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Shyam Pal v. Dayawati Besoya and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (28 Oct 2016)

Subsequent sentence can be directed to run concurrently with previous one in a case where prosecution is based on single transaction, even if, different complaints in relation thereto have been filed



Instant appeals called in question judgment passed by High Court of Delhi in Criminal Revision Petition, sustaining conviction of Appellant under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1988 as recorded by Trial Court and affirmed in appeal by District and Sessions Judge. High Court while maintaining substantive sentence of simple imprisonment for 10 months and fine of Rs. 6,50,000/- as compensation as awarded by trial Court, however reduced default sentence from six months simple imprisonment to that of three months. Appellant has urged that as both the complaints filed by the Respondents have arisen out of successive transactions in a series between the same parties and had been tried together on the basis of same set of evidence, the sentences awarded ought to run concurrently, the High Court had failed to appreciate the same.

Complaints filed by Respondents stem from two identical transactions between same parties whereunder Respondent had advanced loan of Rs. 5 lacs each to Appellant on two different dates against which latter had issued cheques to discharge his debt and that cheques had been dishonored. Facts pleaded and proved do unassailably demonstrate that, loans advanced had been in course of a series of transactions between same parties on same terms and conditions. Significantly in both cases, following conviction of Appellant under Section 138 of Act, same sentences as well have been awarded. There is thus an overwhelming identicalness in features of both cases permitting, the two transactions, though undertaken at different points of time, to be deemed as a singular transaction or two segments of one transaction. This deduction understandably is in the singular facts of the case.

Law on orientation of two sentences awarded to an offender following his conviction successively, to define the cumulative duration thereof is envisaged in Section 427 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. In V.K. Bansal v. State of Haryana and Anr., it was held that, though it is manifest from Section 427(1), that the Court has the power and discretion to issue a direction that a subsequent sentence shall run concurrently with previous sentences, very nature of the power so conferred, predicates that the discretion, would have to be exercised along judicial lines or not in a mechanical or pedantic manner. It was however postulated, that legal position favours exercise of discretion to the benefit of the prisoners in cases where the prosecution is based on a single transaction, no matter even if different complaints in relation thereto might have been filed. The caveat as well was that such a concession cannot be extended to transactions which are distinctly different, separate and independent of each other and amongst others where the parties are not the same.

The imperative essentiality of a single transaction as the decisive factor to enable Court to direct the subsequent sentence to run concurrently with the previous one was thus underscored. It was expounded as well that the direction for concurrent running of sentence would be limited to the substantive sentence alone.

In a recent decision of this Court in Benson v. State of Kerala, this Court in singular facts as involved and having regard to the duration of his incarceration and remission earned by him, extended benefit of such discretion and directed that, sentences awarded to him in those cases would run concurrently. In facts of present appeal, Appellant is entitled to the benefit of the discretion contained in Section 427 of Code. Thus, Supreme Court ordered substantive sentences of 10 months simple imprisonment awarded to the Appellant in the two complaint cases would run concurrently.

Relevant : V.K. Bansal v. State of Haryana and Anr. : (2013) 7 SCC 211; MANU/SC/0673/2013 Benson v. State of Kerala Criminal Appeal No. 958 of 2016, Section 427, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC)


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