The Delhi High Court has issued notice to the Central Government on a plea seeking to make offences under Sections326, 327, 363A, 377, 382, 386, 389, 392, 394, 409, 455, 458, 467, 493, 495 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, triable by Sessions Courts.
A Division Bench comprising of JusticesSiddharth Mridul and Anu Malhotra was hearing a plea filed by Amit Sahni wherein he pointed out a major lacunae in the law that although IPC prescribes a prison sentence of ten years to life for offences under the above Sections, there is no provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, that empowers the magistrate to impose the maximum sentence prescribed under the IPC.
Some of the offences covered by the above Sections are voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means (Sec 326), kidnapping or maiming a minor for purposes of begging (Sec 363A), punishment for robbery (Sec 392), unnatural offences (Sec 377), and cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage (Sec 493).
Presently, the offences under the above provisions as per Schedule I of CrPC are triable by a Metropolitan Magistrate/Judicial Magistrate First Class who can award a sentence of up to 3 years only in terms of Section 29 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
The magistrate may refer the matter to the Chief Judicial Magistrate/Chief Metropolitan Magistrate under Section 325 CrPC in case it is felt that 3 years punishment is not sufficient in any particular case. However, the CJM/CMM can only award a sentence of up to 7 years’ imprisonment as provided in terms of Section 29(1) of CrPC.
Therefore, in his petition, Mr. Sahni has claimed that Schedule I of the CrPC, insofar as it makes the aforementioned sections of the IPC triable by a magistrate, is ultra viresArticles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
He sought the Court to direct the Central Government to rectify this “inherent lacuna in the procedural law” – which defeats the object of substantive law – by bringing an amendment to Schedule-I of CrPC and making the above Sections triable by Sessions Courts instead of Courts of Judicial Magistrate of First Class.
The Court has posted the matter for hearing on July 16, 2019.