The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice in a writ petition challenging the constitutionality of section 376DB of IPC, 1860 to the extent that it prescribes minimum mandatory sentence of life imprisonment till natural life.
Introduced in the year 2018, Section 376DB prescribes that if a person is convicted of gang rape of a minor girl , who is less than 12 years of age, then the court has no option, but to impose the aforesaid sentence or the higher sentence of death sentence.
The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant in their order said,
"The petitioner has been convicted of offense punishable u/s 376 DB, IPC & has been sentenced to suffer the remainder of his natural life. Having regards to the finding, there is no merit in the challenge to the conviction. On the sentence which the leg has been prescribed, Mr Gaurav Agrawal has placed on record Writ Petition under Article 32 of the constitution which challenges the imposition for imprisonment of the remainder of the natural life. Notice shall be issued to AG on the constitutional challenge on the sentence which has been imposed."
The petition was preferred by an accused who has been convicted u/s 376DB of IPC and has been awarded a sentence of minimum mandatory life sentence which would last till petitioner's natural life.
It was argued in the plea that prescription of such life sentence for the offence under Section 376DB is unconstitutional, interalia for the reason that it completely takes away the chance of reformation of the individual.
"Reformation is one of the important aspects of sentencing jurisprudence of this country. Large number of judgments have shown that even in cases of rape and murder of minor girl, this Hon'ble Court has accepted the fact that there is chance of reformation of the convict and commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment and in most cases, it provided minimum term of imprisonment of 20 years/ 25 years/ 30 years," plea stated.
It was also stated in the petition filed by Advocate Gaurav Agrawal that life sentence for natural life could be a very long sentence of even 40 years or 50 years of imprisonment [or even more] and thus the said sentence is totally disproportionate to the nature of offence which was alleged against the convict.
Case Title: Nikhil Shivaji Golait v Union of India & Anr