NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said it is not mandatory to direct a convict to serve a particular period of jail term after his conviction to allow his plea for suspension of sentence by the Appellate Court.
A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal also said there is no hard and fast rule for an accused to serve a certain period of jail term before the suspension of sentence.
The top court put a question mark on Gujarat High Court's order, which accepted a contention by the state government that only the period undergone post conviction can be considered for such a purpose.
Acting on an appeal filed by Vishnubhai Ganpatbhai Patel and another against the High Court's order of June 20, 2023, the bench directed the trial court to release them on bail within a week till the disposal of their appeal.
The appellants were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment after being convicted of the offences punishable under Section 304 Part I read with Sections 114, 506(2) and 504 of the IPC.
They had undergone sentence for approximately four years and more.
"In our view, the High Court ought to have favorably considered the prayer for grant of suspension of sentence when there were no antecedents and more than 40 per cent of the sentence has been undergone," the bench said.
The court said that the appeal is of the year 2023 which is unlikely to be heard before the entire period of sentence of the appellants is over.
"We may note here something about the approach of the High Court while dealing with the application for suspension of sentence. Before the High Court, surprisingly, a submission was made on behalf of the State that sentence undergone only post conviction should be considered and therefore, a submission was made that the appellants had undergone only 05 months and 27 days," the bench said.
The court said the High Court has accepted the said submission by recording that the appellants have not even completed one year of sentence.
"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," the bench held.