'Probability Of Reformation & Rehabilitation': Supreme Court Commutes Death Sentence Of Man Convicted Of Rape & Murder Of 11 Year Old Girl
The Supreme Court commuted death sentence awarded on a man convicted of rape and murder of eleven year old girl.The court, however, took into account 'the barbaric and savage manner in which the offences of rape and murder were committed', sentenced him to life imprisonment for a period of 30 years during which he shall not be granted remission.Bhagwani was convicted and sentenced to death by...
The Supreme Court commuted death sentence awarded on a man convicted of rape and murder of eleven year old girl.
The court, however, took into account 'the barbaric and savage manner in which the offences of rape and murder were committed', sentenced him to life imprisonment for a period of 30 years during which he shall not be granted remission.
Bhagwani was convicted and sentenced to death by the Trial Court under Sections 363, 366A, 364, 346, 376D, 376A, 302, 201 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 5(g) (m) read with Section 6 of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. The Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissed the appeal filed by him and confirmed the death sentence.
The Apex Court bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna, which considered the appeals filed by the convict, also upheld the conviction. Regarding the death sentence imposed, the court noticed that the order of conviction and sentence was passed on the same day. Regarding this, the bench observed thus:
It is travesty of justice as the Appellant was not given a fair opportunity to defend himself. This is a classic case indicating the disturbing tendency of Trial Courts adjudicating criminal cases involving rape and murder in haste. It is trite law that an accused is entitled for a fair trial which is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In respect of the order of conviction and sentence being passed on the same day, the object and purpose of Section 235 (2) CrPC is that the accused must be given an opportunity to make a representation against the sentence to be imposed on him. A bifurcated hearing for convicting and sentencing is necessary to provide an effective opportunity to the accused . Adequate opportunity to produce relevant material on the question of death sentence shall be provided to the accused by the Trial Court .
The bench then observed that mitigating circumstances and the probability of reformation and rehabilitation of the accused have not been considered by the High Court/Trial Court. Partly allowing the appeal, the bench observed:
"The Appellant was aged 25 years on the date of commission of the offence and belongs to a Scheduled Tribes community, eking his livelihood by doing manual labour. No evidence has been placed by the prosecution on record to show that there is no probability of rehabilitation and reformation of the Appellant and the question of an alternative option to death sentence is foreclosed. The Appellant had no criminal antecedents before the commission of crime for which he has been convicted. There is nothing adverse that has been reported against his conduct in jail. Therefore, the death sentence requires to be commuted to life imprisonment. However, taking into account the barbaric and savage manner in which the offences of rape and murder were committed by the Appellant on a hapless 11 year old girl, the Appellant is sentenced to life imprisonment for a period of 30 years during which he shall not be granted remission.
Bhagwani vs State of Madhya Pradesh
2022 LiveLaw (SC) 60
CrA 101-102 of 2022 | 18 Jan 2022
Justices L. Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna
Adv Shri Singh for appellant, Dy. AG Ankita Chaudhary for state