W.P. (Crl.) No. D. 8788 of 2013. Case: Gurvail Singh @ Gala Vs State of Punjab. Supreme Court (India)

Case NumberW.P. (Crl.) No. D. 8788 of 2013
JudgesB.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde, JJ.
IssuePrisons Act; Indian Penal Code 1860, (IPC) - Sections 34, 302; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) - Section 433A; Constitution of India - Articles 72, 142, 161
Citation2013 (10) SCALE 671
Judgement DateAugust 26, 2013
CourtSupreme Court (India)


1. This Writ Petition is filed for direction to convert the sentence of the Petitioner from 30 years in jail without remission to a sentence of life imprisonment; and further to declare that this Court is not competent to fix a particular number of years (with or without remission) when it commutes the death sentence to life imprisonment while upholding the conviction of the accused under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 hereinafter referred to as 'the Indian Penal Code'). Facts and circumstances giving rise to this petition are that:

  1. The Petitioner alongwith co-accused was charged for killing 4 persons on the intervening night of 20/21.8.2000 and tried for the offences punishable under Sections 302 read with 34 Indian Penal Code. The trial court vide judgment and order dated 27.1.2005/5.2.2005 convicted and awarded death sentence to him alongwith co-accused Jaj Singh.

  2. The High Court vide its judgment and order dated 22.9.2006 dismissed the Criminal Appeal filed by the Petitioner and affirmed the death sentence reference made by the trial court so far as the Petitioner and the co-accused are concerned.

  3. Aggrieved, the Petitioner challenged the said judgment and order dated 22.9.2006 by filing the criminal appeal and this Court vide judgment and order dated 7.2.2013 affirmed the conviction. However, the death sentence was converted into life imprisonment with a direction that the Petitioner shall serve 30 years in jail without remission. The aforesaid decision is reported in Gurvail Singh @ Gala and Anr. v. State of Punjab (2013) 2 SCC 713.

  4. Aggrieved, the Petitioner preferred a review petition, which was also dismissed.

Hence, the writ petition.

2. Shri Rishi Malhotra, learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the Petitioner, has submitted that this Court lacks the power to issue directions that convicts shall serve a particular minimum sentence with or without remission when death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment. Such an argument is being advanced in view of the judgment of this Court in Sangeet and Anr. v. State of Haryana (2013) 2 SCC 452, wherein a two Judge Bench of this Court while dealing with the issue considered the earlier judgments and observed:

55. A reading of some recent decisions delivered by this Court seems to suggest that the remission power of the appropriate Government has effectively been nullified by awarding sentences of 20 years, 25 years and in some cases without any remission. Is this permissible? Can this Court (or any Court for that matter) restrain the appropriate Government from...

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