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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Death sentence commuted to life imprisonment - as it is not a rarest of rare case =SANTOSH KUMAR SINGH … APPELLANT VERSUS STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH … RESPONDENT = 2014 – July. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41740

   Death sentence commuted to life imprisonment - as it is not a rarest of rare case =

 Recently,  this  Court  in  Shankar  Kisanrao  Khade  vs.  State   of
Maharashtra, 2013 (5) SCC 546,  dealing  with  a  case  of  death  sentence,
observed:

              “52. Aggravating  circumstances  as  pointed  out  above,  of
           course, are not exhaustive so also the mitigating circumstances.
           In my considered view, the tests that we have  to  apply,  while
           awarding death sentence are “crime test”,  “criminal  test”  and
           the “R-R test” and not the  “balancing  test”.  To  award  death
           sentence, the “crime test” has to be fully satisfied,  that  is,
           100% and “criminal test” 0%, that is, no mitigating circumstance
           favouring the accused. If there is  any  circumstance  favouring
           the accused,  like  lack  of  intention  to  commit  the  crime,
           possibility of reformation, young age  of  the  accused,  not  a
           menace to the  society,  no  previous  track  record,  etc.  the
           “criminal test” may favour the  accused  to  avoid  the  capital
           punishment. Even if both the tests are satisfied, that  is,  the
           aggravating  circumstances  to  the  fullest   extent   and   no
           mitigating circumstances favouring the accused, still we have to
           apply finally the rarest of the rare case test (R-R  test).  R-R
           test depends upon the perception of the society that is “society-
           centric” and not “Judge-centric”, that is, whether  the  society
           will approve the awarding of death sentence to certain types  of
           crimes or not. While applying that test, the court has  to  look
           into variety  of  factors  like  society’s  abhorrence,  extreme
           indignation and antipathy to certain types of crimes like sexual
           assault and murder of  intellectually  challenged  minor  girls,
           suffering from physical disability, old and  infirm  women  with
           those disabilities, etc. Examples are only illustrative and  not
           exhaustive. The courts  award  death  sentence  since  situation
           demands so, due to constitutional compulsion, reflected  by  the
           will of the people and not the will of the Judges.”

29.   In the present case the appellant is an educated person, he was  about
26 years old at the time of committing the offence. The accused was a  tutor
in the family of the deceased-Noorjahan. He was  in  acquaintance  with  the
deceased as well as Zeenat Parveen (PW-3) and Razia Khatoon  (PW-4).   There
is nothing specific to suggest the motive for committing  the  crime  except
the articles and cash taken away by the accused. It is not the case  of  the
prosecution that the appellant cannot be reformed or that the accused  is  a
social menace. Apart from the incident in  question  there  is  no  criminal
antecedent of the appellant. It is true that the  accused  has  committed  a
heinous crime, but it cannot be held with certainty that this case falls  in
the “rarest of the rare category”. On appreciation  of  evidence  on  record
and keeping in mind the facts and circumstances of the case, we are  of  the
view that sentence of death penalty would be extensive and unduly harsh.

30.   Accordingly, we commute  the  death  sentence  of  appellant  to  life
imprisonment. The conviction and rest part of  the  sentence  are  affirmed.
Appeals are partly allowed.

2014 – July. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41740

                                                               REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                     CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.410-411 OF 2012
SANTOSH KUMAR SINGH                                … APPELLANT
                                   VERSUS
STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH                             … RESPONDENT
                               J U D G M E N T
SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, J.
      These appeals are directed against the common impugned judgment  dated
24th March, 2011 passed by the High  Court  of  Madhya  Pradesh,   Principal
Seat at Jabalpur, by which High Court upheld the judgment of conviction  and
sentence for the offences u/s 302, 307, 394, 397 and 450 IPC, as follows:
|Section                            |Sentence imposed                   |
|For offence under Section 302 IPC  |Sentenced to death.                |
|(on two counts);                   |                                   |
|For offence under Section 307 IPC  |Sentence for life on each count    |
|(on two counts);                   |with fine of Rs.10,000/- each on   |
|                                   |failure of payment RI for two years|
|                                   |each.                              |
|For offence under Section 394 read |RI for ten years on each count with|
|with Section 397 (on four counts); |fine of Rs.5,000/- each on failure |
|                                   |of payment further RI for one year |
|                                   |each.                              |
|For offence under Section 450 IPC. |RI for ten years with fine of      |
|                                   |Rs.5,000/-. On failure of payment, |
|                                   |further RI for one year.           |



2.    The learned counsel for the appellant assailed the  conviction,  inter
alia, on the following grounds:
           (a)   The trial was not fair as the appellant was not  given  an
           opportunity to defend by the counsel of his choice.

           (b)   The Trial Court gravely erred in placing implicit reliance
           on the statement of Razia Khatoon (PW-4) and Zeenat Parveen (PW-
           3) and on the evidence of recovery of the  ornaments  and  other
           articles from the possession of the appellant.

           (c)   The death sentence awarded by the Trial Court as confirmed
           by the High Court is not justified, as no case of rarest of  the
           rare is made out.

