Monday, February 27, 2012

SC rules out death penalty for rape & murder accused

Published: Monday, Feb 27, 2012, 9:45 IST
By Rakesh Bhatnagar | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Putting to rest the controversy over whether a person charged with rape and murdering his victim should be sentenced to the extreme penalty of death, the Supreme Court has ruled that in such a rarest of rare case an accused can’t be given the capital sentence but life term till the end of his life.

This ruling has given a new thrust to the raging debate on compulsorily giving the extreme sentence of death to a rapist. But conscious of the consequences of such a legislation that could lead to serious ramifications, it is argued that the victim couldlose the life too after having suffered the worst kind of brutality.

In a recent verdict, the top court has set aside a judgment by the Allahabad high court that upheld the sentence of death to one Amit, a teenager who raped and murdered a 13-year-old school going girl seven years ago.

“In such cases of rape followed by murder by a young man, instead of death sentence a life imprisonment should be awarded with a direction that life sentence imposed will extend to the full life of the appellant (accused) but subject to any remission or commutation at the instance of the government for good and sufficient reasons,” the court added.

A trial court and the HC had observed that the offence committed by Amit squarely fell in the ‘rarest of rare’ category, thus the appropriate sentence would be death.

The court expressed the hope that the accused would be reformed and turn out to be a better citizen in future. They said he had never committed such an offence in the past and a chance must be given to him to become a good citizen.

In 2008, the top court had however taken into account the increasing number of rape and murder cases as it handed down death sentence to a resident of Pune for raping and killing a girl living in his neighbourhood.

“A large number of cases in recent times coming before this court involving rape and murder of young girls, is a matter of concern,” judges had added.

They also rejected the plea for mercy made by the accused and said, “Undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system to undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law.”

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