What is the meaning of Suspension of Sentence?

‘Suspension’ means ‘to take or withdraw’. ‘Sentence’ means a punishment given after the formal conviction of a crime that the convicted person is required to serve. Therefore, ‘Suspension of sentence’ means remission of sentence after serving a period of the sentence at the discretion of the competent authority. It is an act of mercy by exempting the convicted person from his/her remaining sentence. A person becomes eligible for suspension of sentence only when he is convicted and has right to file an appeal. Thus at the stage of appeal, the bail takes the form of Suspension of sentence.Chapter 32 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 provides for the provision of suspension of sentence.

Object of Suspension of Sentence:

The object is to ensure that the burden of inordinate delay and the high price of suffering in jail are not faced while the appeal is pending for years together.

Under what provision Court has the power to suspend the sentence?

Appellate Court- According to Section 389(1) of Code of Criminal Procedure, the appellate court can exercise its power to grant bail or suspend the sentence if the appeal is filed by the convicted person and his appeal is pending before the court. The appellate court has to record its reasons in writing.

High Court- According to Section 389(2) of Code of Criminal Procedure, the High court can exercise the power of the appellate court even if the appeal is preferred to a subordinate court.

Trial Court- According to Section 389(3) of Code of Criminal Procedure, the trial court can itself grant a bail to convicted accused enabling him to prefer an appeal. The court has power to grant bail if the convicted person expresses his intention to prefer an appeal. The court can also refuse the bail if there are “special reasons” after recording it in writing. This provision is applicable only when the following conditions are fulfilled:

  1. The Court must be the convicting Court.
  2. The accused must be convicted by the Court.
  3. The convict must be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.
  4. The convict must express his intent to present an appeal before the appellate court.
  5. The convict must be on bail on the day of the judgment.
  6. There should be right of appeal.

Therefore, it is provided that the sentence of imprisonment shall be deemed to be suspended so long as he/she is so released on bail.

Whether conditions can be imposed by the Court?

Yes, Suspension of sentence can be conditional as well as unconditional.

In case of conditional suspension of sentence- The Court can release the convicted person from the prison for as long as he/she fulfills the condition of the suspension. If the convict violates the terms of a conditional suspension, then the court can direct for the re-arrest of the convict and order to execute the sentence primarily given to him.

In case of unconditional suspension of sentence- The court can release the convicted person from the prison without any conditions imposed. The court has the power to re-arrest the convict and direct him to undergo the rest of the sentence without assigning any reason.

What are the powers granted to the President and the Governor by the Constitution?

The constitution of India provides for the additional power to the President and the Governor of States under Article 72 and 161 of Indian Constitution to suspend commute or remit the sentences of the convicts in certain cases.

What are the powers granted to the Government?

The appropriate Government has power to suspend the execution of the convict’s sentence or remit the whole or any part of the punishment to which he/she has been sentenced with or without conditions under Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Here, appropriate Government means Central or State Government. However, the appropriate government may require the opinion of the presiding Judge of the court by whom the conviction had delivered and also ask to forward a certified copy of the record of the trial as exists.

The appropriate government has power to cancel the suspension of sentence if may require. In case any convict’s death sentence has been reduced to life imprisonment then he should serve at least a term of 14 years in prison. In exceptional cases, the State Government has to discuss with the Central Government to suspend or remit the sentence of the convicts.


Associate at Aggarwals & Associates, S.A.S. Nagar, Mohali