3.    The case of the prosecution is that the  accused-Santosh  Kumar  Singh
was known to the family of Gulam Mohd. including his  wife,  Noorjahan,  son
Javed Akhtar, and daughters viz. Rozi @ Razia and  Zeenat  Parveen.  On  7th
May, 2010, accused came to their house in Sector  No.12,  Quarter  No.B-664,
N.C.L. Colony, Singrauli at about 2 p.m. He had a chat with Noorjahan  Begum
(deceased) for about 30 minutes. In the same room besides her Rozi  @  Razia
Khatoon(PW-4) and Zeenat Parveen (PW-3)  were  also  present.  Javed  Akhtar
(deceased), son of Noorjahan  Begum  was  sleeping  in  the  bedroom.  After
accused left, Noorjahan Begum (deceased)  started  offering  Namaz,  Rozi  @
Razia went to bathroom to take bath and Zeenat Parveen was  sitting  in  the
outside room.  After sometime, accused  came  back  and  knocked  the  door;
Zeenat Parveen opened the door and the accused came  inside.  At  that  time
Rozi @ Razia came out of the bathroom and saw accused talking to  Zeenat  in
the outside room, at that moment, the accused suddenly pulled  out  an  iron
hammer from his   T-shirt   and hit on the head of Zeenat Parween  two-three
times with hammer. Zeenat  Parveen  screamed  and  became  unconscious.  The
accused, thereafter, with  intention  to  kill  Noorjahan  Begum  and  Javed
Akhtar also hit them with hammer on their heads, because of which both  fell
down and became unconscious. After that accused hit  Rozi  @  Razia  by  the
hammer on her head with an intention to kill her  resultantly  Razia’s  head
got fractured. Thereafter, the accused opened  the  almirah,  suitcases  and
boxes and looted two gold chains, one pair of tops, one pair  of  bali,  one
pair of jhala, three rings, one nose pin and four pairs of  silver  anklets,
artificial jewellery etc. and Rs. 23,000/-  cash  of  Noorjahan  Begum.   He
also took out four brass bangles from the hands of  Noorjahan  Begum.  As  a
result of assault Noorjahan Begum died on the spot. On  hearing  shrieks  of
Rozi @ Razia, Ramesh Satnami (PW-1), Ramawadh Pal (PW-5)  and  other  people
of the colony came. At the time of incident, Gulam Mohd. (PW-2) was on  duty
and on receiving the news he came to the place of incident and took  Rozi  @
Razia, Zeenat Parveen and Javed Akhtar to Nehru Hospital.

4.    On the basis of the report, Ext.P-10, of Rozi @  Razia  Khatoon(PW-4),
a case Crime No.0/10  was registered under Section 302, 307, 450, 394 &  397
IPC at the Police Station Vindhya Nagar. After receiving  the  news  of  the
death of Noorjahan and Javed Akhtar, Shiv Kumar Dubey (PW-13)  recorded  the
marg intimation of Ext.P-24 & 25  in  Police  Chauki  Jayant,  P.S.  Vindhya
Nagar and the marg intimation-Ext.P/10 was  sent  to  the  concerned  Police
Station, on the basis of which Crime No.Ka-0-304/10 was registered  at  P.S.
Baidhan and investigation was started.

5.    Sub-Inspector, J.S. Paraste (PW-12), on the  same  day,  went  at  the
spot  and  prepared  the  inquest  memo  of  the  body  of  Noorjahan  Begum
(Ext.P/12).The  dead  body  of  Noorjahan  Begum  was  sent  for  postmortem
examination. After conducting inquest proceedings in  respect  of  the  dead
body of Javed Akhtar, the same was also  sent  for  postmortem  examination.
Dr. Vinod Sharma(PW.16) examined the injuries of Razia  Khatoon  and  Zeenat
Parveen and found  injuries  on  their  heads.  The  injuries,  grievous  in
nature, were dangerous to life.

6.    Dr. V.N. Satnami (PW-10) conducted autopsy of the  body  of  Noorjahan
Begum. He found three injuries on her skull, skull bones were fractured.  He
submitted his postmortem report-Ext.P/19.  In  his  opinion,  death  of  the
deceased was homicidal in nature. Dr. V.N. Satnami  (PW-10)  also  conducted
autopsy of body of Javed Akhtar and found two injuries on  his  head.  There
was depressed fracture  of  skull  bone  underneath  the  injuries.  In  his
opinion, death of the deceased was homicidal in  nature.  Postmortem  report
of Javed Akhtar is Ext.P/20.

7.    Anil Upadhyay (PW-11) was the Investigation Officer, who on  the  same
night apprehended the accused from Khariya Chowk and  recovered  Rs.23,020/-
from the pocket of his pants. On the  information  given  by  the  appellant
under Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, he recovered  stolen  articles,
iron hammer and  blood  stained  clothes  from  the  house  of  the  accused
situated in N.C.L. Colony. The recovered articles were identified  by  Gulam
Mohd (PW.2) and Razia Khatoon (PW-4).

8.    After due investigation, the chargesheet was filed and  the  case  was
committed for trial. The  appellant  denied  the  guilt  and  pleaded  false
implication but he did not adduce any evidence in his defence.

9.  Prosecution examined altogether 16 witnesses and produced  a  number  of
documentary  evidence  to  prove  their  case.  The  Trial  court   on   the
appreciation of the evidence held  the  accused  guilty  and  convicted  and
sentenced him for the offence as mentioned above, which was affirmed by  the
High Court.

