Rape, Murder Victims’ Age Insufficient For Death Penalty: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court has directed that the punishments be carried out simultaneously and not continuously.

New Delhi:

In cases of rape and murder, underage victims are not considered “the only or sufficient reason for this court to impose the death penalty,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling, analyzing 67 similar cases handled by it. In the last 40 years.

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The apex court’s key observation came on the appeal of Irappa Siddappa who was convicted and sentenced to death by a trial court. The Karnataka High Court upheld the trial court’s decision on March 6, 2017.

In 2010, a five-year-old girl was convicted of abduction, rape and murder in the village of Khanapur in Karnataka, and after the incident, she dumped the victim’s body in a bag into a stream, named Benihalla.

A bench comprising Justice L Nageshwar Rao, Sanjeev Khanna and BR Gavai confirmed the conviction of Siddappa for the offenses including rape, murder and destruction of evidence, but quashed the death sentence, which was handed down by the lower court, including the minor. The age of the victim, and it has been commuted to life imprisonment for a period of 30 years.

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“We have found sufficient grounds for commutation of the death sentence imposed by the Sessions Court and life imprisonment has been confirmed by the High Court, with the instruction that the appellant under section 302 (not entitled to premature release / acquittal for offenses under it) be valid for at least thirty years.” Murder of this code until imprisonment, “said Justice Khanna for the bench.

This further indicates that the sentences will run simultaneously and not consistently.

The apex court has largely dealt with arguments based on the juvenile age of the victims in rape-and-murder cases and cited the apex court’s judgment in the Shatrughna Baban Meshram case which surveyed 67 Supreme Court judgments in the previous 40 years.

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In these judgments, the death penalty was imposed by the trial court or the High Court for an offense under Sections 376 (rape) and 302 (murder) of the IPC, and where the victim was under 16 years of age, the apex court. Says

“Out of these 67 cases, the court has upheld the death sentence of the accused in 15 cases.

“Out of the remaining 12 cases, in two cases …, the death sentence was upheld by this court and the review petitions were dismissed. Thus, to date, the death penalty has been confirmed in 12 of the 67 cases where major offenses were committed under sections 376 and 302 of the IPC and where the victims were about 16 years of age or younger, ”it says.

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Of the 67 cases, at least 51 involved victims under the age of 12, with the death penalty being commuted to life imprisonment in three cases.

“It appears from the above information that the age of the victim was not considered by this court as the sole or sufficient reason for the execution. If it had, all, or almost all, of the 67 cases would have ended with the death penalty for the accused, “the apex court said.

It cites various judgments and states that although such an offense was despicable and required condemnation, it is “not uncommon for the appellant to be eliminated from society.”

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The state government has shown nothing to prove the possibility that the guilty person will act as a continuing threat to society and his behavior in prison has been described as satisfactory, it said.

“There is no doubt that the appellant has committed a heinous crime, and for this we believe that life imprisonment will serve as sufficient punishment and remorse for his actions, in the absence of any element of belief that he is allowed to survive if he asserts. “Serious and serious threats, and in our opinion, life imprisonment will also protect against such threats. We believe that there is hope for reform, rehabilitation and thus the option of life imprisonment must not be predicted and therefore acceptable,” the bench said.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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