In a recent Supreme Court (SC) order, the Supreme Court bench consisting of Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Abhay S. Oka highlighted that there is no hard and fast rule that requires an accused to serve a sentence for a particular period before considering his prayer for suspension of sentence. This was said while considering a special leave petition (SLP) filed against the Gujarat High Court order refusing to suspend the sentence. In this case, the appellants were convicted for offences punishable under Section 304 Part I read with Sections 114, 504, and 506(2) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). the maximum sentence is rigorous imprisonment for 10 years whereas the appellants have undergone a sentence of approximately 4 years. An application for suspension of sentence was rejected by the impugned order of the High Court on June 20 this year.
The Supreme Court bench found the High Court’s (HC) approach incorrect and observed, “Before the High Court, surprisingly, a submission was made on behalf of the State that sentence undergone only post-conviction should be considered and therefore, a submission was made that the appellants had undergone only 5 months and 27 days. The High Court has accepted the said submission by recording that the appellants have not even completed 1 year of sentence. Apart from the fact that the said approach is incorrect, we may note here that there is no hard and fast rule which requires an accused to undergo sentence for a particular period before his prayer for suspension of sentence is considered.” The SC bench further allowed the appeal and directed that “the appellants shall be produced before the Trial Court within a period of one week from today. The Trial Court shall enlarge the appellants on bail on appropriate terms and conditions till the final disposal of the appeal before the High Court.”