Prayer for suspension of sentence pending appeal should be considered liberally unless there is any statutory restriction: The High Court of Manipur

Where an appeal is preferred against conviction and the sentence imposed under Section 376 IPC in the High Court, the High Court has ample power and discretion to suspend the sentence. That discretion has to be exercised judiciously depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The aforementioned has been established by the Manipur high Court in the case of Shri Konsam Poirei v. The State of Manipur [MC (Cril.Appeal) No.10 of 2019] which was decided by a single judge bench comprising Justice M.V. Muralidaran on 21st June 2021.

The facts of the case are as follows. The application had been filed by the petitioner for the suspension of the sentenced awarded to him by the Additional Session’s Judge for offences punishable under Sections 417 and 376 IPC. The prosecutrix lodged a written report on 20.9.2009 stating that she eloped with the petitioner-appellant on 17.09.2009 to be his wife, as the petitioner-appellant posed himself to be a divorce having no wife and children. Later on, it was learnt that the petitioner-appellant had legally wedded wife and children, and the petitioner-appellant had coaxed her to have sexual intercourse and thereby committed rape. On the basis of the above written report, the Officer-in-charge of SJM police station, registered an FIR bearing No. 185(9)2009 under Sections 376/417 IPC against the petitioner-appellant. The learned counsel for the petitioner-appellant has submitted that the trial Court has grossly erred in convicting and sentencing the petitioner-appellant for the offences punishable under Sections 417 and 376 of IPC. He contended that the trial court committed serious lapse in the investigation and that everything was done with the consent of the prosecutrix. 

The court conducted an extensive analysis of the facts and circumstances of the instant case. It relied on the judgment given in the case of Bhagwan Rama Shinde Gosai and others v. State of Gujarat, (1999) 4 SCC 421 which stated that “the sentence can be suspended in a case where there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty of the offence for which he is convicted and he is not likely to commit any offence during the period of suspension of sentence.”  And hence the exact words while delivering the verdict, as quoted by the court were, “In the light of the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Bhagwan Rama Shinde Gosai (supra), and the fact that the present appeal would take substantial time to come up for final hearing, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the appeal, this Court is Inclined to suspend the sentence imposed on the appellant, subject to stringent condition”

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