New Delhi: Fine amounts imposed on convicts should not be excessive but decided keeping in view their financial condition, the magnitude of offence and other relevant considerations, the Supreme Court has ruled.
"In such circumstance, we are of the view that it is the duty of the court to keep in view the nature of offence, circumstances in which it was committed, the position of the offender and other relevant considerations such as pecuniary circumstances of the accused person as to character and magnitude of the offence before ordering the offender to suffer imprisonment in default of payment of fine.
"The provisions of Sections 63 to 70 of IPC make it clear that an amount of fine should not be harsh or excessive. We also reiterate that where a substantial term of imprisonment is inflicted, an excessive excessive fine should not be imposed except in exceptional cases," Justice Sathasivam writing the judgement said.
The bench also comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi passed the ruling while reducing to 10 years from 15 years; and altering to six months the default sentence as against three years RI imposed on Shahejadkhan Mahebubkhan Pathan and Narendrasinh Chandrashekhar Rai by a Gujarat Sessions court in a narcotics case.
The trial court while awarding 15 years RI for the duo had also imposed a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh each on the conviction, in default of which they were ordered to undergo further three years RI.
The Gujarat High Court dismissed the appeal filed by the two, following which they appealed in the apex court.
The apex court taking a sympathetic view of the two convicts noted that they were first time offenders having no past antecedent about their involvement in offence of like nature. Besides they have already undergone 12 years imprisonment and so it reduced their sentence to 10 years.