad vs. State of Maharashtra

Judgment Date: September 20, 2021

Bench: Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S Oka

Introduction

In this case the accusation against the appellant was that on December 13, 1993, he assaulted the victim with a sword on his right leg below the knee, nearly mutilating it. The wounded tried to escape the sickle strike by lifting his right hand, but the blow impacted his right arm below the elbow, causing it to become detached and causing copious blood. That the cumulative impact of the victim’s injuries would have resulted in death if prompt medical care had not been provided.

The Trial Court found him guilty of violating Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to 7 years of RI. The High Court maintained the conviction but reduced the punishment to 5 years RI and ordered him to pay the victim Rs. 2 lakhs in monetary compensation.

Brief facts of the case

  • The appellant was accused of striking the victim with a sword below the knee on his right leg, leaving him nearly deformed as a result of the brutal blow.
  • The injured attempted to avoid the sickle hit by raising his right hand, but the blow struck his right arm below the elbow, causing it to become detached and gushing with blood. That if immediate medical attention had not been provided, the victim’s injuries would have ended in death.
  • The wounded tried to escape the sickle strike by lifting his right hand, but the blow impacted his right arm below the elbow, causing it to become detached and causing copious blood. That the cumulative impact of the victim’s injuries would have resulted in death if prompt medical care had not been provided.
  • There was a lot of blood, and if the sufferer hadn’t gotten medical help almost once, the cumulative impact of all of his injuries would have killed him. Nos. 1 and 4 were life-threatening injuries.
  • A compromise affidavit was filed in an appeal before the Supreme Court, in which the accused and the victim stated that they had settled their disputes amicably, that the families’ relations are now very cordial, that they are now closely related, that they have matrimonial relations with each other’s family, and that the incident occurred due to misunderstanding and on the spur of the moment.

Principle/observations

‘The statement of fact is completely superfluous in the mechanical form, and nothing elicits about the earlier relations, if any, or when such cordial relations or what kind of family relations later on have been developed, all such facts are very cordial and they are now closely related having matrimonial relations with each other’s family,’ the bench observed after reading the compromise affidavit.

  • The core of the criminal justice system is punishing the wrongdoer, but we can’t discover any legislative or judicially established criteria to assess the trial Court’s ability to meet out the appropriate penalty to the accused standing trial when he is found guilty of the accusations. Nonetheless, a review of this Court’s rulings reveals that while exercising discretion in sentencing, this Court considers a variety of criteria, including proportionality, deterrence, rehabilitation, and so on.
  • The compromise, if entered at a later stage of the incident or even after conviction, can indeed be one of the factors in influencing the sentence awarded to be commensurate with the nature of the offence being committed in order to avoid bitterness in the families of the accused and the victim, and it is always preferable to restore their relationship, if possible, but the compromise cannot be regarded as such.

Contentions of Respondent

The victim will be paralysed for the rest of his life. True, he uses a prosthetic arm and leg to carry out his everyday tasks, but he has lost all of his critical organs. The physicians who examined PW7 indicated unequivocally that death was a certain conclusion in the absence of prompt treatment. There is no cause to dispute the victim’s statement, which is backed up by the PW8.”

Judgment/Order

  • This was the major reason why, while sustaining the conviction under Section 326 IPC, the appellant was sentenced to 5 years of severe imprisonment and a monetary recompense to the victim of Rs. 2 lakhs under Section 357 CrPC.
  • The learned Chamber Judge denied the plea for exemption from surrendering in an order dated July 14, 2021.After then, on August 5, 2021, the appellant surrendered.
  • The court noted that the wounded victim in this instance has been crippled for life and is completing his daily tasks with a prosthetic arm and leg, as well as having lost essential organs 00and being permanently incapacitated.  In light of the totality of the facts and circumstances of the case, we are not inclined to give any benefit of the alleged compromise dated July 13, 2021 for interfering in the sentence imposed by the High Court in the impugned judgement, which at the very least does not require this Court’s intervention.
  •  As a consequence, the appeal has been dismissed.

My Opinion/conclusion

In my opinion such violence cannot be disregarded since it is a crime against society, not just the individual, and it must be dealt with sternly.

The type of compromise that has now been obtained and recorded after 28 years of the incident, this court cannot be oblivious to the victim’s sufferings for such a long time and being crippled for life, with the victim’s leg and arm amputated. In the claimed event on December 13, 1993, he has been battling for his life and is pursuing his daily duties with a prosthetic limb, has lost his essential organs of his body, and has become permanently crippled, and such act of the appellant is unforgivable,” the court stated in dismissing the appeal.

References

  1. https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2021/14956/14956_2021_44_1501_30173_Judgement_20-Sep-2021.pdf
  2. The Indian Evidence Act 1872.
  3. Indian Penal Code, 1860
  4. Section 149 In The Indian Penal Code .
  5. Section 326 in The Indian Penal Code.
  6. Section 307 in The Indian Penal Code .

Written by ; Shreya Kashyap (School of law, University of petroleum and energy studies )

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