Katara case: A matter of life and death
It's a question of life and death for Nitish Katara murder convicts – Vikas Yadav and Vishal Yadav. Their fate hangs in balance as they await ‘order on sentence’ from a city court that will on Friday decide whether to give them life imprisonment or send them to the gallows.
Generally courts award life imprisonment to convicts in a murder case. However, in “rarest of rare” cases, murder convicts are given death penalty.
Death sentence is imposed on the convict only when the court comes to the conclusion that life imprisonment is inadequate having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case.
The court has to give special reasons for sentencing a convict to death. Capital punishment can be inflicted only in gravest cases of extreme culpability and in making choice of the sentence the condition of the convict is also to be taken into account.
What is “rarest of rare”?
There is no statutory definition of “rarest of rare”. It depends upon facts and circumstances of a particular case, brutality of the crime, conduct of the offender, previous history of his involvement in crime, chances of reforming and integrating him into the society etc.
What is the test for “rarest of rare”?
The generally applied test while sentencing a convict to death is whether the survival of an orderly society demands extinction of life of the person, who has committed the murder and whether failure to impose death sentence on him would bring to naught the sentence of death provided under Section 302 of IPC.
Pre-planned, heart-less, brutal, cold-blooded and sordid nature of the crime, without giving any chance to the victim are generally taken into account to decide whether a particular case falls within the parameters of “rarest of rare”.
What does the Supreme Court say?
“Death penalty should be imposed when collective conscience of the society is so shocked that it will expect the holders of the judicial power centre to inflict death penalty irrespective of their personal opinion as regards desirability of otherwise of retaining death penalty,” said the Supreme Court in Bachchan Singh Vs. State of Punjab.
The Crime has to be viewed from various angles – manner of commission of murder, motive for commission of murder, anti-social or socially abhorrent nature of crime and magnitude and personality of victim of murder.