10.    Dr. V.N. Satnami (PW-10), who performed  the  postmortem  examination
of the body of Noorjahan Begum found the following injuries on her body:

           “(1)Reddish contusion 5 cm x 4  cm  present  on  right  side  of
           forehead. Red blood clot was deposited under the skin.

           (2)Lacerated wound 5 cm x 3 cm x bone  deep  on  middle  of  the
           forehead  posteriorly  with  depressed  multiple  fractures   of
           underlying bone.

           (3) Lacerated wound 4 cm x 3 cm x bone  deep  on  left  occipito
           parietal region of head with  depressed  multiple  fractures  of
           underlying bones.

           In his opinion, death of deceased Noorjahan had  occurred  as  a
           result of coma due  to  head  injury.  Death  was  homicidal  in
           nature. The postmortem examination report (P/19) was written and
           signed by him.”

      On the same day, Dr. Satnami (PW-10) performed postmortem  examination
of the body of deceased Javed Akhtar and found the following injuries:

           “(1) Lacerated wound on left parietal region of head 2 cm x 1 cm
           x bone deep with peripheral contusions in size of 6 cm x  5  cm.
           subcutaneous  reddish  blood  clot   with   multiple   depressed
           fractures of underlying bone.

           (2) Reddish contusion on occipital region of head 5 cm x 4 cm in
           size  with  subcutaneous  reddish  blood  clot  with   depressed
           fracture of underlying bone.

           In his opinion, death of Javed Akhtar had occurred as  a  result
           of coma due to injury. Death was homicidal in nature.”



11.   From the inquest memorandums (Ext.P/6 and P/12) and  the  evidence  of
Sub-Inspector, J.S. Paraste (PW-12) and constable Raj  Bahadur  Pandey  (PW-
15), who conducted inquest, it was  established  that  Noorjahan  and  Javed
Akhtar died of homicidal injuries found on their bodies.

12.   Anil Upadhyay (PW-11),  Investigation  Officer  arrested  the  accused
from Khariya Chowk,  Main  Road,  P.S.  Shakti  Nagar  in  the  presence  of
witnesses Mohd.Sadiq (PW-6) and Mohd. Yunus (PW-7)  and  seized  money  from
him and  prepared  seizure  memo-Ext.P-15.  After  arrest  the  accused  was
brought to the Police Station-Jayant and was interrogated in  front  of  the
witnesses.  During  interrogation   accused   gave   information   regarding
jewellery and the hammer which was used in committing  crime;  the  clothes,
hammer and jewellery  were  seized  from  the  house  of  the  accused  vide
memorandum-Ext.P-13,  written  by  Anil  Upadhyay  (PW-11).   Anil  Upadhyay
stated that he went to  the  house  of  accused  and  seized  the  jewellery
article from articles-A1 to A 24; seizure  memo-Ext.P-14  was  prepared.  He
had also stated that blood stained clothes and iron hammer  were  seized  in
the presence of witnesses vide seizure memo-Ext.P-16.

13.   Mohd.  Sadiq  (PW.6)  and  Mohd.  Yunus  (PW-7)  are  the  independent
witnesses of the memorandum of seizure.  In  their  statement  they  deposed
that the Police arrested the accused at Khariya Chowk in their presence  and
seized about Rs. 23,000/-from him and the accused was brought to the  Police
Station-Jayant for inquiry.  At the Police  Station  the  accused  disclosed
about the jewellery, hammer and clothes, on the basis  of  which  jewellery,
hammer  and  clothes  were  seized.  Both   the   witnesses   thereby   have
corroborated the  statement  of  Anil  Upadhyay(PW-11).  During  the  cross-
examination both the witnesses, PW-6 and PW-7  admitted  that  they  visited
the house of Gulam Mohd. There is  no  infirmity  or  contradiction  in  the
statements of the two witnesses.

14.   Mohd. Ayaz Khan (PW-9) stated that on 8th July, 2010  at  the  request
of the Police he  conducted  identification  of  the  jewellery  at  stadium
Baidhan and prior  to  the  identification  Police  had  handed  over  other
jewellery  in  a  sealed  packet.  He  mixed  it  and  then  conducted   the
identification and during the  identification  Gulam  Mohd.  and  Razia  had
identified the original jewellery. After identification he had  handed  over
the jewellery in a packet to  the  Police  who  were  standing  outside  the
stadium.

15.   Zeenat Parween(PW-3) and Razia Khatoon (PW-4), daughters  of  deceased
Noorjahan  and  sisters  of  deceased   Javed   Akhtar   are   the   injured
eyewitnesses; both of them received serious injuries at the incident.   Both
the witness PW-3 and PW-4 clearly stated that sometime before the  incident,
the accused had come to their house and he being a prior  acquaintance,  the
accused had taken  refreshment  sitting  with  their  mother  and  also  was
talking with her. From the statements of both the  witnesses  the  facts  of
the accused coming to their house before the  incident,  taking  refreshment
with deceased Noorjahan and talking with  her  are  proved,  which  is  also
corroborated from the FIR-Ext.P-10. Both these witnesses  have  also  stated
that in the past the accused used to come  for  tuitions  and  their  mother
used to treat the accused like her son and the  photograph  of  the  accused
was also hanging in their house. From the aforesaid evidence,  it  is  clear
that the PW-3 and PW-4 were in a  position  to  identify  the  accused,  the
accused was well  acquainted  with  both  PW-3  and  PW-4  since  long.  The
prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that even prior to  the  incident
the accused was known to the deceased and the injured witnesses PW-3 and PW-
4 and on the date of incident also, the accused had come to their house  and
had taken refreshments and had talks.

