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Any punishment in murder case less than life imprisonment contrary to Section 302 of IPC: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court reiterated that ,giving any punishment less than a life sentence for an offence of murder, would be contrary to Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Krishna Murari ruled that the order by the Madhya Pradesh High Court was unsustainable for reducing life sentence in a murder case.

The Court said “The punishment for murder under Section 302 IPC shall be death or imprisonment for life and fine. Therefore, the minimum sentence provided for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC would be imprisonment for life and fine.

There cannot be any sentence/ punishment less than imprisonment for life, if an accused is convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC. Any punishment less than the imprisonment for life for the offence punishable under Section 302 would be contrary to Section 302 IPC.”

The Apex court was hearing an appeal against an order passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in 2019, wherein the trial court had reduced the punishment of murder.

The accused in the case got benefit of the right to private defence, and reduced sentence to the period by the High Court after by reducing the sentence of the seven years and ten months period, he was behind the bar.

The present appeal was moved by the State.

The Deputy Advocate General Ankita Chaudhary submitted that the order under challenge was erroneous and contrary to Section 302 (punishment for murder) of the IPC.

Accepting the same, the Court noted that the High Court had maintained the conviction of the accused for murder, however had reduced the sentence to period already undergone.

As per the Apex Court, this was contrary to Section 302 and unsustainable.

The Supreme Court set aside the High Court verdict and restored the punishment of life imprisonment that the trial court had handed down to the accused.

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