High Court commutes sentence of 87-year-old on age ground

Bombay High Court has commutted from five to three-and-a-half years the sentence of an 87-year-old man on account of old age. It instead increased the fine imposed on him.

Sangli resident Shantappa Manare is accused of causing the death of his elder brother by hitting him on the head with a wooden log after a quarrel. In a recent order, justice R C Chavan upheld his conviction by a sessions court under IPC section 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).

The trial court "rightly came to the conclusion that the injury that led to the death of the victim was caused by a blow given by the appellant (Shantappa)," he said, adding: "The appellant need not be blamed for the 17-year delay in hearing the matter. In any case, the appellant is now 87 years old. If the appellant is sent to jail at this stage, no useful purpose would be served in the context in which the offence was committed." Chavan rejected the prosecution contention that delay in court proceedings should not lead to commutation of sentence, especially if there has been loss of life.

The accused was 70 years old when the incident took place in March 1995. He was in jail for 15 months till June 1996. HC reduced his sentence to the period he was in custody, but increased fine from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh.

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