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A 25-year-old man held guilty of drunken driving has been spared a jail term by a Delhi court which said ‘forgiveness is the best punishment’ and told him to undertake social service for two months starting Sunday.

Sandeep Kumar, an employee of a private firm who hails from Buana Lakhu village in Haryana’s Panipat district, also assured the court of good behaviour during the next one year.

Additional Session Judge (ASJ) Virender Bhat Friday accepted his appeal and released him on probation after setting aside the 17-day jail sentence given to him by another court.

‘I allow the appeal of Kumar and set aside his 17-day sentence of imprisonment awarded by the metropolitan magistrate,’ the ASJ said.

‘Kumar is directed to involve himself in some social or religious service,’ said the court.

Setting aside the magistrate’s order, ASJ Bhat said: ‘The sentencing policy followed in India is based upon reformative theory and not on retributive theory.’

‘The purpose of sentence is and should be to reform a criminal so as to convert him into a law-abiding citizen. It is seen that the sentence of imprisonment, sometimes hardens the first-time offender and instead of reforming him, makes him a hardened criminal,’ the ASJ said.

‘While dealing with petty cases such as the present one, wherever it is felt necessary, the principle contained in almost all the religious scriptures that ‘forgiveness is the best punishment’ should be invoked. Doesn’t each religion teach us forgiveness and compassion,’ he said.

‘Kumar is released on probation subject to furnishing a personal bond with one surety to be of good behaviour for a period of one year from today (Friday),’ the ASJ said.

‘He shall also perform service towards devotees at Adya Katyayani Shakti Peeth Mandir, Chhatarpur, Mehrauli, on each Friday from 5-8 p.m. and on each Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. hereafter for a period of two months starting from Sunday,’ said the court.

Sandeep Kumar said in his plea that a jail term would adversely affect his career.

‘The appellant has learnt enough lesson from the prosecution and trial of this case and has vowed not to repeat this offence again,’ said his counsel.

The ASJ accepted the plea and said: ‘He is a 25-year-old young man in private service and the father of an eight-month-old daughter. Imprisonment at this stage would not only hamper his future prospects but would also put an indelible blot on his career.’

Sandeep Kumar appealed against the magistrate’s order delivered Feb 14 sentencing him to 17-days imprisonment along with a fine of Rs.1,100 for drunken driving a day earlier in Dwarka area of west Delhi.

He was also disqualified from driving any vehicle for a period of six months.

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