“We are not convinced that the probability of reform of the accused/appellant is low, in the absence of prior offending history and keeping in mind his overall conduct. ”
While commuting death sentence awarded to a man convicted for rape and murder of a five year old girl, the Supreme Court observed that death sentence must be imposed only when life imprisonment appears to be an altogether inappropriate punishment.
The bench comprising Justice NV Ramana, Justice Mohan M. Shanthanagoudar and Justice Indira Banerjee sentenced Sachin Kumar Singhraha to undergo a sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment (without remission).
The deceased kid was studying in LKG, while she faced the horror and succumbed to it. While confirming the conviction recorded by the Trial court, the Apex court bench observed that though there are certain discrepancies in the evidence and procedural lapses have been brought on record, the same would not warrant giving the benefit of doubt to the accused.
The bench, for holding that death penalty is not justified in this case, said that it is not convinced that the probability of reform of the accused is low, in the absence of prior offending history and keeping in mind his overall conduct. The court said:
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. As held by this Court in the case of Santosh Kumar Singh v. State through C.B.I., (2010) 9 SCC 747, sentencing is a difficult task and often vexes the mind of the Court, but where the option is between life imprisonment and a death sentence, if the Court itself feels some difficulty in awarding one or the other, it is only appropriate that the lesser punishment be awarded.
The bench then sentenced him to 25 years imprisonment observing that the sentence of life imprisonment simpliciter would be grossly inadequate.