Sympathetic view can be taken against the accused to reduce the sentence even in serious non compoundable offences: Supreme Court of India

A sympathetic view was taken in this case to reconsider the quantum of sentences awarded to the appellants by inspiring the victim’s confidence that the apology has voluntarily been accepted given the efflux of time and owing to the maturity brought about by age. This was held in the case of Murali v State represented by the Inspector of Police, [Criminal Appeal No.24/2021], by Hon’ble Justice Surya Kant in the Supreme Court of India.

The two original accused in the case cornered the victim and assaulted him by striking him on his head with a hockey stick and tried to kill him by giving a neck blow with a sharp edged object. The act was blocked by the victim which led to the severance of the victim’s thumb and finger of the right hand. The victim managed to escape and the matter was reported by his friend. The trial court opinioned that there existed a clear intention to murder the victim and if not for the victim defending himself, a fatal injury would have been caused to his neck  and would have died instantaneously. A concurrent sentence of three   months’   rigorous imprisonment        under Section 324 IPC and one month rigorous imprisonment under Section 341 IPC was imposed on the both the accused. The High Court upheld the conviction.

The counsel for the appellants submitted that the parties have on the advice of their elders entered into an amicable settlement. The appellants have admitted their fault, taken responsibility for their actions, and have maturely sought forgiveness from the victim. In turn, the victim has benevolently acknowledged the apology and considering the young age of the appellant at the time of has forgiven the appellants and settled the dispute. Reliance was placed on the case of Ram Pujan v. State of UP [(1973) 2 SCC 456], where it was held that the major offence for which the appellants have been convicted is no doubt a non compoundable offence, but the fact of compromise can be taken into account in determining the quantum of sentence.

The Court observed that “In our considered opinion, it would  not be appropriate to order compounding of an offence not compoundable under the code, ignoring and keeping aside statutory provisions. In our judgment, however, the factum of compromise between the parties is indeed a relevant circumstance which the court may keep in mind. There is no question of the settlement being as a result of any coercion or inducement. Considering the parties are on friendly terms now and they inhabit the same society, this is a fit case for reduction of sentence.

The sentence of both the accused was reduced to the period already undergone by them, setting them free and discharging their bail bonds.

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