DATE OF JUDGEMENT
13th November, 2021
Justice Dinesh Maheshwari
Justice Vikram Nath
Appellant- Gurjant Singh
Respondent- The State of Punjab
The expression “infructuous” used here means ineffective or unproductive. An appeal of conviction cannot be said to be infructuous just because the appellant has served his sentence.
-Section 18 of The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 lays down punishment for contravention in relation to cultivation opium poppy and opium.
The appellant had filed a regular criminal Appeal which was dismissed by The Punjab & Haryana High Court.
This took place due to the fact that no one appeared to represent the appellant in the court, so the court accepted the submission of the state counsel that the appeal is rendered infructuous because the appellant had served out his sentence.
The appellant was convicted under Section 18 of The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 and was awarded the sentence of 5 months imprisonment and fine of Rs.3,000/-. The appellant contended that an appeal against conviction could not have been treated as infructuous merely for the reason that the convicted appellant had served out the sentence awarded by the Trial Court.
Furthermore, it was contended that even at the initial stage it was made clear by the appellant before the court that even though the appellant had undergone the sentence of imprisonment and had deposited the fine imposed but, he was still trying to get his conviction overturned.
Whether the appeal can be treated as infructuous if the appellant has already served out the sentence?
The court agreed with the contentions of appellant and observed that though the counsel for the respondent attempted to defend the appellant's conviction and sentence, he was unable to dispute the position that simply because of execution of the sentence, an appeal against conviction cannot be treated as infructuous.
The court further added that the HC was hearing an appeal against conviction and could have taken necessary steps for representation on behalf of the appellant if nobody was present for any reason, but the appeal could not have been dismissed as infructuous in any case.
Therefore, the court set aside the High Court order and restored the appeal to its number for considerations on merits. The High Court was requested to afford an adequate opportunity of hearing to the parties before taking final decision on the matter.
In conclusion, it is seen that the Apex Court observed that just because a convicted appellant has served out his sentence, any appeal against the conviction cannot be treated as infructuous and also cannot be dismissed for the same reason. The HC should have kept in mind the circumstances as to why the appellant was not able to appear and be represented. The order passes by the HC implied the confirmation of the conviction of the appellant.
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