The death penalty given to a man for allegedly killing a six-year-old girl after raping her was set aside today by the Delhi high court on the ground that the convict was a juvenile when the offence was committed.
Nine months after it was imposed, a bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and S P Garg set aside the death sentence and the conviction of the accused, relying upon a report of the medical board of Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital.
The court, however, ordered that accused Mohan (name changed) would not be released from jail and his case would be dealt by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
"If we go by the medical opinion, the appellant accused on the said date (August 14, 2007) could be .....a juvenile or less than 18 years when the alleged offence was committed," the bench said.
"We accept the application and hold that the appellant was a juvenile on the date of committal of offence. Accordingly, the conviction and sentence of the appellant is set aside.
"He will be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act. The proceedings are forwarded to Juvenile Justice Board (JJB)....We are not inclined to release the appellant on the jail term undergone," the bench also said while disposing of the state's appeal for confirmation of the death penalty.