The Quantum of punishment depends on the circumstances of each case, no straight jacket way to determine punishment: Supreme Court of India

The quantum of sentence, all depends on background facts of the case, antecedents of the accused, whether the assault was premeditated and pre-planned or not, etc. There are no straight jacket formulae for the determination of the same in law. Such an observation was made by the Hon’ble Supreme Court before Hon’ble Justice R. Subhash Reddy & Hon’ble Justice Hrishikesh Roy in the matter of Govindan vs State represented by The Deputy Superintendent of Police [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1665 OF 2021].

The facts that gave rise to the instant appeal were that there was a civil dispute between the complaints and accused relating to a pathway that led to the land of the complainant from the land of the accused. In context, a civil suit was filed by the accused in which an injunction order was passed against the complainants which they violated and had undergone 30 days of civil prison for not abiding by the order. On the day of the incident, there was a quarrel between lady members of the families in which the family members of the accused were hurt, and the accused acted in self-defense and used a knife which resulted in the death of the deceased. The trial court by appreciating oral and documentary evidence on record has recorded a finding that the complainant’s family members were the aggressors and they have tried to disturb the peaceful possession of the accused. The Trial Court also found that the appellant stabbed the deceased, Kamsala with a knife, but there was no premeditation or pre-planning and it was a sudden quarrel and the appellant exercised his right of private defense, but exceeded the limit. The High Court also dismissed the appeal of the accused. Aggrieved the accused preferred the present appeal.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the Trial Court itself has found that there was a quarrel in front of the house of the accused by the complainant’s family members on the date of the incident. It is also clear from the evidence on record that on the day of occurrence of the incident the dispute was only on account of cart track from the land of the accused to reach the land of the complainant. There was no premeditation or preplanning and it was a sudden quarrel, where the appellant exercised his right of private defense, exceeded the limits.

Additionally, the Hon’ble Supreme Court referred to the case of Lakshmi Chand and Anr. v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2018) 9 SCC 704 & Madhavan and Ors. v. State of Tamil Nadu (2017) 15 SCC 582 wherein this court reduced the sentence on account that the occurrence of the incident had taken place on spur of the moment without any premeditation.

Furthermore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the findings of the trial court that the de facto complainants were the aggressors and they have tried to disturb the peaceful possession of the accused from their land were never challenged or questioned by the state or the complainants and therefore it became final. Having this in mind this is a fit case to modify the sentence, to meet the ends of justice. 

Finally, the Hon’ble Supreme Court partly allowed the instant appeal and modified the sentence to two years’ rigorous imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.5,000/-, in default to undergo three (03) months’ rigorous imprisonment.

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Judgment Reviewed by: Rohan Kumar Thakur

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