New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that those convicted of heinous crime could not be allowed to wipe off the consequence of crime merely because they have struck a settlement with the victim as their act was a crime against society, not just against an individual.
“Criminal law is designed as a mechanism for achieving social control and its purpose is the regulation of conduct and activities within the society,” said a bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnann and Justice A.K.Sikri in a recent judgment.
“Criminal justice system has a larger objective to achieve, that is safety and protection of the people at large and it would be a lesson not only to the offender, but to the individuals at large so that such crimes would not be committed by any one and money would not be a substitute for the crime committed against the society,” said Justice Radhakrishnan speaking for the bench.
The court said that taking a lenient view on a serious offence “will leave a wrong impression about the criminal justice system and will encourage further criminal acts,which will endanger the peaceful co-existence and welfare of the society at large”.
The court said this while upturning a Nov 16, 2011 verdict of the Rajasthan High Court, by which it accepted a compromise between the accused and the victims after later were compensated.
The high court had said: “The assault was more a crime against an individual than against the society at large. Admittedly, both the parties have entered into a compromise. They have resolved their differences. Thus, it would be in the interest of justice to allow the appeal.”
Taking a dim view of the high court verdict, the apex court said: “We are not prepared to say that the crime alleged to have been committed by the accused persons was a crime against an individual, on the other hand it was a crime against the society at large.”
“Why Section 307 IPC is held to be non-compoundable… because the Code has identified which conduct should be brought within the ambit of non-compoundable offences. Such provisions are not meant, just to protect the individual, but the society as a whole.
Faulting the high court accepting the compromise, the apex court said: “High court was not right in thinking that it was only an injury to the person and since the accused persons had received the monetary compensation and settled the matter, the crime as against them was wiped off.”
Accused Banwari and Shambhu were taking goods on credit from Abdul Rashid in Rajasthan’s Kota. Refused credit one day, they came back later and attacked Rashid with an iron rod and sword, injuring him seriously.
The fast track court in Kota had sentenced Banwari and Shambhu in July 2009 to ten years rigorous imprisonment (RI) and fine of Rs.5,000 each for near fatal assault on the shopkeeper refusing to give goods any further on credit to them. The two subsequently appealed to the high court.