Absence Of Active Participation In Multiple Murders, A Factor To Not Award Death Penalty; SC Commutes Death Penalty In Yet Another Case

Absence Of Active Participation In Multiple Murders, A Factor To Not Award Death Penalty; SC Commutes Death Penalty In Yet Another Case


We are of the view that so far as the sentence is concerned, the aforesaid fact i.e. absence of any active participation should go into the judicial determination of the question of appropriate punishment, the Bench observed.


The Supreme Court Bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit might have made a unique record in awarding maximum number of commutation of death penalty in a single month. In this month itself, the Bench has commuted death penalty in three cases involving murder and rape, acquitted an accused of murder charges and thereby set aside the death penalty, and acquitted another accused of murdering his wife and five minor children.

Another Bench headed by Justice J. Chelameswar had commuted death penalty in another rape-cum-murder case. In other words, six convicts escaped gallows this month due to commutations/acquittal by the apex court.

Live Law has accessed yet another order by the Bench commuting death penalty of one Ghulam Mohi-Ud-Din Wani from Jammu and Kashmir. The Bench in Ghulam Mohi-Ud-Din Wani vs. State of Jammu & Kashmir has made an important observation that the absence of active participation in murder should go into the judicial determination of the question of appropriate punishment.

Ghulam was convicted for his involvement in the death of one Mohd. Yousuf Ganai and his family members, and also for the murder of one Mohd. Ishaq Bhat. The trial court order of sentencing the accused to death was affirmed by Madhya Pradesh High Court.

Setting aside the death penalty and sentencing him to life imprisonment, the apex court observed that the absence of any active participation should go into the judicial determination of the question of appropriate punishment. The Bench observed that no active participation in respect of first incident in which four deaths had occurred can be attributed to the accused, though his conviction under Section 302 with the aid of Section 34 of the RPC cannot be faulted. Regarding the second incident, the Bench observed that the ends of justice would be met if the death penalty is commuted to one of life imprisonment.

Read the order here.