For the persons convicted of murder, life imprisonment is a rule and death sentence are an exception.
|Case name:||Nand Kishore v. State of Madhya Pradesh|
|Case number:||Criminal Appeal No. 94 Of 2019|
|Court:||Supreme Court of India|
|Bench:||Hon’ble Chief Justice of India S. A. Bobde Hon’ble Justice L. Nageswara Rao Hon’ble Justice R. Subhash Reddy|
|Decided on:||Janaury 18th, 2019|
|Relevant Act/Sections:||Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Sec. 302, 363, 366, 376); Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 ( Sec. 354(3), 235, 366), Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (Sec. 5 and 6)|
- BRIEF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
- A minor girl (deceased) aged about 8 years, had gone to attend the ‘Mela’ along with her younger brother namely Chhunu on 03.02.2013. The appellant who is aged about 50 years then, took away the deceased from the ‘Mela’ and committed rape and murdered her.
- Narendra informed the police stating that his daughter, who had gone to attend the ‘Mela’, has not returned home. Upon such complaint, case was registered and investigation commenced. In the course of investigation one Amit Mourya informed the Investigating Officer that when he was coming to his shop from residence, he saw a dog running away with a leg of a child in its mouth and on being chased, the dog dropped the leg and ran away.
- Investigating Officer found a headless body of the deceased in the bushes near the ‘Dushera Maidan’, Bhopal.
- It was alleged that the left leg of the deceased was found at a distance of 100 ft. and both legs were fractured. Further, it was noticed that there were severe injuries on the private parts of the deceased inflicted by the appellant due to which the intestine had come out.
- During the process of investigation the statement of the appellant was recorded and the blood stained cloths and articles he used for the offence were recovered from his house.
- Procedural history:-
- After completing the investigation, the appellant was charge sheeted for the offence punishable under Sections 363,366, 376(2)(i) and 302 of the IPC and Sections 5 and 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
- The trial court, after appreciation of the evidence on record, which is mainly circumstantial, came to the conclusion that the appellant has committed rape on the minor girl and murdered her and further, by recording a finding that the crime committed by the appellant is heinous and barbaric, falls within the category of ‘rarest of rare’ cases, imposed the death sentence.
- The appellant is also convicted and sentenced for the offence punishable under Sections 363, 366, 376(2)(i) of the IPC.
- In view of the award of death sentence, the trial court has made a reference to the High Court for confirmation, as contemplated under Section 366 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- This criminal appeal was filed by the appellant in before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Jabalpur, aggrieved by the judgment dated 25.06.2013. The High Court answered the reference in affirmative by confirming the death sentence awarded to the appellant.
- ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT:
- Whether the case at hand is one of the ‘rarest of rare case’ to impose death penalty?
- RATIO OF THE COURT
- So far as the conviction is concerned, the court was satisfied with the findings recorded by the trial court which are based on the appreciation of oral and documentary evidence on record.
- It was upheld that for the persons convicted of murder, life imprisonment is a rule and death sentence is an exception, as observed by a Constitution Bench of this Court in case of Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab and contrary to the ratio laid down in the aforesaid judgment, the focus was on the crime alone though it is the duty of the courts to pay heed to the circumstances of the crime as well as the criminal.
- The Court cited the cases of Neel Kumar v. State of Haryana and Selvam v. State, in these cases rape and murder of a minor occurred, while confirming the conviction, this Court, on the facts and circumstances of the case and having regard to the evidence on record, has modified the death sentence with award of life imprisonment and directed that the accused must serve a minimum of 30 years of jail without remission.
- Similarly, the Court stated the case of Tattu Lodhi v. State of Madhya Pradesh, a case involving kidnapping of minor girl aged about 7 years and attempt to rape and murder, in the facts of the case and the evidence on record, death sentence was modified to imprisonment for life with a direction not to release the accused from prison till he completes actual period of 25 years of imprisonment.
- The Court quoted a case Anil v. State of Maharashtra involving murder of a 10 year old boy who was subjected to carnal intercourse, this Court has held as “A legislative policy is that when special reasons do exist, as in the instant case, the Court has to discharge its constitutional obligations and honour the legislative policy by awarding appropriate sentence, that is, the will of the people.”
- The Court observed that the present case is the specific case of the appellant that he was denied the proper legal assistance in the matter and he is a manhole worker. Further, the Court held that in this case there is no finding recorded by the courts below to the effect that there is no possibility of reformation of the appellant.
- The Court was of the view that the reasons assigned by the trial court as confirmed by the High Court, do not constitute special reasons within the meaning of Section 354(3) of the Cr.PC to impose death penalty on the accused.
- DECISION HELD BY COURT:
- The case on hand will not fall within the ‘rarest of rare’ cases.
- The Court modified the sentence to that of life imprisonment with actual period of 25 years, without any benefit of remission.
- The sentences imposed for all offences shall run concurrently.