Supreme Court on Friday commuted Death Sentence of a 21 year old convict who committed Attempt to Rape and Murder to Life Imprisonment citing the young age and possibilities of reformation.
A bench comprising of Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya and Justice A.K. Patnaik was dealing with an appeal filed by a convict in an Attempt to Rape cum Murder Case.
On a fateful day, 23-02-2004, a girl of 18 years age was brutally attempted to rape and killed by the convict, Lalit Kumar Yadav. Trial Court found the accused guilty under Sections 302 and 376 read with Section 511 of the I.P.C. and then sentenced him to death for the offence under Section 302 I.P.C. and 5 years rigorous imprisonment for the offence under Section 376 read with Section 511 of the IPC.
Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court dismissed the appeal preferred by the convict against the conviction and answered the reference affirming the death sentence imposed by the Trial Court for the offence committed under Section 302 IPC for having committed murder of the girl. The High Court also affirmed the conviction and sentence passed against the appellant under Section 376 read with Section 511 of Indian Penal Code for having made an attempt to commit rape on the girl and sentenced him to undergo five years Rigorous Imprisonment.
Convict preferred appeal before the Supreme Court in which he challenged the reliability of prosecution evidences and also prayed to commute his death sentence.
The Bench heavily relied upon the Constitution Bench decision and guidelines indicated in Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab. Bench also relied upon Santosh Kumar Satishbhushan Bariyar v. State of Maharashtra in which Court held that the nature, motive, impact of a crime, culpability, quality of evidence, socio-economic circumstances, impossibility of rehabilitation are the factors which the court may take into consideration while dealing with cases involving Death Penalty.
The Court has considered different parameters as laid down in Bachan Singh followed by Machhi Singh and balance the mitigating circumstances against the need for imposition of capital punishment and observed as follows
"Circumstantial evidence comes to only one conclusion that appellant attempted to commit rape and because of resistance he committed the murder of the deceased. The appellant was aged about 21 years at the time of offence. Initially when the matter for confirmation of death sentence was heard by the two learned Judges of the High Court there was a divided opinion, one Judge confirmed the death sentence while the other acquitted the appellant. It is the other Bench which affirmed the death sentence. It is not the case of the Prosecution that the appellant cannot be reformed. In fact the possibility of his reformation cannot be ruled out. There is no criminal antecedent of the appellant".
Bench, considering the age of the accused, felt that the possibility of reforming the accused cannot be ruled out. "Convict cannot be termed as social menace. Further, the case does not fall under the "rarest of rare" category", Court Said.
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