The Supreme Court has reduced to life imprisonment the death penalty awarded to a Punjab man held guilty of rape and murder of a minor girl three years ago, saying it could have been a result of a momentary lapse on the part of the convict.
Commuting the death sentence, a Bench of Justice SB Sinha and Justice Dalveer Bhandari said it was not a rarest of rare cases as the death occurred as a consequence of and not because of any specific over act on the part of convict Amrit Singh.
"Imposition of death penalty in a case of this nature, in our opinion, was thus, improper," the Bench said.
The 31-one-year-old convict had raped the victim, a 2nd standard student in a cotton field in the evening of November 3, 2003. He was arrested on the basis of a statement of a witness who had seen the victim in his company on the fateful evening.
Additional Sessions Judge, Mansa awarded death penalty to Singh in March 2005 after holding him guilty of rape and murder of the minor and the Punjab & Haryana High Court confirmed it in August the same year.
But the Supreme Court said the manner in which the deceased was raped may be brutal but it could have been a momentary lapse on the part of the appellant (Singh), seeing a lonely girl at a secluded place. He had no pre-meditation for commission of the offence.
"The offence may look a heinous, but under no circumstance, it can be said to be a rarest of rare cases," the apex court said.
The Bench, however, imposed rigorous imprisonment for life on convict Amrit Singh saying, "In a case of this nature where brutality with which the offence was committed leading to the death of the prosecutrix (victim), in our opinion, maximum sentence should be imposed."
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