1. This is an appeal by the State for enhancement of the sentence. The accused was charged under Section 135(b)(ii) of the Customs Act and Section 85(ii), (iii) and (ix) of the Gold Control Act, 1968. On a plea of guilt he was convicted for the offences under the said sections. Taking some factors into account such as the accused being the first offender, his father having died, the accused having sisters yet to be married and the accused being a student also yet to be settled down and married, the learned trial Magistrate imposed a sentence on the accused till the rising of the Court and to pay a fine of Rs. 500/- under each count, in default, rigorous imprisonment for four months under each count. The gold which was seized had already stood confiscated under the Customs Act.
2. Hearing Mr. H. A. Solkar, the learned Public Prosecutor for the State and Mr. V. H. Gumaste, the learned counsel for the respondent-accused, I am not at all satisfied with the sentence imposed by the learned trial Magistrate. It makes a mockery of justice particularly when the offences involved are of a serious nature and have drastic consequences on the economy of the country. I am also not prepared to accept the contention of the learned counsel Mr. Gumaste that because the accused is the first offender and because he was, at the relevant time, a student and because in this family there are certain problems, the sentence imposed on the accused is just and fair. Indeed, these can hardly be called 'special circumstances' within the meaning of the proviso to Section 85 of the Gold Control Act (prior to its amendment) which can be said to warrant reduction of the minimum sentence of six months to less than the said period. I am, therefore, inclined to enhance the sentence.
3. On the question of substantive sentence, however, I do feel that since almost ten years have now elapsed since the offence took place and since the accused has under gone the strain of a prosecution and this appeal during the said period, it would not be proper to now send him to jail. My view would have been different if such long delay had not taken place in the process of prior prosecution and the final hearing of this appeal. In view, however, of the aforesaid factors, I am not inclined to enhance the substantive sentence imposed on the accused by the learned trial Magistrate. On the sentence of fine, however, this is, in my view, a fit case where the fine of Rs. 500/- for each count imposed on the accused deserves to be enhanced to fine of Rs. 5,000/- under each count, thus resulting in a total fine of Rs. 10,000/-. The accused is given one month's time from today to pay the said fine. He is at liberty to deposit the amount of this fine in this Court. In default of payment of the fine of Rs. 5,000/- under each count, the accused shall undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months under each count. Thus, while confirming the conviction of the accused, the sentence imposed upon him by the learned trial Magistrate is enhanced accordingly. Appeal allowed.
4. Appeal allowed.