The Supreme Court commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment of a convict of rape and murder of an 8-year-old.
The bench comprising Justice S.A Bobde, R. Subhash Reddy and I. Rao stated that the appellant was charged under Section 5 and 6 of POCSO Act, 2012 along with Sections 302,363,366,367(2) of IPC.
The trial court on the basis of evidence which was circumstantial in nature finding the crime to be under the category of rarest of rare cases awarded death sentence to the convict. The appellant filed an appeal in the High Court which was dismissed and the court affirmed to confirming the death sentence.
The Supreme Court bench rested that the case was based completely on circumstantial evidence, where the deceased child’s brother who had accompanied her to the fair identified the accused in the Identification Parade. At the same time another witness (name unknown) confirmed seeing a dog run away with a human leg, another witness (name unknown) confirmed seeing the convict with the child who was wearing a yellow frock. Further detection showed a headless body in the bushes.
The last seen theory was applied by the courts and the forensic, as well as medical reports, proved the convict guilty of the hideous crime. However, the Supreme Court bench stated that within the meaning of Section 354(3) of CrPc the death penalty cannot be imposed as the case does not fall under the category of ‘rarest of rare’. It rejected the State’s theory of relying on the 2017 rape case, stating the case was based on not just the eye witness but also a dying declaration which is not the same in the present case. The bench believes there may be a chance of reformation and thus modified the penalty to 25 years of imprisonment from that of death sentence without any benefit of remission.