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SC Refuses To ‘Review’ Death Penalty On Man Who Raped 4-Yr-Old Child [Read Judgment]

Ashok KM
3 May 2017 1:57 PM GMT
SC Refuses To ‘Review’ Death Penalty On Man Who Raped 4-Yr-Old Child [Read Judgment]
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Cumulative effect of the mitigating circumstances on one hand and the aggravating facts on the other, would be weighed for the ‘rarest of rare’ test, it said

The Supreme Court has refused to review the death penalty awarded to a man found guilty of raping a 4-year-old kid.

A three-judge bench, comprising Justice Dipak Misra, Justice RF Nariman and Justice UU Lalit, dismissed the review petition filed by Vasanta Sampat Dupare against dismissal of the appeal against confirmation of death penalty by the high court.

Vasanta Sampat Dupare had approached the Supreme Court after the high court confirmed the death sentence awarded to him by additional sessions judge, Nagpur, for raping and causing death of a 4-year-old girl.

As the apex court also dismissed his appeal and upheld the death sentence imposed, he preferred review petition, mainly urging a conversion to life imprisonment.

In the review proceedings, some materials with regard to the case were brought to the attention of the court with regard to possibility of the accused being reformed and rehabilitated.

But the court observed that the aggravating circumstances, namely extreme depravity and the barbaric manner in which the crime was committed and the fact that the victim was a helpless girl of four years, clearly outweigh the mitigating circumstances now brought on record.

In Bachan Singh case, it was held that the following two circumstances “(3) the probability that the accused would not commit criminal acts of violence as would constitute a continuing threat to society. (4) The probability that the accused can be reformed and rehabilitated” shall be taken into account while imposing the sentence.

Referring to the Bachan Singh case, it was contended before the review court that “the probability that the accused can be reformed” was an important facet and the burden was on the state to prove by evidence that the accused could not possibly be reformed and as the burden was not discharged by the state and no evidence was led, no death sentence could be awarded or confirmed.

But the court, refusing to accept such an interpretation, observed that those circumstances would certainly be relevant and great weight be attached to them, but it was the cumulative effect of the mitigating circumstances on one hand and the aggravating facts on the other, which would be weighed to come to the final conclusion whether the case satisfied the requirement of being “rarest of rare”.

“It is not as if mere failure on part of the State to lead such evidence would clinch the issue in favour of the accused,” the bench said.

Referring to other judgments viz. Ramnaresh & Ors vs State of Chhattisgarh, Rajesh Kumar vs State through Government of NCT of Delhi, the court said following principles need to be taken note of while deciding the sentence:

  • The court would consider the cumulative effect of both the aspects (namely aggravating factors as well as mitigating circumstances) and it may not be very appropriate for the court to decide the most significant aspect of sentencing policy with reference to one of the classes completely ignoring other classes under other heads and it is the primary duty of the court to balance the two.

  • It is always preferred not to fetter the judicial discretion by attempting to make excessive enumeration, in one way or another; and that both aspects - namely aggravating and mitigating circumstances - have to be given their respective weightage and that the Court has to strike the balance between the two and see towards which side the scale/balance of justice tilts.

Read the Judgment here.

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