Law Commission of India had recommended abolition of the death penalty for all crimes other than terrorism.
Supreme Court commuted to life term capital punishment awarded to a convict for murder, noting that death penalty “breaches reformative theory of punishment under criminal law”.
Apex Court Bench comprising of Justice P C Ghose & Justice Rohinton F Nariman also underlined that the death penalty had in fact become a “distinctive feature” of the criminal law in India, and that Supreme Court had been encouraging discussion and debate on this subject.
SC Bench expounded that,“Today when the capital punishment has become a distinctive feature of death penalty apparatus in India which somehow breaches reformative theory of the punishment under the criminal law..”.
Bench recalled that the Apex court had recently referred to the Law Commission to study issue of death penalty in India to “allow for an up-to-date & informed discussion & debate on this subject”.
In its 262nd Report, Bench noted, that Law Commission of India had recommended abolition of death penalty for all crimes other than the terrorism-related offences and waging war offences affecting the national security.
Making these observations, Supreme Court stated that it was not inclined to award the capital punishment to convict in the murder case.
“Therefore, confinement till natural life of the accused respondent shall fulfill the requisite criteria of punishment in peculiar facts and circumstances of the present case,” it held.
Supreme Court was hearing an appeal by the Maharashtra Govt, which had pressed for the death penalty for Nisar Ramzan Sayyed, who had in October 2010 set his pregnant wife on fire & thrown his minor son into the blaze, causing their death. While the trial court sent Sayyed to gallows, the HC had acquitted him for want of concrete proof.
Apex Court, after taking note of dying declaration of his wife and the other circumstantial evidence, held that Sayyed’s guilt was proved beyond the reasonable doubt but this was not “rarest of the rare case” that warranted him to be sentenced to death.
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