The young age of the victims does not justify the death penalty: SC

The Supreme Court has said that the young age of rape and murder victims cannot be the only reason for imposing the death penalty on the convict.

The highest court partially upheld the man’s appeal and commuted his death sentence for the rape and murder of a 5-year-old girl to life imprisonment.

In his decision, a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai relied on his previous verdict in the Shatrughna Baban Meshram case which analyzed 67 similar cases handled by him over the past 40 years.

“The data shows that the victim’s low age was not considered the only or sufficient factor by this court to pronounce a death sentence. If that were the case, then all, or nearly all, 67 cases would have resulted in the imposition of a death sentence on the accused, ”said Judge Khanna, who wrote the judgment on behalf of the judiciary. .

Out of 67 cases, at least in 51 cases, the victims were under 12 years old. In 12 of these 51 cases, the death penalty was initially imposed. But, in review, in 3 cases, the death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment.

The Supreme Court said that there is no doubt that the appellant, Irappa Siddappa Murgannavar, a resident of Gadag in Karnataka, has committed a heinous crime, but for this life imprisonment will serve as sufficient punishment and penance. for his actions.

“In the absence of any evidence to suggest that if allowed to live he poses a serious and serious threat to society, and life imprisonment, in our opinion, would also rule out such a threat.” We believe that there is hope for reform, rehabilitation, and therefore the option of life imprisonment is certainly not excluded and therefore acceptable, “said the judiciary.

The court said it was rightly pointed out by the convict’s lawyer that the trial court noticed that he was between 23 and 25 years old, from a very poor family, but did not. was not considered a mitigating circumstance.

“The High Court noted that there were no mitigating circumstances. We find this observation incorrect, ”said the bench.

In March 2017, the High Court of Karnataka upheld the decision of the court of first instance, imposing the death penalty on the convict of kidnapping, rape and murder of a five-year-old girl in the village of Khanapur. He later threw the victim’s body into a bag in a stream, named Bennihalla.

The court commuted the death penalty to life imprisonment by stipulating that the appellant would not be entitled to early release before he received an effective prison sentence of 30 years for the offense referred to in section 302 of the CPI. He also said that the sentences imposed would be carried out concurrently and not consecutively.

However, the ordinance would not affect the constitutional power of the president or governor to grant pardon, surrender, etc. under article 72 or 161 of the Constitution, taking into account the decision of the constitutional bench Union of India vs V Sriharan alias Murugan and others (Rajiv Gandhi convicted case), (2016), the court said.

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