16.   Zeenat Parveen (PW-3) and Razia Khatoon  (PW-4)  in  their  statements
clearly stated that  initially  the  accused  left  their  house  and  after
sometime the accused had come again to their house. On opening the  door  he
had hit the hammer on the head of Javed  Akhtar,  who  had  come  out  after
hearing screams of Zeenat Parveen and then after entering into  the  bedroom
he hit deceased Noorjahan on her head. From the statement of  Razia  Khatoon
(PW-4), it is also clear that the accused after entering the store-room  had
hit on her head and then the accused had taken out the money  and  jewellery
from the almirah, suitcase, box and attaché,  etc.  In  paragraph  7  Zeenat
Parveen (PW-3), has also stated that she had  seen  the  accused  hit  Javed
Akhtar on his head but she could not  see  as  to  who  hit  Razia  and  her
mother.  Such statement cannot be stated to be contradiction  and  does  not
adversely affect the case of the prosecution in view of the deposition  made
by Razia Khatoon(PW-4).

17.   Similarly, from the statement of  Razia Khatoon (PW-4), we  find  that
the accused after hitting Zeenat Parveen, Javed Akhtar  and  Noorjahan  took
away jewellery, cash amount and the bangles of Noorjahan  and  then  he  ran
away after bolting the door from outside.

18. PW-4 further deposed that after the accused  run  away  by  bolting  the
door from outside she went into the balcony and stop Satnami (PW-1), who  at
that time had taken out his vehicle and was going somewhere. Then, the  door
was got open. Statements of Razia Khatoon (PW-4)  about  shouting  from  the
balcony stopping Satnami (PW-1) and then opening of the door by Satnami  are
also proved by the statement of Ramesh  Satnami  (PW-1),  who  made  similar
statement.

19.   In view of  the  statements  made  by  the  injured  witnesses  Zeenat
Parveen (PW-3) and Razia Khatoon (PW-4) as corroborated  by  the  postmortem
report, seizure of jewellery, hammer,  blood  stained  clothes  (Ex.P-13)and
statement of Anil Upadhyay (PW-11), as  corroborated  by  Sadiq  (PW-6)  and
Yunus (PW-7), the Trial Court  rightly  held  the  accused  guilty  for  the
offences u/s 302, 307, 394 r/w  397 and 450 IPC.

20.   First ground taken by the  learned  counsel  for  the  appellant  with
respect to denial of opportunity to the accused to be defended by a  counsel
of his  choice  is  incorrect  as  from  the  record  we  find  that  proper
opportunity was given to the accused.

21.   The order sheets of the Trial Court dated 25th September,  2010  shows
that the appellant made an application that  appellant  wanted  to  get  the
witnesses cross-examined by senior Advocate,  Mr.  Rajendra  Singh  Chauhan,
therefore, he requested to defer the  cross-examination  of  the  witnesses.
The Trial court rejected the application. On 27th September,  2010,  counsel
of the accused, Mr. Amrendra Singh, who was defending the  accused,  refused
to defend him.  The  Trial  Court  then  appointed  one  Mr.  G.P.  Dwivedi,
Advocate, as defence counsel on State expenses.

22.   On  perusal  of  records  it  transpires  that  Shri  Amrendra  Singh,
Advocate had filed his Vakalatnama for representing the appellant.  On  25th
September, 2010, when  the  case  was  fixed  for  evidence  though  he  was
competent to cross-examine the witnesses but he  moved  the  application  to
defer the cross-examination of the witnesses on the ground that the  accused
wanted to engage senior  Advocate,  Mr.  Rajendra  Singh  Chauhan.  However,
neither Rajendra Singh Chauhan was present nor any Vakalatnama was filed  on
his behalf. On that day, two witnesses, namely  Ramesh  Satnami  (PW-1)  and
Gulam Mohd. (PW-2) were examined and Mr. Amrendra Singh, Advocate had cross-
examined those witnesses. None of  those  witnesses  were  eyewitnesses;  in
fact one of them, Ramesh  Satnami  (PW-1)  was  declared  hostile.  On  27th
September, 2010, Mr. Amrendra Singh refused  to  appear  on  behalf  of  the
appellant, when the appellant on asking expressed his inability  to  appoint
any counsel. Since there was none to represent the accused, the Trial  Court
appointed Mr. G.P. Dwivedi, Advocate, to pursue the  appeal.  The  appellant
has failed to show that Mr. G.P. Dwivedi was not competent or was  incapable
of handling the case. On the contrary  from  the  cross-examination  of  the
witnesses made by Mr. G.P. Dwivedi we find that he  was  competent  to  deal
with the case.  Even on the next date neither Mr.  Rajendra  Singh  Chauhan,
Advocate appeared nor he filed his Vakalatnama.

23.   The next question is whether death sentence awarded to  the  appellant
is excessive, disproportionate on the facts and circumstance  of  the  case,
i.e. whether the present case can be termed to  be  a  rarest  of  the  rare
case.

