New Delhi: Befitting punishment should be awarded by courts to the guilty so that "public abhorrence" of the offence committed is reflected, the Supreme Court has said.
"The question of awarding sentence is a matter of discretion to be exercised on consideration of circumstances aggravating and mitigating in the individual cases. Law courts have been consistent in the approach that a reasonable proportion has to be maintained between the seriousness of the crime and the punishment.
"While it is true that sentence disproportionately severe should not be passed that does not clothe the court with an option to award the sentence manifestly inadequate. Justice demands that courts should impose punishment befitting the crime so that the courts reflect public abhorrence of the crime," a bench comprising justices T S Thakur and R Banumathi said.
The observations came while hearing an appeal filed by Haryana native Ravinder Singh who had approached the apex court against Punjab and Haryana High Court judgement by which it had reduced the sentence imposed on six persons who had assaulted his father.
According to the prosecution, on August 4, 1993, while Sher Singh was returning home from bus station of his village Devsar with his elder brother Duli Chand, six persons-- Pyare Lal, Ramesh, Surender, Raj Kumar, Manphool and Narender-- assaulted Duli Chand with sticks due to which he sustained grievous injuries.
Later, Duli was taken to general Hospital in Bhiwani where he slipped in coma and succumbed to injuries on August 9, 1993.
The trial court had convicted all the six persons under
Section 304 Part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of IPC and sentenced them to seven years rigorous imprisonment.
Aggrieved by the judgment, the accused approached High Court which reduced the sentence of imprisonment to the period already undergone by each of them and also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 each.
The apex court, which refused to interfere with High Court's decision, enhanced the compensation to the family and directed them to pay Rs 1,25,000 each along with additional fine of Rs 1 lakh each.
"As far as the award of compensation is concerned, particularly in the case of homicidal death, monetary benefits cannot be equated with the life of a person and the society?s cry for justice. Object is just to mitigate hardship that is caused to the deceased," the bench said.