The object of any criminal jurisprudence is reformative in character and to take care of the victim. It is towards this objective that Section 357 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is enacted in the statute. The objective of which is to apply whole or any part of the fine recovered to be applied on payment to any person of compensation for any loss or injury caused by the offence. The same was held by Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Samaul SK. Vs. State of Jharkhand & Anr. [Criminal Appeal No. 894 of 2021].
In the present case, it is one of voluntarily offering the amount albeit to seek a reduction of sentence. The facts of the case are that Hena Bibi, the respondent-2/complainant, claimed to be the appellant’s legally married wife, claiming that their marriage was legitimated on 8.2.2000 according to Muslim customs and rituals. The appellant was previously married to Mastra Bibi, and he had an alleged extramarital affair with Hena Bibi, which resulted in their marriage. The two parties are said to have been married for about a year and a half and have two children as a result of their marriage.
The Court of Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate (for short ‘SDJM’) in Pakur, Punjab, has passed a verdict in favour of the first wife of respondent No.2 and against her second husband on grounds of torture and demands of dowry. During the course of the alleged demand for dowry, the respondent-2 conceived for the second time. The case went to trial, and according to the verdict of the SDJM, Pakur, the appellant was found guilty and sentenced to three years of rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs.10,000/-, plus a six-month additional punishment if the amount was not paid. The appellant filed Criminal Appeal against the SDJM’s ruling, which was dismissed by the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Pakur. Following that, the appellant filed a Special Leave Petition (abbreviated as “SLP”) in the Supreme Court.
During the SLP hearing, the petitioner/appellant requested an extension of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, which was denied on July 26, 2021. The Supreme Court stated that it was open to the possibility of a sentence reduction if the petitioner provided adequate compensation to respondent No.2 for herself and her children in addition to whatever maintenance was being paid under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The appellant stated that he was willing to pay compensation of Rs.3.00 lakhs to respondent No.2 for herself and the children, and that he needed around six months to raise the money. Because respondent No.2 failed to appear despite serving, skilled counsel for the State was asked to verify respondent No.2’s position on which she agreed.
The Supreme court held that, “if the petitioner/appellant is showing remorse and is willing to make arrangements for respondent No.2 and his two children born out of the wedlock, we would not like to come in the way of such an arrangement, which should be beneficial to respondent No.2 and her children”. The court also held that the above-mentioned amount of Rs.3.00 lakh shall be apart from the requirement of paying fine of Rs.10,000/- directed by the trial court. However, the court made it clear that if the amounts are not deposited, the appellant will have to undergo the remaining part of the sentence of 3 years.
Judgment Reviewed by Meenakshi Jena