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Punishment for Murder Cannot be less than life imprisonment: Held by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court held that if an accused person is found guilty of murder, a crime punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, there cannot be any sentence other than life imprisonment.

Justices M. R. Shah and Krishna Murari said, “If an accused is guilty of the offence under Section 302 IPC, there can be no sentence or punishment other than life in prison. It would be against Section 302 IPC to impose any penalty for the offence punishable under that section other than life in prison. “The bench also stated that the punishment for murder can be death or life imprisonment with a fine; thereafter, the minimum punishment for murder is life imprisonment.

An appeal against a decision by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, in which the respondent’s sentence was reduced from life in prison to the sentence already served while maintaining his conviction under Sections 147, 148, 323 and 302/34 of the IPC, was heard by a bench of Justices MR Shah and Krishna Murari. The Supreme Court noted that when the High Court rendered its decision and reduced the term, the accused had served seven years and ten months of their imprisonment.

The Bench further stated that “We are of the firm opinion that the same is impermissible and unsustainable,” Though the High Court has maintained the conviction of the respondent – accused for the offence under Section 302 IPC, the High Court has reduced the sentence to already undergone seven years and ten months. The High Court’s decision to reduce the sentence, according to the court, was unlawful and unjustifiable. “Death or life imprisonment shall be the punishment for murder under Section 302 IPC,” the Court stated.

The Court stated, “No other punishment less than imprisonment for life for an offence under Section 302 would be unlawful.” The bench ordered the defendant to appear before the relevant court within 8 weeks to undergo life imprisonment.  

Ahir Mitra
Ahir Mitra

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