Even while commuting Capital Punishment because of Mitigating Circumstances, the Appellant has to be Awarded Life Imprisonment: Supreme Court  

The Supreme Court stated that even while commuting Capital Punishment because of mitigating circumstances, the appellant has to be awarded Life Imprisonment.

Background 

Laxmibai Batham and Shri Ganesh are the parents of the deceased minor girl aged 8 years. Brij Lal and Janki are her maternal grand- parents. Laxmibai Batham is the cousin sister of the appellant-convict. In other words, the appellant convict is an uncle (mama) of the deceased minor girl. The incident occurred on 19.9.2014. On that fateful day at about 08:30 pm, Raju Badam, who is the father of the appellant, sent her to purchase a bundle of bidi from a nearby shop. While proceeding to the shop she went past the house of Sri Patiram Basudev @ Pappu. The appellant who was there, with Pappu and one Rakesh, happened to see her. They gathered there for drinking. Upon seeing the victim, the appellant asked her whether she was going and then, he followed her after promising the retinue that he would return.  

Thereafter she was found missing. After a fervent, futile search till midnight Laxmibai Batham lodged a complaint about her missing. On 20.09.2014 itself, upon interrogation of the appellant and the aforesaid Rakesh and Patiram Basudev @ Pappu, the appellant was arrested. While in custody, the appellant made a disclosure Statement and thereafter, at his instance, the victim’s corpse concealed underneath gunny bags, was recovered. A team of two doctors conducted autopsy on the body of the deceased and the post-mortem and the forensic science laboratory (FSL) reports revealed commission of rape in a diabolically and gruesome manner and causing of death by throttling. 

Arguments 

Senior Advocate Sonia Mathur, Amicus Curiae appearing for the appellant, submitted that the conviction of the appellant is founded on circumstantial evidence and a scanning of the materials on record and the circumstances relied on for his conviction, would reveal that the chain of circumstances was not complete. 

She contended that even a cursory glance of such evidence and the materials relied on would reveal that the appellant was entitled to get the benefit of doubt. 

Advocate Pashupatinath Razdan, counsel for the State, sought to sustain the judgment contending that the concurrent findings and the reasons assigned therefor, are nothing but outcome of proper analysis and appreciation/re-appreciation of evidence on record, by the trial Court and the High Court. 

He urged that the contention based on failure to comply with Section 53A Cr.P.C. is absolutely bereft of any basis or merits as after rightly construing the position of law under Section 53A Cr.P.C., the High Court had properly appreciated the remaining evidence to arrive at the conclusion that the prosecution had succeeded in establishing a complete chain of circumstances pointing to the guilt of the appellant alone. 

Decision 

The three judge bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice C.T. Ravikumar stated that for imposing capital sentence, the crime must be uncommon in nature where even after taking into account the mitigating circumstances the Court must be of the opinion that the sentence of imprisonment for life is inadequate and there is no alternative but to impose death sentence. 

The court further said that the heinous and brutal nature of the commission of crime, viz., brutal rape and murder of an eight-year old girl child who is none other than the daughter of his own cousin, that too in a hapless situation, is definitely an aggravating circumstance. 

The court reiterated the principles enunciated by the Court in the matter of awarding of death sentence and in such circumstances, the undisputed and indisputable fact that the appellant had no criminal antecedents and he hails from a poor socio-economic background and also his unblemished conduct inside the jail cannot go unnoticed. So also, it is a fact that at the time of commission of the offence the appellant was aged 25 years. 

Hence, viewing the issue taking into account the aforesaid aspects, the court did not find any reason to rule out the possibility and the probability of the reformation and rehabilitation of the appellant.

The court said that even while commuting capital punishment, the appellant has to be awarded life imprisonment without application of the provisions of premature release/remission for a substantial length of period. 

The court viewed that it would be just and proper to award punishment of imprisonment for life to the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC, by providing for an actual imprisonment for a period of 30 years without application of the provisions of premature release/remission.  

Case title: Veerendra v/s State of Madhya Pradesh

Citation: Criminal appeal nos.5 & 6 of 2018

Click here to read the Order/Judgment 

JurisHour
JurisHour
JurisHour is the fastest online portal for Indian legal news.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *