SC commutes rape convict’s death sentence to life term

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SC commutes rape convict’s death sentence to life term
 
New Delhi:  The Supreme Court, commuting to life term the death sentence awarded to a man convicted for raping and murdering a two-and-a-half-year-old girl in 2013 in Maharashtra, said the accused does not deserve death penalty for the offence.

A bench comprising Justices UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and Krishna Murari said: “While considering the appropriate punishment for the offence under Section 302 IPC, in view of the fact that Section 376A IPC was brought on the statute book just few days before the commission of the offence, the appellant does not deserve death penalty for said offence.”

Therefore, this section did not have the retrospective effect on the case, which was registered on February 11, 2013 and the section was given retrospective effect from February 3, 2013.

The bench said it is true the sexual assault was very severe and the conduct of the accused could be termed as perverse and barbaric.

However, a definite pointer in favour of the accused is the fact that he did not consciously cause any injury with the intent to extinguish the life of the victim, noted the top court.

The bench upheld the view taken by the trial court and the High Court in convicting the accused, who was a maternal uncle of the victim, but commuted the sentence to 25 years rigorous imprisonment.

The bench noted that the top court dealt with about 67 cases in last 40 years where the offences were of rape and murder and age of the victims were 16 years or below.

“Out of these 67 cases, this Court affirmed the award of death sentence to the accused in 15 cases”, noted the bench. Justifying its decision in the case, the bench said: “Out of these 67 cases, at least in 51 cases the victims were aged below 12 years. In 12 out of those 51 cases, the death sentence was initially awarded. However, in 3 cases the death sentence was commuted to life sentence in Review.”

In 2 out of these 67 cases, the offences were committed on February 23, 2015 and May 22, 2015 respectively, after the Amendment Act received the assent of the President and was published on April 2, 2013 (but given retrospective effect from February 3, 2013).

The top court delivered the verdict on an appeal filed by the accused challenging the 2015 Bombay High Court verdict, which confirmed the death sentence awarded by a trial court.

The accused had claimed that he was being falsely implicated in the case. In February 2013, the FIR was registered by victim’s father.

“The circumstances on record rule out any hypothesis of innocence of the Appellant. The circumstances are clear, consistent and conclusive in nature and are of unimpeachable character in establishing the guilt of the Appellant,” noted the top court.

 


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