In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court has held that legal heirs of a deceased convict are liable to pay fines and compensation, imposed by the trial courts, from the properties left behind by him.
The judgement was delivered by Justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, who observed that death of a convict does not discharge him from the liability of paying fine and compensation imposed by court, and this amount can be recovered from the properties left behind by the deceased.
The judge recently dismissed a petition filed by Shamim Sarkhot, a resident of Srivardhan in Raigad district of Maharashtra, praying that she cannot be compelled to pay the fine and compensation imposed by a court on her husband as she was merely a legal heir of a dead convict.
Shamim's husband, Saifuddin, was convicted by a magistrate in Srivardhan for not honouring a cheque issued by him to a local businessman in 2006.
The trial court had ordered him to pay Rs 25,000 fine to the state government and Rs 2.85 lakhs to the victim. Saifuddin challenged the order in a higher court and during pendency of the appeal, he passed away.
The victim, however, approached the trial court for recovery of compensation and the magistrate in December last year ordered Saifuddin's widow to pay the amount.
Shamim moved the Bombay High Court by challenging the magistrate's order who had asked her to pay the fine and compensation from the estate of her deceased husband.
She contended that she was merely a legal heir and was holding properties of her husband under a will left behind by him. Hence, Shamim argued, she could not have been asked to pay the fine and the amount of compensation, as ordered by the trial court.
The high court, however, rejected her plea saying if a convict fails to pay the fine under the provisions of CrPc, the amount can be recovered from his properties. The judge ruled that the properties of Saifuddin were now in the custody of his widow and all these came to her along with the liabilities of her deceased husband. Therefore, the order of the magistrate, asking her to pay the fine and compensation on behalf of Saifuddin, was legal and proper.