The death sentence must be imposed only when life imprisonment appears to be an altogether inappropriate punishment, the Supreme Court has said while commuting the capital punishment awarded to a man for raping and killing a five-year-old girl. A bench of justices N V Ramana, M M Shantanagoudar and Indira Banerjee said that punishment should be given with regard to the relevant facts and circumstances of the crime.
The bench commuted the death sentence of convict Sachin Kumar Singhraha and asked him to undergo a jail term of 25 years without remission. The case related to the rape of a minor child, who later succumbed to the injuries in February 2015 in Satna District of Madhya Pradesh.
Upholding the conviction awarded by the trial court, the apex court said on Tuesday that even though there were certain discrepancies in the evidence and procedural lapses were brought on record, the same would not warrant giving the benefit of doubt to the accused. The top court, however, held that death penalty given by the trial court and later confirmed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court was not justified in this case.
The bench said it was not convinced that the probability of reform of the accused was low in the absence of prior offending history and keeping in mind his overall conduct. "As has been well settled, life imprisonment is the rule to which the death penalty is the exception. The death sentence must be imposed only when life imprisonment appears to be an altogether inappropriate punishment, having regard to the relevant facts and circumstances of the crime," the bench said.
(With inputs from agencies.)