Supreme Court made it clear that there is no hard and fast rule that a convict should serve his/her sentence for a particular time period to be able to file an application for the suspension of the sentence.
The bench comprising Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal made the following observations while hearing a special leave petition challenging a Gujarat High Court order wherein the court refused to suspend the sentence.
While considering the application to seek suspension of sentence, the High Court bench considered only the post-conviction time of the two convicts as the period of sentence they served.
The bench added, “Before the High Court, surprisingly, a submission was made on behalf of the State that sentence undergone only post conviction should be considered … The High Court has accepted the said submission … 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.”
In the instant case, the appellants had served 4 years of sentence and were convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The maximum substantive sentence is 10 years rigorous imprisonment.
Given the circumstances, the Supreme Court expressed the view that the High Court should have positively reviewed the convicts’ application. This is because the convicts had a clean record with no prior criminal history and they had already served a substantial portion, over 40 percent, of the maximum sentence for their offence.
Therefore, the apex court allowed the appeal. Now, the appellants will be presented before the trial court within a week to be enlarged on bail.