18 Oct 2022 2:03 PM GMT
The Allahabad High Court recently commuted the death penalty awarded to a rape and murder convict by the trial court to life imprisonment as it noted that the convict was of 20 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime in 2013 and now when he is around 29 year old, he has dependents in the form of wife and children."Convict/appellant was of 20 years of age at the time of...
The Allahabad High Court recently commuted the death penalty awarded to a rape and murder convict by the trial court to life imprisonment as it noted that the convict was of 20 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime in 2013 and now when he is around 29 year old, he has dependents in the form of wife and children.
"Convict/appellant was of 20 years of age at the time of the commission of crime now he has dependents in the form of wife and children. There is no evidence that the accused committed the crime with pre-planning or pre-ponderance. There is no evidence on record that there is no possibility of improvement in the conduct of the accused. No such evidence is adduced in the trial court that the accused is a hardened criminal. No criminal history of the appellant is stated during the trial," the bench of Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Renu Agarwal as it affirmed the conviction of the appellant while setting aside the death penalty of the appellant awarded by the trial court and converting the same to Life Term.
The Court was essentially dealing with a capital reference as well as the criminal appeal filed by one Govind Pasi who was awarded the death penalty by Additional Sessions Judge, F.T.C.-I, Faizabad in May 2018 for raping and killing a 10-year-old girl.
The case in brief
An FIR was lodged by the complainant (one Jamuna Prasad) on January 29, 2013, that his niece aged about 10 years (victim) went to school but did not return. On search, the dead body of deceased/victim 'X' was found in the field at about 7:30 p.m. Her scarf was wrapped around her neck.
The name of the convict came to light during the investigation. The Investigating Officer collected pieces of evidence against the convict and filed the charge sheet in Court. The Trial court found that the accused was guilty of offence under Section 376, 302 IPC. He was sentenced to the death penalty.
High Court's observations
At the outset, the Court took into account the facts, circumstances, and evidence adduced in the case to observe that the prosecution had been able to prove the fact that the victim was last seen with the accused.
The Court also noted that the chain of circumstances was also closely related and proved that the victim was going to school and the accused was near the field of one Shri Pal and when the deceased 'X' reached the field, the convict lifted her in her arms and moved towards the filed and thereafter, she was found dead in the field of Shripal.
"...the prosecution established a complete chain which leads to the conclusion that only convicted appellant can commit the alleged crime and none other than the convicted appellant can be suspected to have committed this crime similarly every hypothesis suggesting innocence of appellant is ruled out by such evidence and the irresistible inference which follows is his guilt," the Court remarked as it upheld the conviction order of the Trial Court.
Now, regarding the question of the death sentence awarded to the convict, the Court said that capital punishment has been the subject matter of great social and judicial discussion and catechism. It was further observed by HC that it is the duty of the Court to examine each case on its facts, and before awarding the death penalty, the circumstances of the offender are also required to be taken into consideration.
The HC further noted that the trial court had taken into account the fact that an innocent child of 10 years who was living alone with her maternal grandparents (Nana and Nani) and her parents were living in Delhi for the livelihood of the family was raped and murdered by the convict and therefore, he was liable to be awarded death penalty.
However, the Court, opined that it was required to be noted that though the convict had committed a crime that is abominable, vicious, and ferocious in nature and has caused a scar on society, however, it must also be considered the convict was of 20 years of age at the time of the commission of crime now he has dependents in the form of wife and children.
The Court also noted that there was no evidence that the accused had committed the crime with pre-planning or pre-ponderance and also, there was no evidence on record that there was no possibility of improvement in the conduct of the accused.
In view of this, the Court held that the instant case did not fall in the category of rarest of rare cases warranting capital punishment and therefore, the Court concluded that the death sentence awarded to the convict under Section 302 IPC was liable to be commuted into life imprisonment.
Consequently, the Criminal Appeal was partly allowed and the reference for confirmation of the death penalty was rejected and was accordingly rejected.
Case title - State of U.P. v. Govind Pasi along with a connected appeal
Case citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 468
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