New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on a government official for accepting a bribe of Rs 265 from a contractor 29 years ago.
Upholding the conviction of the employee V K Verma, a bench headed by Justice S J Mukhopadhaya, however, reduced his jail term of one and half years awarded by a trial court to the period already undergone.
The bench took a sympathetic view considering the age of Verma who is now 76 and not keeping well.
“The substantive sentence of imprisonment is reduced to the period already undergone. However, an amount of Rs.50,000 is imposed as fine. The appellant shall deposit the fine within three months and, if not, he shall undergo imprisonment for a period of six months,” the bench said.
“The offence is of the year 1984. It is almost three decades now. The accused has already undergone physical incarceration for three months and mental incarceration for about thirty years. Whether at this age and stage, it would not be economically wasteful and a liability to the state to keep the appellant in prison is the question we have to address.
“Having given thoughtful consideration to all the aspects of the matter, we are of the view that the facts mentioned above would certainly be special reasons for reducing the substantive sentence but enhancing the fine while maintaining the conviction,” it said.
The sessions court had convicted Verma and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one and half years with a fine of Rs 5,000 each on April 10, 2003.
“The long delay before the courts in taking a final decision with regard to the guilt or otherwise of the accused is one of the mitigating factors for the superior courts to take into consideration while taking a decision on the quantum of sentence,” the apex court said.—PTI