T.U. Mehta, J.
1. The state has preferred this appeal for enhancement of the sentence inflicted on the respondent Nos. 1 to 10 by the court of the Judicial Magistrate first class, at umbergaon under Section 135 of the customs Act in Criminal Case No. 204 of 1974 of his file.
2. Short facts of the case are that on 29th August 1974 when customs officers of Bulsar were patrolling the sea, they sighted one vessel floating on sea at a distance of 4 to 5 miles away from the coast of village Umbergaon. The vessel resembled like an Arab Dhow from its construction and hence the custom authorities proceeded towards it. They gave the signal to the vessel to stop but instead of stopping the vessel tried to run away. The custom officers however, chased it and foiled its attempt to run away by intercepting it. The Custom Officers boarded the vessel and found that it was carrying about 98,800 Yards of foreign fabric valued at Rs. 22,17,233, one television set valued at Rs. 6000/- and two wooden drums of chemical powder valued at Rs. 31,850/-. The total valuation of all these goods was Rs. 22,55,083/-. A panchnama dated 31-8-74 was prepared and it was found that the goods were sought to be illegally imported from Dubai into India.
3. On these facts, respondent Nos. 1 to 10 pleaded guilty. The learned Magistrate who tried the case accepted this plea of guilty and convicted the accused persons under Section 135 of the Customs Act. On the question of sentence, the learned magistrate has observed that the quantity of smuggled goods is a huge one and therefore, no mercy could be shown to the accused. After saying this the learned magistrate has sentenced each of the accused persons to R.I. of 1 1/2 years.
The question which arises to be considered in this appeal is whether the sentence which is inflicted by the learned Magistrate is inadequate or not. My answer to this question is in the affirmative for the following reasons.
4. After the amendment of Section 135 of the Customs Act by amendment Act No. 36 of 19573, in case of an offence relating to any of the goods to which Section 123 applies and the market price thereof exceeds Rs. 1,00,000/- the offence is punishable with the imprisonment for a term which May extend to 7 years and fine. Thus, maximum sentence provided for this offence is seven years R.I. and fine. Looking to this maximum penalty, the sentence which is inflicted by the learned magistrate is, in my opinion, grossly inadequate considering the huge quantity of foreign articles which were admittedly to be smuggled, and also looking to the fact that, on sighting the custom launch, the accused persons tried to make good their escape. Since the offences of this type have assumed disproportionate dimensions, and since they have greatly crippled the economy of the country, the courts are expected to take a very strict view of such offences so as to make the sentences as deterrent as possible so that even others who are potential offenders can realise consequences of playing with the fate of the nation in this manner. Those who try to destroy the economic back-bone of the nation pursuant to an organised and well planned conspiracy, are social enemies of the worst type, and can stand no comparison in treatment with one who commits violence in a fit of hysterical temper and momentary madness. In my view, therefore, the learned magistrate has clearly erred in not passing an order which would work as the proper deterrent. In my opinion R.I. of 5 years for each of the respondent Nos. 1 to 10 would be sufficiently deterrent.
5. Under these circumstances this appeal is allowed and the order of sentence which passed by the learned Magistrate is modified inasmuch as the term of imprisonment is raised from 1 1/2 year to 5 years R.I. so far as each of the respondent Nos. 1 to 10 is concerned.