The Karnataka High Court, last week, commuted death penalty awarded to a man accused of rape and murder of an eight year old girl.
The High Court instead, sentenced the accused to undergo rigorous life imprisonment with a minimum period of 25 years without remission. The Trial Court had convicted and sentenced Saleem to death penalty finding him guilty of rape and murder of his sister's child.
Though the High Court affirmed the conviction, it observed that there are chances of reformation and accused is not a professional killer or offender having any criminal antecedent. The accused being a major having family with him, the possibility of reformation cannot be ruled out, the bench observed. Referring to the Apex Court judgments on the 'Rarest of Rare' test, the bench comprising Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice HP Sandesh observed:
Award of death sentence would be on the higher side which is disproportionate to the crime committed by the accused. This Court has to examine whether the society abhors such crimes and whether such crime shock the conscience of the society and attract intense and extreme indignation of the community. In the case on hand, he took the advantage of the victim being alone and committed the heinous offence. Hence, it would not come within the purview of rarest of rare cases. In the absence of any criminal antecedents and also in the absence of chances of not reforming, comparing the aggravating circumstances and also mitigating circumstances, the chances of reformation is not ruled out and there is a possibility of the same.
Adding that the imposition of life sentence would also not be adequate, the bench sentenced the accused to undergo rigorous life imprisonment with a minimum period of 25 years without remission for an offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC and to pay fine of Rs.1,00,000. The court also sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 10 years for the offence punishable under Section 376 of Indian Penal Code and to pay fine of Rs.10,000.
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