"Such an order is violative of the mandatory requirement of law and has defeated the legislative mandate. Deciding the case in such a casual manner reduces the criminal justice delivery system to mockery," a bench of justices BS Chauhan and Dipak Misra said in a judgement. The apex court passed the judgement while upholding an appeal filed by the Rajasthan Government challenging the High Court's decision to reduce the sentence on two rapists Vinod Kumar and Heera Lal without recording any special reasons for taking the lenient view.
On January 22, 2005, the Special Judge Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act had awarded 7 years RI for the duo after convicting them for rape of an SC woman who had checked into the hotel along with her brother-in-law. However, the High Court on an appeal by the convicts reduced the sentence of Vinod Kumar from 7 years to 5 years and that of Heera Lal from 7 years to 11 months and 25 days.
Section 376 IPC (rape) mandates a minimum 7 years punishment, but which may be life or for a term which may extend to 10 years, provided that the court may for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgement, impose the punishment for a term less than 7 years.