HC commutes death penalty to imprisonment for rest of life, says it’s not rarest of rare case

High court, Jabalpur bench commuted death penalty awarded to a 21-year-old rape and murder convict to imprisonment for the rest of his life while observing it was not a rarest of rare cases. The judgment reserved on August 17, 2019 was delivered on Friday.

bhopal Updated: Aug 25, 2018 19:38 IST
Monika Pandey
Monika Pandey
Monika Pandey, Hindustan Times
Rape,minor,Madhya Pradesh
child abuse minor rape

Bhopal/Jabalpur

High court, Jabalpur bench commuted death penalty awarded to a 21-year-old rape and murder convict to imprisonment for the rest of his life while observing it was not a rarest of rare cases. The judgment reserved on August 17, 2019 was delivered on Friday.

The convict Sunil Adivasi happens to be one of the 14 convicts in 13 cases of sexual offences who were awarded death penalty in Madhya Pradesh after promulgation of the ordinance by the central government on April 22 for awarding death penalty to convicts involved in rape with minor girls below 12 years of age. One of the convicts was involved in a sodomy and murder of a minor boy, as per department of prosecution in Madhya Pradesh.

Sunil Adivasi, a resident of Sagar district, 186 kilometers north east of Bhopal, accused under sections 376A, 302, 342, 201/511 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 for allegedly raping and killing a nine-year-old girl on April 13, 2017 was convicted by the court of additional sessions judge, Khurai in Sagar district on June 19 this year and awarded death penalty. He filed an appeal in the high court challenging the conviction.

The bench of justice JK Maheshwari and justice Akhil Kumar Srivastava of high court, Jabalpur said in its judgment that ‘on perusal of the medical of the girl, the sign of commission of rape is present but brutality to the body is not present, though she was found dead’.

The bench, however, said the finding of conviction for the offences committed didn’t warrant interference but on the question if the case was rarest of rare the bench cited the Supreme Court guidelines drawn on ‘aggravating circumstances’ and ‘mitigating circumstances’ in the case of Bachan Singh. The bench also cited the Apex Court observation in certain other cases to arrive at its judgment.

Commuting the death penalty to sentence ‘for the remainder life subject to any remission by the government for good reasons’ the bench said the record indicated that the convict was left by his mother and was residing alone. He was living separately from his family at the age of 21 years and the probability of his being rehabilitated and reformed couldn’t be ruled out. “Nothing is available on record to suggest that he cannot be a useful member of the society. In our considered opinion, it is not a case in which the alternative punishment would not be sufficient to the facts of the case”, observed the bench.

First Published: Aug 25, 2018 19:38 IST