A tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye ought not to be the criterion to clothe a case with ‘rarest of the rare’ jacket: SC

A tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye ought not to be the criterion to clothe a case with ‘rarest of the rare’ jacket: SC

Commuting the death sentence of a convict to life imprisonment, a three judge Bench of the Supreme Court held that, “In a civilized society — a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye ought not to be the criterion to clothe a case with ‘rarest of the rare’ jacket and the Courts must not be propelled by such notions in a haste resorting to capital punishment.”

The Bench comprising of Justices H L Dattu, S J Mukhopadhaya and M Y Eqbal said, “Our criminal jurisprudence cautions the courts of law to act with utmost responsibility by analyzing the finest strands of the matter and it is in that perspective a reasonable proportion has to be maintained between the brutality of the crime and the punishment. It falls squarely upon the Court to award the sentence having due regard to the nature of offence such that neither is the punishment disproportionately severe nor is it manifestly inadequate, as either case would not sub-serve the cause of justice to the society. In jurisprudential terms, an individual’s right of not to be subjected to cruel, arbitrary or excessive punishment cannot be outweighed by the utilitarian value of that punishment.”

The Bench was hearing a criminal appeal filed against the judgment of Madhya Pradesh High Court which confirmed the death sentence awarded to the appellant, for murdering his grandson ,daughter-in-law and nephew.

The Bench further observed that, “A deliberately planned crime, executed meticulously in a diabolic  manner, exhibiting inhuman conduct in a ghastly manner, touching the conscience of everyone and thereby disturbing the moral fiber of society would call for imposition of capital punishment in order to ensure that it acts as a deterrent. The number of deaths or the factum of whole family being wiped off cannot be the sole criteria for determining whether the case falls into the category of ‘rarest  of rare’.”

Advocate Vijay Kumar appeared for the appellant-accused and Senior Advocate, Vibha Dutta Makhija, appeared for the respondent-State.