A 32-year-old doctor has been ordered by the Supreme Court to plant 100 trees in the next one year as punishment for attempting to commit murder at the age of 16.
Solemen S.K., a doctor practising at Murshidabad in West Bengal, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for the crime. The Calcutta High Court confirmed the sentence.
But things took an unexpected turn when Solemen approached the Supreme court saying he was a minor at the time of the incident in August 2004.
Intrigued by the doctor’s plea, the Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta asked the District and Sessions Judge, Berhampore, Murshidabad, West Bengal on February 25 to check out Solemen’s story.
The District Judge confirmed that the doctor was indeed a minor of 16 years seven months and 28 days on the date of the offence. Solemen, the judge’s report said, was born on February 30, 1987. His school records fortify the evidence of his age.
The court said the doctor, under the law, would ideally be considered as a “child in conflict of law”, only he is too old to be called that at this age.
Again, there is no good in sending the 32-year-old doctor now before a Juvenile Board, as is usual in the case of juvenile offenders.
“Instead, we are of the opinion that the ends of justice would be met by directing the petitioner who is now a registered medical practitioner aged 32 years, practising in Murshidabad to perform community service,” the Supreme court suggested.
The Supreme Court’s suggestion was seconded by the State of Uttar Pradesh, which found the planting of trees as an apt punishment for the doctor.
“The learned counsel for the State suggested that this obligation of performing community service could be met with by a direction to the petitioner to plant trees. We accept the suggestion made by the learned counsel for the petitioner and direct the petitioner to plant 100 trees within a period of one year,” the Supreme Court concluded in its five-page order recently.