New Delhi: The Supreme Court has expressed displeasure over various cases being filed before it due to "insufficient or wrong sentencing" by lower courts despite it repeatedly cautioning against dealing with the aspect of punishment in a "cavalier manner".
The apex court said sentencing should not be taken for granted as this part of the criminal justice system has a determinative impact on the society.
The observations were made by a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana in its verdict on an appeal filed by Madhya Pradesh. The state had challenged a Madhya Pradesh High Court judgement which had reduced the three-year jail term awarded to four persons by a trial court to the period they had already served in prison.
"We are of the opinion that a large number of cases are being filed before this court due to insufficient or wrong sentencing undertaken by the courts below. We have time and again cautioned against the cavalier manner in which sentencing is dealt in certain cases," the bench, also comprising justices M M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi, said.
"There is no gainsaying that the aspect of sentencing should not be taken for granted, as this part of criminal justice system has determinative impact on the society. In light of the same, we are of the opinion that we need to provide further clarity on the same," it said.
Modifying the high court's judgement, the Supreme Court sentenced three convicts to three months imprisonment and also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on them.
The bench sentenced the fourth convict, who is presently aged around 80, to two months imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 65,000 on him.
According to the complaint, on April 15, 2008, these four people barged into the complainant's house with weapons and attacked him over not keeping his cow tied up.
The complainant had alleged that the accused had threatened to kill him if he did not tie his cow.
The trial court had convicted the four persons for offences under section 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) read with section 34 (common intention), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint) of the Indian Penal Code.
It had sentenced them to three years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 500 on each of them.
The convicts had thereafter filed an appeal before the Madhya Pradesh High Court challenging the trial court verdict.
The high court had allowed the appeal and reduced their sentence to the period of imprisonment already undergone by them, which was only four days, and enhanced the fine to Rs 1,500 each.
The state then moved the top court challenging the high court verdict.
In its judgement, the apex court said the sentencing for crimes has to be analysed on three touchstones -- crime test, criminal test, and comparative proportionality test.
The crime test involves several factors, including extent of planning, choice of weapon, modus of crime, role of the accused and state of victim, it said.
Referring to the facts of the case, the bench noted that four persons were injured in the attack and the "motivation seems to be that the cow belonging to the victims had entered the household of the accused".
The apex court directed that the convicts be taken into custody forthwith to serve their remaining sentences.