While observing that the capital punishment ought to be granted only for terrible wrongdoings in the cases when life imprisonment has all the earmarks of being completely lacking, a bench of Justice NV Ramana, Justice M M Shantanagoudar and Justice Indira Banerjee commuted the death sentence of a man, accused of raping and killing a minor girl in 2015 to 25 years imprisonment.
The bench said,
“As has been well-settled, life imprisonment is the rule to which the death penalty is the exception. The death sentence must be imposed only when life imprisonment appears to be an altogether inappropriate punishment having regard to the relevant facts and circumstances of the crime."
In the present case, the Court, however, upheld the Trial Court's and High Court's decision of conviction with modification but at the same time, it ruled that the conventional narrow-minded hypertechnical approach must be supplanted by a normal and practical methodology for administering justice in a criminal trial.
The man was a school bus driver who had raped and murdered the child in Jabalpur and also declined to provide credence to certain discrepancies in the witnesses' statement.
The accused also alleged about the procedural lapses on the part of police claiming that the panchnama in the case was made at the police station and not at the spot from where the body of the victim was recovered.
The man likewise claimed before the court that the prosecution’s case for the most part depended upon the last-seen circumstances, however, the said circumstance were not been effectively proved.
Nonetheless, the Court refused to grant him the benefit of the doubt and dismissed his plea stating that there was substantial evidence to prove him guilty and said that any sort of discrepancies in the evidence and procedural lapses would not warrant giving the benefit of the doubt to the accused.
The bench said,
“In our considered opinion,.......the chain of circumstances is so complete so as to not leave any doubt in the mind of the court that it is the accused and accused alone who committed the offence in question."