In a landmark judgment, the Gauhati High Court awarded life imprisonment to a 24-year-old youth, convicted of the rape and murder of a three-year-old girl.

While deciding to stay the death penalty awarded to rickshaw puller Sujit Biswas by a trial court, a Division Bench comprising Justices Amitava Roy and P.K. Mushahary said: “As we revert to the aspect of sentence to be awarded, we are left unconvinced that death penalty is the inevitable option in the facts of the case and life imprisonment cannot by any measure be construed to be an alternative. The accused appellant is young and belongs to the weaker section of society. He lives hand-to-mouth and is otherwise denied even minimum reasonable essentials of human existence. No similar criminal antecedent has been brought on record. He, however, needs to be isolated from society, being otherwise formidably risky for its healthy and orderly sustenance. We, therefore, are of the considered view that sentence of life imprisonment meaning imprisonment for rest of life as expounded by the Apex Court in Swami Sraddhananda versus State of Karnataka, 2008 AIR SCW 5110 would meet the ends of justice.”

The trial court found Biswas guilty of raping and murdering a three-year-old in the city's Nepali Mandir locality in October, 2007. When the girl's family enquired about her after she went missing from a puja, Biswas agreed to provide information in lieu of money. He took them to a place where a sack was lying on the road. When the sack was opened, the girl was still breathing.

Seeing her alive, Biswas tried to flee. He was chased and handed over to the police by the public. Biswas reportedly confessed that after raping the girl he bludgeoned her with a brick and packed her in the gunny bag thinking she was dead.

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