‘Though we have noticed above that the possibility of reform of the accused is not completely precluded, we nevertheless share the concerns of the Trial Court and the High Court regarding the lack of remorse on behalf of the appellant and the possibility of reoffending.’
While commuting a death sentence awarded to a rape and murder accused, the Supreme Court has observed that lack of remorse by him after committing the crime and during the hearing does not in any way indicate that there is no scope of his reform.
The bench comprising Justice NV Ramana, Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Justice Hemant Gupta was considering an appeal filed by Viran Gyanlal Rajput who was sentenced to death by the trial court, for kidnapping, rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl and causing the disappearance of evidence. The Bombay High Court had confirmed the death sentence dismissing his appeal.
The bench disagreed with the contentions raised by Senior Advocate V Giri, challenging the conviction recorded in this case.
On sentence, it said: “Undoubtedly, the Courts were correct in giving weight to the dastardly nature and manner of the crime, i.e. kidnapping a girl of the tender age of 13 years, taking her to a secluded area and committing the act of rape and subsequently murdering her by strangulation and burying her body in a field, having disrobed her completely, and also in giving weight to the youth and helplessness of the victim, and to the fact that the appellant proceeded to target her to satisfy his lust.”
However, the bench said, though the crime committed is of an abominable nature, it cannot be said to be of such a brutal, depraved, heinous or diabolical nature so as to fall into the category of the rarest of rare cases and invite punishment with death. “We also find ourselves unable to agree with the view of the Courts that the appellant is such a menace to society that he cannot be allowed to stay alive,” it added.
The court also took note of his young age and lack of criminal antecedents, and said: “Although the Trial Court noted his lack of remorse during the hearing, and the High Court noted his lack of remorse after committing the crime, as he was found calmly wandering around the locality, this does not in any way indicate that there is no scope of reform for the appellant.”
Commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment without remission for 20 years, the bench added: “Moreover, though we have noticed above that the possibility of reform of the accused is not completely precluded, we nevertheless share the concerns of the Trial Court and the High Court regarding the lack of remorse on behalf of the appellant and the possibility of reoffending. In such a situation, we deem it fit to restrict the right of the appellant to claim remission in his sentence of life imprisonment for a period of 20 years.”