Default sentence of one year in lieu of a hefty fine of Rs 1 lakh tilts the scales of justice in favour of the rich, observed the Supreme Court in Sasikumar and another vs. State of Kerala.

The appellants and another, who could not afford the appeal to the Apex court, were sentenced to three years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh or a further imprisonment of another one year in case of inability to cough up the fine.

The High Court used its discretion and reduced the sentence of rigorous imprisonment to 18 months from three years considering their age and the sentence already served and also the default sentence to six months on the ground that the carriers of arrack were poor. Had they been rich, they would have walked out of the prison after serving 18 months by paying the fine happily.

The Supreme Court while endorsing the High Court sentence observed that the appellants were only the executors of the illicit trade with their masters were careful enough to be outside the pale of law.

(This article was published on January 4, 2013)
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