The Supreme Court commuted death penalty of a kidnap cum murder convict, who was just 22 years of age at the time of occurrence. The bench comprising of Justice AK Sikri, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice MR Shah, particularly took note of the poems written by Dnyaneshwar while he was in jail and observed that these poems show that he has realised his mistake and has reformed.
Dnyaneshwar was convicted and sentenced to capital punishment under Sections 302, 364 and Section 201 read with Section 34 of the IPC for murdering a minor child named 'Rishikesh'.
Before the Apex Court, Senior Advocate Anand Grover brought to the notice of the bench the poems written by the accused in the jail and submitted that it reflects his current state of mind and that he has realized the mistake committed by him at the time when he was just 22 years of age and that he is reformative. During the span of 18 years in the jail, not only he has learned a lesson but he has realized the mistake committed by him and he has tried to become a civilized person and that he has completed his graduation in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and has also undergone training of Gandhian thoughts undertaken by Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, the Court was told.
The bench then considered the following mitigating circumstances in his favour, to commute the death sentence:
"The accused at the time of commission of the offence was aged of 22 years; that, by now,
he has spent 18 years in the jail; that, while in jail, his conduct is good;
that, the accused has tried to join the society and has tried to become a civilized man and has completed his graduation in B.A. from jail.
He has tried to become reformative;
that, from the poems, written by him in the jail, it appears that he has realised his mistake which was committed by him at the time when he was of young age and
that he is reformative; therefore the appellant can be reformed and rehabilitated."
The bench observed that these factors show there is a possibility he would not commit similar criminal acts and would not be a continuing threat to the society. "It is required to be noted that the accused was not a previous convict or a professional killer. At the time of commission of offence, he was 22 years of age. His jail conduct is also reported to be good." the bench added.
"We have considered each of the circumstance and the crime as well as the facts leading to the commission of the crime by the accused. Though, we acknowledge the gravity of the offence, we are unable to satisfy ourselves that this case would fall in the category of 'rarest of rare case' warranting the death sentence. The offence committed, undoubtedly, can be said to be brutal, but does not warrant death sentence. It is required to be noted that the accused was not a previous convict or a professional killer".