Courts Update Supreme Court allows reduction of sentence of dowry accused...

Supreme Court allows reduction of sentence of dowry accused on payment of compensation for his children born out of wedlock, their mother

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New Delhi Sept 1(ILNS): The Supreme Court reiterated that the object of any criminal jurisprudence is reformative in character and to take care of the victim while allowing an application filed by a man seeking reduction of sentence of three years of rigorous imprisonment for an offense punishable under Section 498A IPC. 

A bench comprising of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy has further stated, “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 offense.”

“In the present case, it is one of voluntarily offering the amount albeit to seek a reduction of sentence,” the Court noted. 

In the present case, the Court had previously declined to give the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act to the appellant. However, the Court had said, if the petitioner/appellant shows remorse and is willing to make arrangements for the respondent no 2/his legally married wife and her two children out of the wedlock, then it will not come in a way of such agreement, which should be beneficial to respondent no 2 and her children. 

Background:

Respondent no. 2/Hena Bibi claimed to be legally married wife of the appellant and their marriage was solemnized on February 8, 2000, as per Muslim customs & rites. According to the facts of the case, the appellant was already married to one Mastra Bibi and he apparently had an illicit relationship with respondent No.2, which culminated in their marriage. The two parties are stated to have lived as husband and wife in the house of the appellant for about a year and a half and two children were born out of the said marriage. It was alleged by the respondent that the appellant on the instigation of first wife the appellant started mental and physical torture and made demands of dowry which had forced her to go back to her parent’s house. Later the appellant was held guilty for offenses under Section 498A IPC and sentenced to three years of rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 10,000/- by the SDJM Pakur. He preferred a criminal appeal against the judgment which was dismissed by Principal District and Sessions Judge, Pakur. Thereafter, he preferred Criminal Revision which was dismissed too, against which he had filed an SLP. 

Arguments Raised 

In the course of the hearing, the appellant prayed for an extension of the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, which was declined by the Court on July 26, 2021. However, the Court expressed the view that it was not averse to consideration of reduction of the sentence subject to the condition that the petitioner gave adequate compensation to respondent No.2 for herself and her children apart from whatever maintenance was being paid under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. 

Later, the Counsel for the petitioner on August 9, 2021, submitted that he was willing to pay compensation of Rs 3.00 lakhs to respondent No 2 for herself and the children and requested for about six months time to raise the money. 

The counsel for the police submitted that authorities have verified from respondent No 2 and she was agreeable to receive the compensation of Rs 3.00 lakhs. Further, on compensation being paid, she had agreed that if the sentence of the appellant is reduced and/or if he is granted the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act, she has no objection. 

Observation of the Court:

The Court observed 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, it would not come in the way of such an arrangement, which should be beneficial to respondent No.2 and her children.

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, it said. 

Directions 

In view of the submission made by the petitioner on August 9, 2021, requesting for six months’ time to make arrangement to deposit/pay the amount, the Court directed that the appellant shall deposit with the trial court an amount of Rs.3.00 lakh on or before February 28, 2022, and subject to the deposit, the period of sentence undergone shall be treated as the sentence period. 

Further, the Apex Court directed that on the deposit of the amount, the trial court will take steps to release an amount of Rs.2.00 lakhs out of Rs.3.00 lakhs to respondent No.2 for herself and for her children. An amount of Rs.50,000/- each out of the remaining amount, would be kept in an FDR with a nationalized bank for the benefit of the children which will be released to them with accrued interest on attaining the age of 21 years.

The above-mentioned amount of Rs.3.00 lakh shall be apart from the requirement of paying a fine of Rs.10,000/- directed by the trial court, the Court said. 

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./ILNS/KR/SNG

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