Lest we forget!
This happened in 2011 when Mark Katju was a judge of the SC.
New Delhi, Tue Feb 22 2011, 19:44 hrs
In an unusual order, the Supreme Court let off three gang rapists after they claimed a ‘compromise formula’ with the victim and agreed to pay her a fine of Rs 50,000 each for their offence.
A bench of justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra reduced to three and half years the 10-year sentence awarded to three gang rapists who took the plea that both the convicts and the victim were now happily married to different people and “wanted to live peacefully.”
Under Section 376(G) of the IPC, the minimum sentence to the gang rapists is 10 years, which may extend even to life imprisonment.
Though Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra was not initially inclined to compound (close the case by way of fine)the matter as it was not a compoundable offence, the apex court later relented and agreed to let them off provided the convicts paid Rs 50,000 each to the victim.
The apex court ordered that ” the amount shall be paid to the victim within three months”, failing which the same shall be recovered under the Land Revenue Act from the trio and paid to the victim.
In this case, the convicts Baldev Singh, Gurmail Singh and Hardeep Singh, all said to be agricultural farmers, had gangraped the victim in Punjab’s Ludhiana district on March 5, 1997.
The sessions court had awarded 10 years imprisonment to the convicts.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had dismissed the convicts’ appeal, following which they appealed in the apex court.
Now here is his lame excuse:
A lot of criticism against me has appeared on the net regarding the judgment in Baldev Singh vs. State of Punjab (2011) 13 S.C.C. 705: A.I.R. 2011 S.C. 1231 (which can be seen online) in which the sentence of imprisonment of the 3 gangrape accused was reduced. Hence an explanation is called for, which is given below :
(1) It was a decision of a bench of two Judges, one of whom was a lady Judge (Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra), and not my judgment alone.
(2) Section 376(2)(g) of the Indian Penal Code says that the minimum sentence in a case of gangrape shall be 10 years. However, there is a proviso to that provision which says that for special and adequate reasons the Court can give lesser punishment.
(3) The trial Court and High Court had awarded 10 years sentence to the 3 accused. We took recourse to the proviso and reduced the sentence of imprisonment to the 3 and a half years which the accused had already served, and a fine of 1.5 lacs (Rs 50,000 to be paid by each accused) which had to be paid to the woman victim.
(4) The reasons for doing so were these :
(a) The parties had themselves filed a joint application before us that they had compromised the matter, and the victim would be satisfied if instead of making the accused undergo further imprisonment some compensation was awarded to her.
(b) The incident was of the year 1997 i.e. about 15 years old, and both the accused and the victim had got married (not to each other). The victim was poor and had 2 children, and by getting some money she could better look after her children.
(c) It was not that the accused had not suffered any imprisonment. They had already undergone 3 and a half years imprisonment. Making them undergo further imprisonment would not help the victim, whereas by giving her some money we could help her feed her children