Section 427 CrPC – Sentence Of Escaped Life Convict Will Not Run Concurrently: Karnataka High Court

By – Alankriti Narayan

The verdict came in a case where the accused escaped on a parole leave of 15 days and was caught 5 and a half years later.

According to the Karnataka High Court, a life convict who is convicted for fleeing from jail on parole leave cannot claim that his following sentence, which is less severe in nature, runs concurrently with the prison term he was serving.

In the year 2005, the accused was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. In 2011, he was awarded a 15-day period of parole leave. He did not return, however, and was apprehended after 5 12 years. He was later tried under section 58 of the Karnataka Prisons Act, pleading guilty and being found guilty.

Convict Bandenawaj had approached the court, contesting the judgment of the III Additional Sessions Judge, Vijayapura, dated 15.03.2021, dismissing his appeal due to delay and upholding his sentence of six months simple imprisonment under section 58 of the Karnataka Prisons Act. The court stated that the six-month imprisonment will begin to post the life imprisonment punishment. Though the verdict was questioned before the Sessions Judge yet the appeal was dismissed after a 960 days delay.

Advocate R S Lagali, from the petitioner’s side, referred to Section 427(2) of CrPC) and the case of Jitendra Alias Kalla v. the State of Govt. of NCT of Delhi reported in AIR 2018 SC 5253, wherein it was allowed to run both the sentences simultaneously. He also mentioned that continuing the punishment post the initial life imprisonment is harsh. Whereas Advocate Gururaj V Hasilkar argued that Section 427(2) of the Cr.P.C. does not apply because he escaped from serving his sentence and was also absconded for 5 and a half years when he was released on parole.

The Court held that an escaped criminal cannot claim the advantage of Section 427(2) CrPC, which states that a person’s following sentence will run concurrently with his or her existing sentence. The court noted that the convict not only did not return timely from a 15 days parole leave but also was on the run for 5 and a half years.

The court referred to a Supreme Court decision in Mohd Zahid v. State through NCB, dismissing the petitioner’s argument that the trial court cannot look into the petitioner’s conduct and that it cannot exercise discretion while ordering the sentence to run consecutively. It was also mentioned that the punishment is decided on the basis of the nature of the crimes committed and here the petitioner escaped on parole leave being a life convict for committing heinous murder. Hence, the benefit under Section 427 of Cr. P.C. can not be provided.