On Friday, the Supreme Court upheld a man’s conviction for kidnapping, raping, and killing a mentally and physically handicapped girl, aged seven, and sentenced him to death.
A three-judge panel made up of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and CT Ravikumar noted that the crime in question had been committed with “severe depravity,” especially in light of the victim’s vulnerability and the method used to perpetrate the crime.
The criminal used the trust he garnered by offering candy to kidnap the victim while riding a stolen motorcycle. She was then sexually assaulted and had her head smashed in, suffering many injuries, including a fractured frontal bone. The victim’s intimate areas had been brutally injured.
The defendant said that he was just 28 years old at the time of the offence. He also has a wife, a little daughter, and an elderly father in his family. The Supreme Court, however, felt that there appeared to be no chance of his reformation and rehabilitation when these mitigating considerations were weighed against a number of other factors relevant to his antecedents.
The prosecution said that circumstantial evidence supported by a whole sequence of events supported their case. The prosecution further claimed that the appellant’s actions showed premeditation and that the offence was performed in a barbarous manner.
As he was found guilty of killing another prisoner and sentenced for fighting with another prisoner, it was also made clear that his behaviour after his conviction was criminal.
“In the present case, the further shocking and disturbing factor is that even while in jail, the appellant’s conduct has not been free from blemish where, apart from quarrelling with other inmate on 17.04.2015 and earning 7 days punishment, the appellant had been accused and convicted of the offence of yet another murder, this time of a co-inmate of the jail, while joining hands with three other inmates, this possibility of the appellant relapsing in the same crime over again and nil probability of his reformation/rehabilitation is a direct challenge as also danger to the maintenance of order in the society. Hence, the facts of the present case, taken as a whole, make it clear that it is unlikely that the appellant, if given an absolution, would not be capable of and would not be inclined to commit such a crime again.”
The appellant, however, claimed that he was wrongly accused. His lawyer argued that because the case was founded on circumstantial evidence, he should be granted the benefit of the “residual doubt” and that the death penalty should not be imposed as a result.
The Bench observed that there was no concept of residual doubt available for the purpose of sentence after carefully reviewing the standards relating to the death penalty, the theory of residential doubt, the crime and criminal tests.
The bench stated that because it was inevitable in this particular case, it had “no choice but to confirm the death sentence awarded to the appellant.”
“In the present case, where all the elements surrounding the offence as also all the elements surrounding the offender cut across the balance sheet of aggravating and mitigating circumstances, we are clearly of the view that there is absolutely no reason to commute the sentence of death to any other sentence of lesser degree. Even the alternative of awarding the sentence of imprisonment for whole of the natural life with no remission doesn’t appear justified in view of the nature of crimes committed by the appellant and looking to his incorrigible conduct.”
The prosecution’s case was supported by circumstantial evidence that the victim was last seen with the appellant when he took her away, that the appellant was unable to satisfactorily account for his whereabouts and his knowledge of the dead body’s location, and that the prosecution’s case was supported by scientific and medical evidence.
As a result, in the eyes of the prosecution, the sequence of events was complete and proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant was guilty, ruling out all alternative possibilities.
The Court rejected requests for the appellant to undergo a psychological assessment before the issue of punishment was resolved, describing the request as “impractical and unrealistic.”
Before dismissing the case, the Bench expressed its gratitude to Senior Advocate A Sirajudeen, who represented the appellant pro bono.
In just a few short months, the case’s investigation and trial were finished. Within ten months following the crime, the trial court imposed the death punishment.