Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The powers of the court are unfettered in imposing punishment on any accused when the minimum and maximum sentences are prescribed for any offence. The courts can impose any period of sentence within the permitted period of sentence prescribed under the Act or Code for such offence, taking into consideration the gravity of the offence, the manner in which it has been committed and such other aspects.

A Division Bench of the Madras High Court, comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and R.Subbiah, made this clear on Friday while dismissing a habeas corpus petition (HCP) seeking to produce a member of a Tamil organisation before the court and set him at liberty.

In his petition, G.Pavendhan, State coordinating secretary of the Thamizhaga Makkal Urimai Kazhagam, said Pozhilan, the detenu was illegally confined in prison. As per the material placed on record, it was alleged by the official authorities that Pozhilan’s father, Perunchithiranar, was the president of the Kazhagam, a Tamil chauvinist movement. Pozhilan was an active member.

Pozhilan, along with other accused, conspired to blow up the Nehru statue at the Kathipara Junction here and the TV relay station at Kodaikanal. Time bombs planted at the statue on April 10, 1988 exploded, damaging to the statue. When the co-accused were planting time bombs at the television tower the next day, a bomb exploded accidentally causing the death of an accused, besides causing extensive damage to the compound wall of the television tower station.

Both the cases were clubbed and the Principal Sessions Judge, Dindigul, in 1997 awarded life imprisonment to Pozhilan. Aggrieved, the detenu preferred an appeal before the High Court, which modified the sentence to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.

His SLP was dismissed. A Division Bench of the Madurai Bench dismissed an HCP filed by his wife and an application filed by the detenu seeking to review the judgment passed in the appeal, as not maintainable. After this, the present HCP was filed.

The petitioner contended that the detenu should not have been awarded 10 years RI by the High Court Division Bench since nowhere in the old Explosive Substances Act it had been contemplated that the minimum period of sentence for an offence under Section 3 of the Act was 10 years.

The Bench said in the present case though no minimum period of sentence was prescribed and only a maximum period of life imprisonment was prescribed for the offence under Section 3 of the old Act, the Division Bench of the Madurai Bench had imposed the sentence of 10 years. Nowhere it had mentioned that it was imposing the minimum sentence prescribed for the offence.

The Bench said no new ground had been brought forth before it.