24.   Guidelines emerged from Bachan Singh vs. State  of  Punjab,  1980  (2)
SCC 684 were noticed by this Court in Machhi Singh and others vs.  State  of
Punjab, 1983 (3) SCC 470. In the said case the Court observed:

              38. In this background the  guidelines  indicated  in  Bachan
           Singh case, 1980 (2) SCC 684 will have  to  be  culled  out  and
           applied to the facts of each individual case where the  question
           of imposing of death sentence arises. The following propositions
           emerge from Bachan Singh case(supra):
              “(i) The extreme penalty  of  death  need  not  be  inflicted
           except in gravest cases of extreme culpability.
              (ii) Before opting for the death penalty the circumstances of
           the ‘offender’ also require to be taken into consideration along
           with the circumstances of the ‘crime’.
              (iii) Life imprisonment is the rule and death sentence is  an
           exception. In other words death sentence must  be  imposed  only
           when life imprisonment appears to be  an  altogether  inadequate
           punishment having regard to the relevant  circumstances  of  the
           crime, and provided, and only provided,  the  option  to  impose
           sentence of imprisonment  for  life  cannot  be  conscientiously
           exercised having regard to the nature and circumstances  of  the
           crime and all the relevant circumstances.
              (iv)  A  balance  sheet   of   aggravating   and   mitigating
           circumstances has to be drawn up and in doing so the  mitigating
           circumstances have to be accorded  full  weightage  and  a  just
           balance has  to  be  struck  between  the  aggravating  and  the
           mitigating circumstances before the option is exercised.


              39. In  order  to  apply  these  guidelines  inter  alia  the
           following questions may be asked and answered:
              (a) Is there something uncommon about the crime which renders
           sentence of imprisonment for life inadequate  and  calls  for  a
           death sentence?
              (b) Are the circumstances of the crime such that there is  no
           alternative but to impose death sentence  even  after  according
           maximum weightage to the mitigating circumstances which speak in
           favour of the offender?


              40. If  upon  taking  an  overall  global  view  of  all  the
           circumstances in the light  of  the  aforesaid  proposition  and
           taking  into  account  the  answers  to  the   questions   posed
           hereinabove, the circumstances of the case are such  that  death
           sentence is warranted, the court would proceed to do so.”

25.    In  Ronny  alias  Ronald  James  Alwaris  and  others  vs.  State  of
Maharashtra, 1998 (3) SCC 625,  this Court held:

              “45. These principles have been applied in various  judgments
           of this Court thereafter and it is unnecessary to  multiply  the
           cases here. Whether the case is one of the rarest  of  the  rare
           cases is a question which has to be determined on the  facts  of
           each case. Suffice it to mention that the choice  of  the  death
           sentence has to be made only in the rarest of the rare cases and
           that where culpability of the accused has assumed  depravity  or
           where the accused is found to be an ardent criminal  and  menace
           to the society and; where the crime is committed in an organised
           manner and is gruesome,  cold-blooded,  heinous  and  atrocious;
           where innocent and unarmed persons  are  attacked  and  murdered
           without any provocation, the case would present  special  reason
           for purposes of sub-section (3) of Section 354 of  the  Criminal
           Procedure Code.”

      In Rony alias Ronald James Alwaris (supra) this Court  noted  the  law
laid-down by this Court in Allauddin Mian & Ors. Vs. State of Bihar,  (1989)
3 SCC 5, that unless the nature  of  the  crime  and  circumstances  of  the
offender reveal that criminal is a menace to the society  and  the  sentence
of life imprisonment  would  be  altogether  inadequate,  the  Court  should
ordinarily pass a lesser  punishment  and  not  punishment  of  death  which
should be reserved for exceptional case  only.  Considering  the  cumulative
effect  of  all  the  factors,  like  the  offences    committed  under  the
influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance, the young age  of  the
accused, the possibility of reform and rehabilitation, etc.  the  Court  may
convert the sentence into life imprisonment.
26.   In  State of Maharashtra vs. Goraksha Ambaji Adsul, 2011 (7) SCC  437,
 this Court made the following observation:

              “30. The principles governing the sentencing  policy  in  our
           criminal jurisprudence have more or less been consistent,  right
           from the pronouncement of the  Constitution  Bench  judgment  of
           this Court in Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab,(2010) 8 SCC  775.
           Awarding punishment is certainly  an  onerous  function  in  the
           dispensation of criminal justice. The court is expected to  keep
           in mind the facts and circumstances of a case, the principles of
           law governing award  of  sentence,  the  legislative  intent  of
           special or general statute  raised  in  [pic]the  case  and  the
           impact of awarding punishment. These are the nuances which  need
           to be examined by the court with discernment and in depth.


              31. The legislative intent  behind  enacting  Section  354(3)
           CrPC clearly demonstrates the concern  of  the  legislature  for
           taking away a human life and imposing  death  penalty  upon  the
           accused. Concern for the dignity of the  human  life  postulates
           resistance to taking a life through law’s instrumentalities  and
           that ought not to be done, save in the  rarest  of  rare  cases,
           unless the alternative option is unquestionably  foreclosed.  In
           exercise of its discretion,  the  court  would  also  take  into
           consideration the mitigating circumstances and  their  resultant
           effects.


