Tuesday, December 25, 2018
Supreme Court commutes death penalty of Chhattisgarh man
By Express News Service |New Delhi |Published: November 29, 2018 5:27:43 am
The Sessions Judge, Durg, had sentenced Verma to death in June 2013, holding it as a rarest of rare case. The Chhattisgarh High Court confirmed the sentence on April 11, 2014.
THE SUPREME Court on Wednesday commuted the death penalty imposed on a Chhattisgarh man convicted of killing three people and attempting to kill a fourth, saying the question whether the accused was capable of reformation was not considered at the time of trial. “No evidence as to the uncommon nature of the offence or the improbability of reformation or rehabilitation of the appellant has been adduced… Whether the person is capable of reformation and rehabilitation should also be taken into consideration while imposing death penalty,” a bench of Justices Kurian Joseph, Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta ruled while commuting appellant Chhannu Lal Verma’s sentence to life imprisonment.
The Sessions Judge, Durg, had sentenced Verma to death in June 2013, holding it as a rarest of rare case. The Chhattisgarh High Court confirmed the sentence on April 11, 2014. The incident dates back to October 19, 2011 when Verma entered the house of Anandram Sahu and caused fatal injuries to him, Sahu’s wife Firanteen Bai and daughter-in-law Ratna Sahu. He then entered another house and attacked a woman. The apex court relied on a certificate it received from the jail superintendent, which said that Verma’s conduct in jail had been good. “Thus, there is a clear indication that despite having lost all hope, no frustration has set on the appellant. On the contrary, there was a conscious effort on his part to lead a good life for the remaining period. A convict is sent to jail with the hope and expectation that he would make amends and get reformed. That there is such a positive change on a death row convict, in our view, should also weigh with the Court while taking a decision as to whether the alternative option is unquestionably foreclosed,” the bench said.
Writing for the bench, Justice Joseph referred to the 1980 judgment of a Constitution bench in the Bachan Singh Vs State of Punjab case in which the court had by a 4-1 majority laid down that the death penalty could only be imposed in rarest of rare cases. Justice Joseph wrote, “As held by the Constitution Bench in Bachan Singh.it was the duty of the State to prove by evidence that the convict cannot be reformed or rehabilitated. That information not having been furnished by the State at the relevant time, the information now furnished by the State becomes all the more relevant. The standard set by the ‘rarest of rare’ test in Bachan Singh is a high standard. The conduct of the convict in prison cannot be lost sight of. The fact that the prisoner has displayed good behaviour in prison certainly goes on to show that he is not beyond reform.”
Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/supreme-court-commutes-death-penalty-of-chhattisgarh-man-5469909/ (Accessed 25 December 2018)