Bhagwan Narayan Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra and Others

Published On: 15th October, 2023

Authored By: Nyonika Chandak Jindal Global Law School (JGLS)

Bhagwan Narayan Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra and Others

Citation: 2021 SCC online SC 748

Decided on: September 20, 2021

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench: Ajay Rastogi and Abhay s. Oka, JJ.

Appellant – Bhagwan Narayan Gaikwad

Respondent – State of Maharashtra

In a situation where a compromise was reached between the parties, 28 years after an incident that left the victim permanently disabled, the Court emphasized that such a level of brutality cannot be overlooked. The Court noted that this crime isn’t just against an individual but against society as a whole, and it should be handled with the utmost seriousness. The current appeal is challenging the decision and order issued on June 10, 2021, by the High Court of Bombay in Criminal Appeal No. 136 of 1996, which upheld the conviction under Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The appellant was sentenced to serve five years of rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs. 10,000, and under Section 357 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), ordered to pay a monetary compensation of Rs. Two Lakhs to the victim.

FACTS:

  • Subhash Yadavrao Patil, the injured party, was cycling back to Malegaon from Tembhurni.
  • The accused individuals arrived at the scene on a tractor and began hurling stones at him.
  • The accused-appellant struck his right leg with a dangerous instrument (a sword) below the knee, and as a result of the harsh blow, it was nearly amputated.
  • The injured individual suffered a brutal assault involving stones, a sword, a Satur, and other objects.
  • Profuse bleeding from the injuries
  • He was immediately taken to the hospital for medical assistance.
  • The cumulative effect of the victim’s injuries would have led to death if there had been no rapid medical attention.
  • Injury nos. 1 and 4 were dangerous to life.
  • The injured was left in such a critical condition that upon seeing him recording his dying declaration was immediately arranged for
  • After 28 years, compromise affidavit of the victim dated 13th July, 2021 has been placed on record to justify that the victim has no desire to make the appellant undergo the remaining sentence
  • The complainant victim has made a request for the offense to be settled through a compromise and suggests that the appellant should be released considering the time already served.
  • Learned senior counsel keeping in mind the compromise affidavit agreed to compound the offence and in the interest of justice, he may be released on the sentence undergone
  • The counsel representing the State objected to the request, asserting that the fundamental goal of the criminal justice system is to safeguard society.
  • According to the counsel of state, compromise 28 years after the incident, according to him, is obtained by coercion or inducement not only to harm the criminal justice system but it undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law and society.

ISSUE RAISED

  • Can the court decrease the sentence imposed on the accused in the event of an agreement between the victim and the accused?
  • After taking into consideration the nature of the incident, and their related factors can a compromise that was obtained overnight after 28 years of the incident be valid?

JUDGEMENTS

Trial court

  • Initially, a total of 12 accused individuals were subject to trial and were found guilty by the presiding Trial Judge.
  • They were convicted for the offense of causing grievous hurt to Subhash Yadavrao Patil under Section 326 read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • Each of the accused received a sentence of 7 years of rigorous imprisonment and was fined Rs. 1000 each. Failure to pay the fine would result in an additional six months of rigorous imprisonment.
  • This appeal is a collective effort by all 12 accused individuals.

High court

  • The High Court under its impugned judgment found the accused A3, A4, A10 and A12 including the present appellant(A1) guilty
  • They were acquitted because there was insufficient evidence to convict the other accused parties.

Learned counsel for the appellant claimed-

  • Appellant was on bail during trial
  • Also pending appeal to revert back to suffer substantive sentence after 28 years would be unjustified

Court argued:

  • Specific submission by the respective counsel the appellants are on bail
  • After 23 years, it would not be acceptable to have them serve out a meaningful sentence once more.
  • The court cannot overlook the fact that the complainant has persevered with the expectation of receiving justice.
  • This was the principal rationale for imposing a five-year rigorous imprisonment sentence on the appellant while upholding their conviction under Section 326 of the IPC, along with a monetary compensation of Rs. 2 lakhs to be paid under Section 357 of the CrPC to the victim.
  • The learned Chamber Judge rejected the exemption from surrendering.

 SUPREME COURT:

  • There is no disagreement regarding the non-compoundable nature of the offense under Section 326 of the IPC, as per Section 320 of the CrPC.
  • Concurrent finding of fact which has been recorded by the learned trial Judge and confirmed by the High Court in the impugned judgment
  • The appellant has been rightly held guilty and convicted for offence under Section 326 IPC.
  • Learned counsel for the appellant has restricted his submission only for sentencing taking defence of the compromise
  • The compromise has not been obtained out of coercion and inducement and entered with free will
  • Inability to express our contentment with the terms of the compromise reached overnight following the conviction under Section 326 of the IPC.
  • It’s essential to acknowledge that the injured victim faces a lifelong disability, performing daily tasks with prosthetic limbs, having lost vital organs, rendering them permanently disabled.
  • The core of the criminal justice system lies in meting out punishment to wrongdoers.
  • No legislative or judicially established guidelines are found to evaluate the trial court’s determination in dispensing just punishment to the accused after being found guilty of the charges.
  • After 28 years since the occurrence, we have not been able to express our happiness with the type of compromise that has finally been reached and documented.
  • In totality of the facts and circumstances of the case, we are not inclined to give any benefit of the alleged compromise for interfering in the sentence awarded by the High Court.

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