A 24-year-old labourer's death sentence has been commuted to life sentence.
Ravindra Kamble, convicted of raping and murdering a four-year-old girl in 2007, will however have to serve 10 years in prison separately after completing his life term.
The Bombay high court set aside the death penalty of the resident of Nerli village in Kolhapur district because he had no criminal past.
"We do not think this is a rarest of rare case in which death penalty should be imposed on the appellant," said the division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Vijaya Kapse-Tahilramani.
The bench added, "We are not satisfied that the circumstances of the crime are such that there is no alternative but to impose death sentence even after according maximum weightage to the mitigating circumstances."
The bench noted that the crime was undoubtedly heinous and the conduct of the accused was reprehensible.
"It reveals a dirty and perverted mind of a human being who has no control over his carnal desires," said the judges.
The court maintained Kamble's conviction on both the major charges of rape and murder.
He had lured the girl by offering her chocolates and took her to a sugarcane farm, where he raped and later killed her. The body was found after two days in partly decomposed state and parts of it were eaten by animals.
In March last year, Kolhapur sessions court had convicted Kamble primarily on the basis of "last seen theory" and circumstantial evidence.
The convict had challenged the conviction, contending the chain of circumstances was not complete to come to the sole conclusion that he was the culprit.