Clemency in sentence on delay in trial: Supreme Court

Distribution of property after death

NEW DELHI: In a ruling of a man which was delayed by almost 30 years has brought with itself a change in the delivery and what could in the future leave a dent on judgment of such sorts.  In the case of a man who was indicted by the CBI of accepting bribe of Rs265 in 1984, has now been set free of the prison term by paying affine of Rs 50,000.

Keeping in mind the age of the man, Justices S J Mukhopadhaya and Kurian Joseph said on Friday, “The long delay before the courts in taking a final decision with regard to the guilt or otherwise of the accused is one of mitigating factors for the superior courts to take into consideration while taking a decision on the quantum of sentence.”

The average time for a civil dispute has come up to 15 years just to get past the initial judiciary and the litigation gets further increased if the verdict is challenged in the High Court and then in the Supreme Court.

This particular case has been trial ever since the CBI registered an FIR Against V K Verma on December 21, 1984. The matter took another 10 years to be registered as a sessions case and almost another 10 to see the trial before coming forth the High Court, where it took another 10 years.

Justice Kurian also said, “The accused has already undergone physical incarceration for three months and mental incarceration for about 30 years. Whether at this age and stage, it would not be economically wasteful, and a liability to the State to keep the appellant in prison, is the question we have to address.”

“We are of the view that the facts mentioned above would certainly be special reasons for reducing the substantive sentence but enhancing the fine, while maintaining the conviction,” the bench said and allowed the appeal asking Verma to pay Rs 50,000 as fine in 3 months without having to undergo further imprisonment. In the event of his failure to pay the fine, he would be taken to jail for 6 months, it said.

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