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SC Commutes Death Penalty of Man Who Raped, Killed 4-Yr-Old. A Look at 5 Such Orders Since 2020

The Supreme Court this week commuted the death sentence of a man convicted of the rape and murder a four-year-old girl in a Madhya Pradesh village in April 2013.

Commuting the sentence, a bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi observed that maximum punishment prescribed may not always be the determinative factor for repairing the crippled psyche of the offender.

The apex court observed in its judgement delivered on April 19 that an opportunity should be given to the offender to repair the damage caused, and to become a socially useful individual, when he is released from the jail, news agency ANI reported.

The report said the judges while commuting the death sentence quoted author Oscar Wilde: “Only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future”.

Here’s a look at recent instances in which the Supreme Court commuted the death penalty of rapists and murderers convicted for harming children:

February 2022: Supreme Court commutes death sentence awarded to a 40-year-old for raping and murdering a seven-year-old girl in Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh in 2015. A three-judge bench imposes the condition that the convict will not be granted remission till he serves 30 years in prison.

“His unblemished jail conduct and having a family of wife, children and aged father would also indicate towards the probability of his reformation.”

March 2022: Supreme Court stays the operation of death sentence awarded to a man for raping and killing a 11-year-old girl in Dehradun in 2018.

The apex court, while hearing the appeal filed by the convict against the January 2020 verdict of the Uttarakhand High Court, directed that psychological evaluation of the appellant be done and its report be placed before the court. The matter will be taken up again on May 4, 2022.

December 2021: Supreme Court commutes death penalty of a man convicted of raping and killing a three-year-old girl in 2016.

The top court says the trial court as well as the high court in Chhattisgarh only took into consideration the crime but not the criminal, his state of mind, his socio-economic background.

“It cannot be said that there is no possibility of the appellant being reformed and rehabilitated foreclosing the alternative option of a lesser sentence and making imposition of death sentence imperative.”

November 2021: The death sentence of a man convicted for raping and strangulating to death a five-year-old girl in Karnataka’s Gadag district is commuted to life imprisonment. The commuting of the sentence is conditional on the convict spending at least 30 years in jail without remission.

The top court bench commuted the sentence after considering the convict’s age at the time of offence, his socio-economic background, absence of criminal history and behaviour in jail for previous 10 years.

“There is no doubt that the appellant has committed an abhorrent crime, and for this we believe that incarceration for life will serve as sufficient punishment… in the absence of any material to believe that if allowed to live, he poses a grave and serious threat to the society…”

November 2020: Supreme Court commutes death penalty awarded to a man who raped and killed his two-and-a-half-year old niece in Maharashtra in 2013.

According to media reports, the court said that while the sexual assault against the minor was “very severe” and the conduct of the convict “perverse and barbaric”, he did not consciously cause any injury with the intent to kill the victim. The convict was the maternal uncle of the victim.

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