16 Aug 2023 4:15 AM GMT
The Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur Bench, has commuted the death sentence of a man convicted for rape and murder of a 4.5 years old girl, to life imprisonment. Considering the mitigating circumstances, the Court held that the convict is not a menace to society.The bench comprising Justice Pankaj Bhandari and Justice Bhuwan Goyal noted that the mitigating circumstances in favour of the Convict...
The Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur Bench, has commuted the death sentence of a man convicted for rape and murder of a 4.5 years old girl, to life imprisonment. Considering the mitigating circumstances, the Court held that the convict is not a menace to society.
The bench comprising Justice Pankaj Bhandari and Justice Bhuwan Goyal noted that the mitigating circumstances in favour of the Convict were his young age, his family consisting of a year old daughter and a wife, no criminal antecedents, no pre-meditated murder and no uncomplimentary behaviour in custody.
In 2021, a missing report was filed by the father of a girl aged about four and a half years. The dead body of the missing girl was recovered from a pond. It was found that she was raped and drowned in the pond by Suresh Kumar ("Accused/Appellant"). On the informer’s feedback, the police arrested the Accused.
In 2022, the Trial Court convicted the Accused for offences under Sections 363, 302 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 ("IPC") and Section 5(M)/6 of the POCSO Act. In alternate, Section 376(AB) of IPC and Section 84 of Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015 ("JJ Act").
For the offence under Section 5(M)/6 of the POCSO Act and Section 302 IPC, the Accused was awarded death penalty along with fine. For the offence under Section 84 of JJ Act, 2015, the Accused was sentenced to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment along with fine. Lastly, for offence under Section 201 IPC, he was sentenced to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment along with fine.
The Accused filed an appeal before the High Court.
HIGH COURT VERDICT
The Court upheld the conviction of the Accused while observing that, "it is established that the accused after committing the gruesome offence of rape and sodomy, drowned the child, who was four and a half year old, as a result of which she died.”
The Court noted that all incriminating circumstances have been proved against the accused by reliable evidence. A complete chain of circumstances pointing towards the guilt of the accused has been formed.
However, on the point of award of death sentence to the Accused, the Court deferred from the view taken by the Trial Court.
The Court placed reliance on the judgment of Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1980) 2 SCC 684, wherein it was held that life imprisonment is the rule and Death Sentence is an exception. It was observed that the mitigating circumstances in favour of the accused are:
"(i) the age of the accused, as he was aged 23 years at the time of the alleged offence;
(ii) the accused appellant is having a girl child who was one year old at the time of the alleged incident and he also has a wife;
(iii) the accused is not having any criminal antecedents;
(iv) the murder was not pre-meditated and
(v) his behaviour in custody was not uncomplimentary and
so, it cannot be said that he would be a menace to the society."
The death sentence awarded to the accused has been set aside and commuted to life imprisonment of full natural life. The Court has held that the case does not fall in 'rarest of rare' category.
“Considering the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the present case and in the light of the law laid down by the Apex court, in our view, this case does not fall within the category of ‘rarest of rare case’ and therefore, we commute the death penalty to that of life imprisonment, which shall extend to the full natural life of the appellant but subject to any remission or commutation at the instance of the government for good and sufficient reasons,” the Court held.
Case Title: Suresh Kumar v State of Rajasthan
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Raj) 77
Case No.: D.B. Criminal Appeal (DB) No. 48/2022
Counsel for Accused: Mr. Mahendra Kumar and Mr. Mohan Choudhary
Counsel for State: Mr. Javed Choudhary, Addl.G.A.
Counsel for Complainant: Mr. Fahad Hasan with Mr. Amaan Ahmed Ali
Click Here to Read/Download Judgment