              32.  The  language  of  Section   354(3)   demonstrates   the
           legislative  concern  and  the  conditions  which  need  to   be
           satisfied prior to imposition of death penalty. The  words,  “in
           the case of sentence of death,  the  special  reasons  for  such
           sentence”  unambiguously  demonstrate   the   command   of   the
           legislature that such reasons have to be recorded  for  imposing
           the punishment of death sentence. This is how the concept of the
           rarest of rare cases has emerged in law. Viewed from that angle,
           both the legislative provisions and judicial pronouncements  are
           at ad idem in law. The death penalty should be  imposed  in  the
           rarest of rare cases and that too  for  special  reasons  to  be
           recorded. To put it simply, a death sentence is not a  rule  but
           an exception. Even the exception must satisfy the  prerequisites
           contemplated under Section 354(3) CrPC in light of the dictum of
           the Court in Bachan Singh(supra).


              33. The Constitution Bench judgment of this Court  in  Bachan
           Singh (supra) has been summarised in para 38 in Machhi Singh  v.
           State of Punjab, (1998) 1 SCC 149, and the following  guidelines
           have been stated while considering the possibility  of  awarding
           sentence of death: (Machhi Singh case(supra), SCC p. 489)
              “(i) The extreme penalty  of  death  need  not  be  inflicted
           except in gravest cases of extreme culpability.
              (ii) Before opting for the death penalty the circumstances of
           the ‘offender’ also requires  to  be  taken  into  consideration
           along with the circumstances of the ‘crime’.
              (iii) Life imprisonment is the rule and death sentence is  an
           exception. … death sentence  must  be  imposed  only  when  life
           imprisonment appears to be an altogether  inadequate  punishment
           having regard to the relevant circumstances of  the  crime,  and
           provided, and only provided the option  to  impose  sentence  of
           imprisonment for life cannot be conscientiously exercised having
           regard to the nature and circumstances of the crime and all  the
           relevant circumstances.
              (iv)  A  balance  sheet   of   aggravating   and   mitigating
           circumstances has to be drawn up and in doing so the  mitigating
           circumstances have to be accorded  full  weightage  and  a  just
           balance has  to  be  struck  between  the  aggravating  and  the
           mitigating circumstances before the option is exercised.”
                                       (emphasis supplied)
           [pic]
              34. The judgment in Bachan Sing(supra), did  not  only  state
           the above guidelines in some elaboration, but also specified the
           mitigating circumstances which could be considered by the  Court
           while determining such serious issues and they are  as  follows:
           (SCC p. 750, para 206)
              “206. … ‘Mitigating circumstances.—In  the  exercise  of  its
           discretion in the above cases, the court shall take into account
           the following circumstances:
              (1) That the offence was committed  under  the  influence  of
           extreme mental or emotional disturbance.
              (2) The age of the accused. If the accused is young  or  old,
           he shall not be sentenced to death.
              (3)  The  probability  that  the  accused  would  not  commit
           criminal acts of  violence  as  would  constitute  a  continuing
           threat to society.
              (4) The probability that the  accused  can  be  reformed  and
           rehabilitated.
           The State shall by evidence prove  that  the  accused  does  not
           satisfy Conditions (3) and (4) above.
              (5) That in the facts  and  circumstances  of  the  case  the
           accused believed that he was morally justified in committing the
           offence.
              (6) That the accused acted under the duress or domination  of
           another person.
              (7) That the condition of the  accused  showed  that  he  was
           mentally  defective  and  that  the  said  defect  impaired  his
           capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct.’”


              35. Now, we may examine certain  illustrations  arising  from
           the judicial pronouncements of this Court.


              36. In D.K. Basu v. State of  W.B.,(2002)  1  SCC  351,  this
           Court took the view that  custodial  torture  and  consequential
           death in custody was an offence which fell in  the  category  of
           the rarest of  rare  cases.  While  specifying  the  reasons  in
           support of such decision, the Court  awarded  death  penalty  in
           that case.


              37. In  Santosh  Kumar  Satishbhushan  Bariyar  v.  State  of
           Maharashtra, (1972) 2 SCC 640, this  Court  also  spelt  out  in
           paras  56  to  58  that  nature,  motive,  impact  of  a  crime,
           culpability, quality of evidence, socio-economic  circumstances,
           impossibility of rehabilitation are the factors which the  court
           may take into consideration while dealing with  such  cases.  In
           that case the friends of the victim had  called  him  to  see  a
           movie and after seeing the movie, a ransom call  was  made,  but
           with the fear of being caught, they  murdered  the  victim.  The
           Court felt that there was no evidence to show that the criminals
           were [pic]incapable of reforming themselves, that it was  not  a
           rarest of the rare case, and therefore, declined to award  death
           sentence to the accused.


              38.  Interpersonal  circumstances  prevailing   between   the
           deceased and  the  accused  was  also  held  to  be  a  relevant
           consideration in Vashram Narshibhai Rajpara v. State of Gujarat,
           (1996) 8 SCC 167,  where constant nagging by family was  treated
           as the mitigating factor, if the accused is mentally  unbalanced
           and as a result  murders  the  family  members.  Similarly,  the
           intensity of bitterness which prevailed and  the  escalation  of
           simmering thoughts into a thirst  for  revenge  and  retaliation
           were also considered to be a relevant factor by  this  Court  in
           different cases.


