Expressing serious concern over proliferation of arms and ammunition vitiating law and order situation in the country, the Supreme Court has ruled that courts cannot impose lesser sentence than the minimum prescribed under the law for a convict.
"Proliferation of arms and ammunition, whether licensed or not, in the country disrupts the social order and development, vitiates law and order situation, directly contributes towards lethality of violent acts which needs to be curbed," said a Bench headed by Justice KS Radhakrishnan.
"We are sorry to note the law enforcing agencies and to certain extent the courts in the country always treat the crime lightly without noticing the havoc they can create to the ordinary peace loving citizens of this country…" the bench observed.
Allowing an appeal by Madhya Pradesh government, the court imposed three years imprisonment to a man who was found in illegal possession of a country-made gun, two round bullets and 50 grams of explosives.
The trial had sentenced the man to one year jail, while the minimum sentence was three.
The high court, however, went a step ahead and let off the convict stating he had already had spent substantive sentence in jail, while the man was in prison for only seven days.
Setting aside the HC verdict, the court slammed the judiciary for its casual approach in the case.
"High court has committed a grievous error in not awarding proper sentence after having found the accused guilty. Error is apparent on the face of the high court's order," the court observed.
The bench noted since legislature had prescribed the mandatory minimum sentence of three years under Arms Act to curb unauthorised access of arms and ammunition, it was necessary for a convict to undergo the same.