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Samual Sk Vs State Of Jharkhand And Another:SC Reduces Jail Time Of A Convict Sentenced U/S 498A Of IPC On Condition Of Payment Of Compensation Towards His Wife And Children

Prahalad B ,
  07 September 2021       Share Bookmark

Court :
The Supreme Court of India
Brief :
The Supreme Court took a reformative approach by allowing the plea of the convict, who made a voluntary offer of paying compensation to the victims for a reduced time in jail.
Citation :
Criminal Appeal No. 894 of 2021

Date of judgement:
31 August 2021

Bench:
Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul
Justice Hrishikesh Roy

Parties:
Appellant – Samual SK
Respondent – The State of Jharkhand and Another

Subject

The Supreme Court took a reformative approach by allowing the plea of the convict, who made a voluntary offer of paying compensation to the victims for a reduced time in jail.

Legal Provisions

  • Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code – Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be pun­ished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
  • Section 125(1)(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure – If any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain his wife, unable to maintain herself, a Magistrate of the first class may, upon proof of such neglect or refusal, order such person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his wife or such child at such monthly rate as such Magistrate thinks fit and to pay the same to such person as the Magistrate may from time to time direct.

Overview

  • The 2nd Respondent herein claims to be the legally married wife of the appellant and the marriage having been solemnized according to Muslim rituals and customs on 08.02.2020.
  • The fact was that the Appellant was already married to one Mastra Bibi and the 2nd marriage was the result of an illicit relationship with the 2nd Respondent. Two children were born out of the wedlock between the parties.
  • The 2nd Respondent herein alleged that on instigation from the appellant’s first wife, the appellant started harassing the 2nd Respondent mentally and physically demanding dowry. As a result of this harassment, the 2nd Respondent took sanctuary in her parent’s home. During this period the 2nd Respondent conceived for the second time.
  • This dispute between the Appellant and Respondent resulted in a case being lodged and heard before the Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM), Pakur bearing suit number PCR No. 310 of 2016 for offences under Section 498A of IPC.
  • In the Order dated 30.01.2014 the SDJM, Pakur held the appellant guilty and was sentenced to three years of rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 10,000/- and if the fine was not paid, the appellant was directed to undergo further imprisonment of six months.
  • The Appellant preferred a criminal appeal against the judgement of SDJM which was dismissed by Principal District and Sessions Judge, Pakur vide order dated 02.09.2014.
  • Thereafter, the Appellant preferred a criminal revision against the said order, bearing number CRP No. 1060/2014 which was again dismissed. Thereafter, the appellant preferred a Special Leave Petition before this court.
  • In the course of hearing this case, the Appellant prayed for extension of benefit under the Probation of Offenders Act,1958 which was declined.
  • However, the Court expressed that it is open to consider a reduction of sentence with a condition that the appellant must provide adequate compensation to 2nd Respondent and her children along with the maintenance to be paid under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • During the proceedings, the Counsel for Appellant submitted that the appellant is willing to pay compensation of Rs.3,00,000/- to the 2nd Respondent and children and requested six months for raising the money. The Respondent agreed to the same and had no objection.
  • The Court felt that the appellant’s willingness to pay compensation indicates appellant’s remorse and regret towards the entire incident, which would benefit the respondent, hence it does not feel the need to interfere in this arrangement.
  • The court iterated that the criminal jurisprudence has moved to a reformative approach of punishments and the idea of the same has been incorporated in many sections of the CrPC. Hence, we must move towards rehabilitation and increase focus on the victims.
  • With the above direction, the appeal was allowed to the aforesaid extent and disposed.

Judgement Analysis

  • The judgement of the Supreme Court exhibits its intent to move towards a much more reformative approach towards punishments and indemnification of damages.
  • Hon’ble Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul recapitulated the same by stating in the judgement that “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’’.
  • Although it is interesting to note that Section 8(2) of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1956 states that every offence under this Act shall be non-bailable and non-compoundable. However, courts in various cases have reiterated many times that court can allow compounding of an offence even in a non-compoundable case if the crime is not heinous and affect the public at large and the case is still pending.
  • This court’s judgement is in consonance with Manohar Singh V. State of Madhya Pradesh (2014) in Cr.A.No. 748/2000 wherein the Supreme Court held that “Section 498-Aof the IPC is non-compoundable.Section 4of theDowryAct is also non-compoundable. It is not necessary to state that non-compoundable offences cannot becompoundedby a Court” and further went to state that “if there is a genuine compromise between husband and wife, criminal complaints arising out of matrimonial discord can be quashed, even if the offences alleged therein are non-compoundable, because such offences are personal in nature and do not have repercussions on the society unlike heinous offences like murder, rape etc.”

Conclusion

While crimes involving issues like dowry are detrimental to a modern progressive society, it is expedient to deliver justice and to remove any abuse of process of the court. It is also clear as a society we have moved from a deterrent approach to a reformative approach to secure justice and protection for the victims.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul has rightly pointed out in the judgement regarding Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which states that the fines recovered from the convict shall be applied to cover the victim, that with the offence being allowed to be compounded, the victim shall avail a speedy and effective compensation.

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

 
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