-Report by Sejal Jethva
In the case of Shiva Kumar v. State of Karnataka, the IPC’s Section 302 was used to punish the offence. A portion of the appeal is upheld.
The appellant was a 22-year-old man. He emphasized the appellant’s young wife, young child, and elderly parents. He also has no priors and doesn’t pose a threat to society. Also, he has displayed consistently good behaviour while incarcerated, and he even finished a B.A. degree course while incarcerated. Last but not least, he emphasised that the appellant had served roughly seventeen years and two months of his sentence.
The Indian Criminal Code, 1860 (often referred to as the “IPC”) punishes the appellant for offences that fall within Sections 366, 376, and 302. The penalty for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC is the only issue under dispute. The appellant was given a life sentence of harsh imprisonment by the learned Sessions Judge (Fast Track Court). To contest the verdict and sentence, the appellant chose to appeal to the High Court. The appeal for a longer sentence was preferred by the State Government. By the contested judgment, the High Court dismissed both appeals. This Court merely gave notice of sentences on April 21, 2017.
Knowing the law established by the Constitution Bench of this Court in the case of Union of India v. V. Sriharan alias Murugan & Ors.1, the learned solicitor representing the appellant-accused argued that only the Constitutional Courts, not the Sessions Courts, have the authority to impose a modified sentence. He argued that the Constitutional Courts can only commute an accused person’s death sentence if they also grant a life sentence, whether it be for all eternity or for a set amount of time. The courts have no authority to impose a different punishment if the death penalty is not applied. Additionally, he cited the court’s ruling in Swami Shraddananda alias Murali Manohar Mishra v. State of Karnataka.
Even though the death penalty has not been imposed, the learned attorney representing the respondent-State contends that the Constitutional Courts are not helpless to impose modified sentences taking into account the seriousness of the offence, the behaviour of the accused, and other pertinent factors. He argued that the Constitutional Courts’ authority to provide a modified sentence could not be curtailed by claiming that they can only do so when the issue is whether to commute a death sentence. He argued that the most severe sentence was considered in this case’s facts by citing the Trial Court and High Court’s rulings. In any event, he argued, by imposing a sentence that would last the remainder of the appellant’s life, the High Court had, after taking into account all the relevant factual circumstances, reiterated the Sessions Court’s position.
1. The facts are such that they will shock any court’s conscience. The deceased woman, who was happily married, worked for a reputable corporation with an office in Bengaluru’s Electronic City. She had to work till late at night or even early in the morning due to the nature of her job. Her transportation was previously provided by the employer in the form of a car. The business used to give staff automobiles to drive on various predetermined routes. The dead departed the workplace that fateful day at 2:00 a.m. in a car provided by the business. She previously rode in a car that travelled Route 131. She was told by the appellant, the driver, that day that the vehicle used for route 131 was not available. She was informed by the appellant that she would have to use his vehicle, which is on Route 405 to get there. Therefore, the deceased sat down in the car that the accused was operating. The deceased’s maternal uncle filed a complaint and claimed that the person was missing. Finally, at the appellant’s request, her deceased body was found. The deceased’s clothing, shoes, and other personal effects were discovered close to the body. The charge of both the offence under Section 366 of the IPC and the offence under Section 376 of the IPC was successfully established by the prosecution. Additionally, the appellant-accused was found guilty of the crime under Section 302. The victim, who was 28 years old, had his life brutally taken from him.
2. In light of this, we change the Trial Court’s original sentence for the offence covered by Section 302 of the IPC. We order that the appellant be sentenced to life in prison. Additionally, we order that the appellant not be freed until he has served his full 30-year sentence. The appeal is partially upheld to the extent stated above.
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