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At the time time of pronouncing punishment, the courts should keep in mind the doctrine of proportionality: Allahabad High Court

The criminal jurisprudence of our country is reformative and corrective and not retributive and this court considers that every accused is capable of being reformed and all measures should be taken to give them an opportunity of reformation to bring them into the social stream. Such an observation was made by the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court before Hon’ble Justice  Dr. Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Hon’ble justice Ajai Tyagi in the matter of Rajiv @ Paji vs the State of U.P. [CRIMINAL APPEAL No. – 2436 of 2013].

The facts of the case were that Rajiv @ Paji was convicted under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 by the trial court and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 20,000/- In the present appeal the conviction of the appellant was not challenged rather it was the contention of the appellant that the sentence pronounced was too harsh.

The Hon’ble High Court stated that since the present appeal is not based on the merits of conviction, but, they consider that the appeal would be devoid of any merit on the perusal of the evidence of the case and thus the conviction of the accused is upheld. Further, the Hon’ble High Court observed that the reformative theory of punishment is to be adopted and for that reason, it is necessary to impose punishment keeping in view the ‘doctrine of proportionality. Upon considering the above-stated theory it seems the sentence awarded was harsh considering the facts and circumstances of the case and the gravity of offence. The Hon’ble High Court further referred to the case of Mohd. Giasuddin Vs. The state of AP, [AIR 1977 SC 1926] in which the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that “Crime is a pathological aberration. The criminal can ordinarily be redeemed and the state has to rehabilitate rather than avenge. The sub-culture that leads to anti-social behavior has to be countered not by undue cruelty but by reculturization. Therefore, the focus of interest in penology is the individual, and the goal is salvaging him for society. The infliction of harsh and savage punishment is thus a relic of past and regressive times. The human today vies sentencing as a process of reshaping a person who has deteriorated into criminality and the modern community has a primary stake in the rehabilitation of the offender as a means of social defense. Hence a therapeutic, rather than an ‘in terrorem’ outlook should prevail in our criminal courts since brutal incarceration of the person merely produces laceration of his mind. If you are to punish a man retributively, you must injure him. If you are to reform him, you must improve him and, men are not improved by injuries.” 

Finally, the Hon’ble High Court allowed the appeal and stated “Since the appellant has already served 9 years of sentence and ends of justice would be met if the sentence is reduced from life imprisonment to the period of ten years. Hence, the sentence awarded to the appellant by the learned trial court is modified and is reduced to ten years of rigorous imprisonment. Imposition of fine and additional imprisonment in case of default of fine shall remain intact. Rs.15,000/- shall be paid as compensation to the victim out of the fine imposed as directed by learned Trial Court.” 

Click here to read the judgment.

Judgment Reviewed by: Rohan Kumar Thakur

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