The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice N.V. Ramana rapped Rajasthan High Court for directing the State for giving remission to a rapist and came down heavily on the Public Prosecutor for adopting a "casual approach" and made a concession.
According to the Bench, "When the appropriate Government commutes the sentence, it does so in exercise of its sovereign powers. The court cannot direct the appropriate Government to exercise its sovereign powers. The Court can merely give a direction to the appropriate Government to consider the case for commutation of sentence and nothing more."
The Bench observed that the High Court erred in giving a direction to the State Government to commute the sentence of the respondent. "It could have only directed the State Government to consider the respondent's case for commutation of sentence. In any case, assuming the High Court could have given such a direction, since it was dealing with a conviction under Section 376 of the IPC, it should have noted the extra-ordinary circumstances, if any, which persuaded it to give such a direction. Unfortunately, the High Court merely noted the request made by the counsel for the respondent and concession made by the State counsel," the Bench observed.
"If the High Court felt that the prosecution case was extremely weak and the respondent deserved to be acquitted, it should have discussed the evidence and acquitted him. But, it could not have adopted such a course," it added.
The respondent, Mohammad Muslim Tagala was tried along with two others, Sabena and Mohd. Daud, by the Additional District and Sessions Judge for offences punishable under Sections 363, 366, 376, 307 read with Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code. The other two were acquitted of all the charges.
In the appeal filed in the Rajasthan High Court, it directed the concerned authorities to give the convicted, benefit of Section 433 of the Code. State of Rajasthan then filed the appeal before Rajasthan High Court.
The State had challenged the impugned order on the ground that the offence committed by the respondent was grave and, therefore, the High Court erred in giving a direction to the authorities to give benefit of Section 433 of the Code to the respondent.
The respondent has undergone seven years' imprisonment and has been released from custody.
The Counsel had submitted that though the High Court gave a direction to the concerned authorities to give the respondent benefit of commutation of sentence under Section 433 of the Code, the said benefit was not given. Since the respondent has been released from jail after serving the sentence imposed on him and no steps were taken by the concerned authorities pursuant to the direction given by the High Court, to give the respondent benefit under Section 433 of the Code, the present appeal had actually become infructuous.
Commenting on the approach adopted by the Public Prosecutor, the Court asserted, "The Public Prosecutor plays a very important role in a criminal case. It is distressing to note that in such a serious case, the Public Prosecutor should have shown such a casual approach."