              39.  This  Court  in  Satishbhushan   Bariya   (supra)   also
           considered various doctrines, principles and factors which would
           be considered by the Courts while dealing with such  cases.  The
           Court discussed in some elaboration  the  applicability  of  the
           doctrine of rehabilitation and the doctrine of  prudence.  While
           considering the application of the  doctrine  of  rehabilitation
           and the extent of  weightage  to  be  given  to  the  mitigating
           circumstances, it noticed the nature of  the  evidence  and  the
           background of the accused.  The  conviction  in  that  case  was
           entirely based upon the statement of the approver and was a case
           purely of circumstantial evidence. Thus, applying  the  doctrine
           of  prudence,  it  noticed  the  fact  that  the  accused   were
           unemployed, young men  in  search  of  job  and  they  were  not
           criminals. In execution of a plan proposed by the appellant  and
           accepted by others, they  kidnapped  a  friend  of  theirs.  The
           kidnapping was done with the motive of procuring ransom from his
           family but later they  murdered  him  because  of  the  fear  of
           getting caught, and later cut the body into pieces and  disposed
           it off at different  places.  One  of  the  accused  had  turned
           approver and as already noticed, the  conviction  was  primarily
           based upon the statement of the approver.”




              “41. The above principle, as supported by case illustrations,
           clearly depicts the various  precepts  which  would  govern  the
           exercise  of  judicial  discretion  by  the  courts  within  the
           parameters spelt out under  Section  354(3)  CrPC.  Awarding  of
           death sentence amounts to taking away the life of an individual,
           which is the most valuable right available, whether viewed  from
           the constitutional point of view or from the human rights  point
           of view. The condition of providing special reasons for awarding
           death penalty is not to be construed linguistically but it is to
           satisfy the basic features of a reasoning supporting and  making
           award of death penalty unquestionable. The circumstances and the
           manner of committing the crime should be such that it pricks the
           judicial conscience of the court to the extent that the only and
           inevitable conclusion should be awarding of death penalty.”



27. This Court in Ramnaresh and others vs. State of  Chattisgarh,  2012  (4)
SCC 257, noticed the aggravating and mitigating circumstances  with  respect
to a crime and held as follows:

              “76.  The  law  enunciated  by  this  Court  in  its   recent
           judgments,  as  already  noticed,  adds   and   elaborates   the
           principles that were stated in Bachan Singh,(1980)  2  SCC  684,
           and thereafter, in Machhi Singh,(1983) 3 SCC 470. The  aforesaid
           judgments, primarily dissect these principles into two different
           compartments—one being the “aggravating circumstances” while the
           other being the  “mitigating  circumstances”.  The  court  would
           consider  the  cumulative  effect  of  both  these  aspects  and
           normally, it may not be very appropriate for the court to decide
           the most significant aspect of sentencing policy with  reference
           to one of the classes under any of  the  following  heads  while
           completely ignoring other classes under other heads. To  balance
           the two is the primary duty of the court. It will be appropriate
           for the court to come to a final conclusion upon  [pic]balancing
           the exercise that would help to administer the criminal  justice
           system better and provide an effective and meaningful  reasoning
           by the court as contemplated under Section 354(3) CrPC.


           Aggravating circumstances
              (1) The offences relating to the commission of heinous crimes
           like murder,  rape,  armed  dacoity,  kidnapping,  etc.  by  the
           accused with a prior record of conviction for capital felony  or
           offences committed by the person having a substantial history of
           serious assaults and criminal convictions.
              (2) The offence was committed while the offender was  engaged
           in the commission of another serious offence.
              (3) The offence was committed with the intention to create  a
           fear psychosis in the public at large and  was  committed  in  a
           public place by a  weapon  or  device  which  clearly  could  be
           hazardous to the life of more than one person.
              (4) The offence of murder was committed for  ransom  or  like
           offences to receive money or monetary benefits.
              (5) Hired killings.
              (6) The offence was  committed  outrageously  for  want  only
           while involving inhumane treatment and torture to the victim.
              (7) The offence was committed by a  person  while  in  lawful
           custody.
              (8) The murder or the offence  was  committed  to  prevent  a
           person lawfully carrying out his duty like arrest or custody  in
           a place  of  lawful  confinement  of  himself  or  another.  For
           instance, murder  is  of  a  person  who  had  acted  in  lawful
           discharge of his duty under Section 43 CrPC.
              (9) When the crime is enormous in proportion like  making  an
           attempt  of  murder  of  the  entire  family  or  members  of  a
           particular community.
              (10) When the victim is innocent, helpless or a person relies
           upon the trust of relationship and social norms, like  a  child,
           helpless  woman,  a  daughter  or  a  niece   staying   with   a
           father/uncle and is inflicted with the crime by such  a  trusted
           person.
              (11) When murder is committed for a  motive  which  evidences
           total depravity and meanness.
              (12) When there is a cold-blooded murder without provocation.
              (13) The crime is committed so brutally  that  it  pricks  or
           shocks not only the judicial conscience but even the  conscience
           of the society.


