New Delhi, Aug 28 :
Courts should shun adopting a liberal and sympathetic approach in awarding lesser sentences for offences against women as it defeats the purpose of deterrence and undermines public confidence in the dispensation of justice, the Supreme Court has said.
“Indisputably, imposition of sentence without considering its effect on the social order in many cases may be in reality a futile exercise,” said a bench of Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose in their judgment pronounced Tuesday but made available Thursday.
“We also reiterate that undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system to undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law,” said the bench.
“The court must not only keep in view the rights of the victim of the crime but also the society at large while considering the imposition of appropriate punishment.
“Meagre sentence imposed solely on account of lapse of time without considering the degree of the offence will be counter-productive in the long run and against the interest of the society,” said Justice Eqbal speaking for the bench.
“The social impact of the crime where it relates to offences against women involving moral turpitude or moral delinquency, which have great impact on social order and public interest, cannot be lost sight of and per se require exemplary treatment,” the court said.
The sentencing courts are expected to consider all relevant facts and circumstances bearing on the question of sentence and proceed to impose a sentence commensurate with the gravity of the offence, the court said, as it set aside an order of the Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court, reducing the sentence of a convict.
Th high court, while upholding the conviction of Bablu – charged with voluntarily causing hurt and assault on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty – reduced his sentence from six months to 21 days that he had already undergone on the grounds that he was a first time offender and lapse of time.
The apex court held that a “liberal attitude by imposing meagre sentences or taking sympathetic view merely on account of lapse of time in respect of such offences will be counter-productive in the long run and against societal interest which needs to be cared for and strengthened by string of deterrence inbuilt in the sentencing system”.
Restoring the sentence of six months, the apex court said that the high court had acted in a very casual manner and reduced the sentence to the period already undergone merely on the ground that the accused is a first offender.
“If such a view is taken, the accused, who commit such offence, will be emboldened and repeat such crime, which is totally detrimental to the society,” the apex court said.
“It is the duty of every court to award proper sentence having regard to the nature of the offence and the manner in which it was executed or committed,” it added.