The Supreme Court modified a man's death sentence to life in prison on Friday after finding him to be “well-behaved” and devoid of a criminal attitude. He had been convicted of killing his sister and her partner in 2017.
On appeals filed by two criminal defendants, one of whom received the death penalty and the other a life sentence, a bench presided over by Justice B R Gavai rendered its decision. They had contested the Bombay High Court's ruling from December 2021.
Their appeals against the trial court's decision were denied by the high court, which also upheld one of them's death sentence.
The Supreme Court acknowledged that no intervention was necessary with the concurrent convictions for murder by the trial court and the high court, but added that the sole issue was whether the case qualified as one of the rarest of the rare to merit the death sentence.
The appellant Digambar, who was given the death penalty, was a young man of around 25 years old at the time of the occurrence, according to the bench, which was also made up of Justices Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol. The panel also noted that neither appellant had any criminal history.
The medical testimony also demonstrates that the appellants did not behave brutally since each of the dead only sustained one injury. We conclude that the current case cannot be regarded as the “rarest of rare” cases as a result, the court concluded.
In any case, the appellant Digambar has been deemed to be well-behaved, helpful, and a person with leadership skills, according to the reports of the Probation Officer in Nanded and the Superintendent of Nashik Road Central Prison. He does not have a criminal attitude or a criminal history, the statement said.
The supreme court said that it was of the considered opinion that the high court and the trial court had erred in determining that Digambar's case would qualify as one of the “rarest of rare” to result in the imposition of death penalty.
“We consequently lean towards partially allowing appellant Digambar's appeal. However, we find that there is no justification to intervene in the case of the appellant Mohan, who was given a life sentence, it said.
The top court stated that Digambar's sister, who had been having an affair for five years, married a guy in June 2017 and left her marital house without telling anybody in July 2017.
It was said that her husband had reported her missing to the police on the same day, and Digambar was suspicious that she could have gone with that individual since he knew about the affair.
In its ruling, the court observed that Digambar and the accused both located the victims and attacked them, ultimately killing them.
The bench said that Digambar immediately ran to the police station and turned himself up.
Although Digambar's conviction for murder under section 302 of the IPC was upheld, the death penalty was substituted for life in prison, according to the statement.