When Second Conviction For Murder Would Warrant Imposition Of Death Sentence? Read SC Judgment

When Second Conviction For Murder Would Warrant Imposition Of Death Sentence? Read SC Judgment

“Like in many cases the intention seems to have been to severely injure or disfigure the deceased; in this case we think the intention resulted into an attack more severe than planned which then resulted in the death of the deceased.”

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, commuted death sentence awarded to a man convicted for murder of a women by pouring acid on her.

The bench comprising Justice SA Bobde, Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice R Subhash Reddy, observed that a second conviction for murder would warrant the imposition of a death sentence only if there is a pattern discernible across both the cases.

The bench upheld the conviction of the accused, but observed that there are no special reasons in the present case that warrants an imposition of a death sentence. The court also observed that there is no particular depravity or brutality in the acts of the accused that warrants a classification of this case as 'rarest of the rare'.

The bench noted that the accused had committed this crime when he was out on bail in another case wherein he has been convicted for murder and his sentence has been upheld. It said that, normally this factor might warrant the imposition of the death sentence.

"It is undoubtedly difficult to ignore this fact but we find that it is safer to consider the imposition of sentence based on the facts of this particular case. Unquestionably, if there is a pattern discernible across both the cases then a second conviction for murder would warrant the imposition of a death sentence. But that does not appear to be so in the present case. The earlier incident is totally unrelated to the circumstance of this case", the bench said.

"The appellant was charged along with co-accused one Kiran Nurse for committing the murder of one Laxminarayan alias Laxman Singh in the intervening night of 27.07.1994 and 28.07.1994. The present incident took place on 21.07.2013 and the last one almost ten years before the present incident", the court added.

Commuting the death sentence, the court further said: "The circumstance of the case and particularly the choice of acid do not disclose a cold-blooded plan to murder the deceased. Like in many cases the intention seems to have been to severely injure or disfigure the deceased; in this case we think the intention resulted into an attack more severe than planned which then resulted in the death of the deceased. It is possible that what was premeditated was an injury and not death. We have not made the above observation in any way to condone the acts of the appellant but merely to hold that there appear to be no special reasons in the present case that warrants an imposition of a death sentence."

The bench then altered the sentence to life imprisonment.

Read Judgment