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A 56-year-old man, facing gallows for brutally raping and murdering a three-year-old girl, has been spared death penalty by the High which has commuted it into life term.

The court considered a report of probation officer (PO) on possibilities of reformation and rehabilitation of convict Singh and concluded that he can be “reformed”.

The high court on April 17 had upheld the conviction and sentence awarded to Singh for raping the minor. However, it had deferred its decision as to whether Singh can be sent to the gallows for murder, as awarded by the trial court, or serve life imprisonment.

A bench of justices S Muralidhar and Mukta Gupta, which was to decide on the appeal of Singh and the death reference plea of the state, had asked the Delhi government to appoint a probation officer for giving a report as to whether there was any chance of convict being “rehabilitated or reformed” or if he is still a threat to the society.

“… Relevant to the present case, the court notes the positive feedback received by the PO from the jail authorities as regards the appellant’s (Singh) conduct in jail and his preparedness to render services to his old and ailing inmates.

“In light of the above reports, the court is persuaded to conclude that there exists a probability that convict can be reformed and rehabilitated. He has been in custody only since April 2011. In the course of his serving imprisonment for life, there would be sufficient opportunity to evaluate the positive effects of the correctional measures,” the court said.

The lower court had on January 15, 2013 awarded death penalty to Singh for the and life imprisonment for the rape of the child, saying the case “fell in the category of rarest of rare cases warranting the capital punishment”.

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