           Mitigating circumstances
              (1) The manner and  circumstances  in  and  under  which  the
           offence was committed, for example, extreme mental or  emotional
           disturbance or extreme provocation in contradistinction  to  all
           these situations in normal course.
              (2) The age of the accused is a  relevant  consideration  but
           not a determinative factor by itself.
           [pic]
              (3) The chances of the accused of not indulging in commission
           of the crime again and the  probability  of  the  accused  being
           reformed and rehabilitated.
              (4) The condition of the accused shows that he  was  mentally
           defective and the defect impaired his capacity to appreciate the
           circumstances of his criminal conduct.
              (5) The circumstances which, in normal course of life,  would
           render such a behaviour possible and could have  the  effect  of
           giving rise to mental imbalance in  that  given  situation  like
           persistent harassment or, in fact, leading to  such  a  peak  of
           human behaviour that, in the  facts  and  circumstances  of  the
           case, the accused believed that  he  was  morally  justified  in
           committing the offence.
              (6) Where the court upon proper appreciation of  evidence  is
           of the view that the crime was not committed  in  a  preordained
           manner and that the death resulted in the course  of  commission
           of another crime and that there was a possibility  of  it  being
           construed as consequences  to  the  commission  of  the  primary
           crime.
              (7) Where it is absolutely unsafe to rely upon the  testimony
           of a sole eyewitness though the prosecution has brought home the
           guilt of the accused.



      While determining the questions relating  to  sentencing  policy,  the
Court laid down the Principles at paragraph 77 which reads as follows:
              “77. While determining the questions relatable to  sentencing
           policy, the court has to follow  certain  principles  and  those
           principles are the loadstar besides the above considerations  in
           imposition or otherwise of the death sentence.
           Principles
              (1) The court has to apply the test to determine, if  it  was
           the “rarest of rare” case for imposition of a death sentence.
              (2) In the opinion of the  court,  imposition  of  any  other
           punishment i.e. life imprisonment would be completely inadequate
           and would not meet the ends of justice.
              (3) Life imprisonment is the rule and death  sentence  is  an
           exception.
              (4) The option to impose sentence of  imprisonment  for  life
           cannot be cautiously exercised having regard to the  nature  and
           circumstances of the crime and all relevant considerations.
              (5) The method (planned or otherwise) and the manner  (extent
           of brutality and  inhumanity,  etc.)  in  which  the  crime  was
           committed and the circumstances leading to  commission  of  such
           heinous crime.”



28.    Recently,  this  Court  in  Shankar  Kisanrao  Khade  vs.  State   of
Maharashtra, 2013 (5) SCC 546,  dealing  with  a  case  of  death  sentence,
observed:

              “52. Aggravating  circumstances  as  pointed  out  above,  of
           course, are not exhaustive so also the mitigating circumstances.
           In my considered view, the tests that we have  to  apply,  while
           awarding death sentence are “crime test”,  “criminal  test”  and
           the “R-R test” and not the  “balancing  test”.  To  award  death
           sentence, the “crime test” has to be fully satisfied,  that  is,
           100% and “criminal test” 0%, that is, no mitigating circumstance
           favouring the accused. If there is  any  circumstance  favouring
           the accused,  like  lack  of  intention  to  commit  the  crime,
           possibility of reformation, young age  of  the  accused,  not  a
           menace to the  society,  no  previous  track  record,  etc.  the
           “criminal test” may favour the  accused  to  avoid  the  capital
           punishment. Even if both the tests are satisfied, that  is,  the
           aggravating  circumstances  to  the  fullest   extent   and   no
           mitigating circumstances favouring the accused, still we have to
           apply finally the rarest of the rare case test (R-R  test).  R-R
           test depends upon the perception of the society that is “society-
           centric” and not “Judge-centric”, that is, whether  the  society
           will approve the awarding of death sentence to certain types  of
           crimes or not. While applying that test, the court has  to  look
           into variety  of  factors  like  society’s  abhorrence,  extreme
           indignation and antipathy to certain types of crimes like sexual
           assault and murder of  intellectually  challenged  minor  girls,
           suffering from physical disability, old and  infirm  women  with
           those disabilities, etc. Examples are only illustrative and  not
           exhaustive. The courts  award  death  sentence  since  situation
           demands so, due to constitutional compulsion, reflected  by  the
           will of the people and not the will of the Judges.”

29.   In the present case the appellant is an educated person, he was  about
26 years old at the time of committing the offence. The accused was a  tutor
in the family of the deceased-Noorjahan. He was  in  acquaintance  with  the
deceased as well as Zeenat Parveen (PW-3) and Razia Khatoon  (PW-4).   There
is nothing specific to suggest the motive for committing  the  crime  except
the articles and cash taken away by the accused. It is not the case  of  the
prosecution that the appellant cannot be reformed or that the accused  is  a
social menace. Apart from the incident in  question  there  is  no  criminal
antecedent of the appellant. It is true that the  accused  has  committed  a
heinous crime, but it cannot be held with certainty that this case falls  in
the “rarest of the rare category”. On appreciation  of  evidence  on  record
and keeping in mind the facts and circumstances of the case, we are  of  the
view that sentence of death penalty would be extensive and unduly harsh.

30.   Accordingly, we commute  the  death  sentence  of  appellant  to  life
imprisonment. The conviction and rest part of  the  sentence  are  affirmed.
Appeals are partly allowed.
                                                        ………………………………………………J.
                                         (H.L. DATTU)


                                                        ……….……………………………………J.
                                (SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA)


                                                        ………………………………………………J.
                                     (M.Y. EQBAL)

NEW DELHI,
JULY 3, 2014.

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