Harsh Sentence

Duty of courts to impose appropriate sentence

Some criminals get very harsh sentences while many receive grossly different sentence for an essentially equivalent crime and a shockingly large number even go unpunished thereby encourage the criminal and in the ultimate making, justice suffer by weakening the system’s credibility.
In imposing sentences in the absence of specific legislation, Judges must consider variety of factors and after considering all those factors and taking an overall view of the situation, impose sentence which they consider to be an appropriate one. Aggravating factors cannot be ignored and similarly mitigating circumstances have also to be taken into consideration. The measure of punishment in a given case must depend upon the atrocity of the crime; the conduct of the criminal and the defenceless and unprotected state of the victim. Imposition of appropriate punishment is the manner in which the courts respond to the society’s cry for justice against the criminal. Justice demands that courts should impose punishment befitting the crime so that the courts reflect public abhorrence of the crime. The courts must not only keep in view the rights of the criminal but also the rights of the victim of crime and the society at large while considering imposition of appropriate punishment. [Dhananjoy Chatterjee @ Dhana versus State of West Bengal, 1994 (2) SCC 220: 1994 SCR (1) 37]

The problem is that these observations are read and used to give harsh sentences and not for reduced or liberal sentences. For offence of causing one slap or 20 slaps, the sentence is same as there is no guideline in India unlike other countries.

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