“A tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye” cannot be the criteria for handing down punishment to convicts in a civilised society, the Delhi High Court has said while setting free a former DU student who has already undergone jail term of over 16 years in two murder cases.
Jitender, a former Delhi University student, who was awarded 30 years jail term by a trial court in a murder case, was directed by the court to remain in prison for the rest of his life in another murder case.
It was clarified by the lower court that the jail term till death would commence on conclusion of the 30-year-term awarded to the convict, now aged 42.
Referring to the “doctrine of proportionality”, a bench of Justices G S Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said that it has a “valuable application to the sentencing policy under the Indian criminal jurisprudence”.
“We believe that being a civilised society — a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye ought not to be the criterion and as such the question of there being acting under any haste in regard to the life imprisonment would not arise; Rather our jurisprudence speaks of the factum of the law courts being slow in that direction and it is in that perspective a reasonable proportion has to be maintained between the heinousness of the crime and the punishment.
“While it is true, punishment disproportionately severe ought not to be passed but that does not even clothe the law courts, however, with an opinion to award the sentence which would be manifestly inadequate having due regard to the nature of offence since an inadequate sentence would not subserve the cause of justice to the society,” the bench, in its 38-page judgement, said.
Modifying the sentence handed down to Jitender, the bench said that sentence was “in excess of the requirement of the situation” and the “trial court in this case has acted in utter haste by passing the order on sentence on the same day with a pre-determined mind”.
The trial court has shown “utter impatience” and “also incorrectly applied the law”, the high court said while awarding the sentence of 16 years and 10 months on the convict, the period already undergone and ordered his release if he is not wanted in any third case.
( Source – PTI )