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Supreme Court hold if sentence of fine is imposed along with the sentence of Imprisonment under Section 431 CrPC, such appeal shall not abate on the death of accused.

An appeal was filed by accused in Kerala High Court against the order of conviction and sentence under section 55 (a) and (g) of the Kerala Abkari Act & sentenced to undergo imprisonment of two years along with fine of Rs 1 lakh.

However, the appellant/accused died during the pendency of appeal and High Court after considering the evidence on record upheld the conviction. The High Court took the view that since the appellant died pending the appeal, the sentence of imprisonment has become unworkable, however, regarding the imposition of fine, there is no reason to hold that Court below committed any mistake and the appeal was consequently dismissed. The appeal has been filed by Girija A. the Legal heir of Ramesan (deceased).

A bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice M R Shah said, “The expression, which was used in Section 431, i.e. ‘except an appeal from the sentence of fine’ has been used in Section 394CrPC. Thus, the appeal in the present case where accused was sentenced for imprisonment as well as for fine has to be treated as an appeal against fine and was not to abate and High Court did not commit any error in deciding the appeal on merits.”

Learned counsel for the appellant contended in view of the death of the accused the High Court ought to have abated the entire appeal. When there was a composite sentence of imprisonment as well as fine, the appeal has to abate both against the sentence of imprisonment as well as fine.

Refuting the said contention, counsel for the State contented that there being a sentence of fine also, the appeal has rightly been decided on merits by the High Court. The sentence of fine or composite sentence of imprisonment and fine is also a sentence of fine.

Supreme Court after considering the submissions made by counsels and considering the law said, “both under the Old code as well as under the present code of criminal procedure, it is provided that the appeal against a sentence of fine shall not abate.”

“We, thus, conclude that the appeal filed by accused Ramesan in the High Court was not abate on death of the accused. The High Court rightly did not direct for abatement of appeal and proceeded to consider the appeal on merits. The appeal before the High Court being against sentence of fine was required to be heard against the sentence of fine despite death of the accused/appellant”, said Supreme Court.

Supreme Court has given an opportunity to Legal Heirs to make submissions before High Court against the sentence of fine and directed high court to hear the appeal.

-India Legal Bureau

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