Holding that no leniency should be shown in cases of kidnap, demand for ransom and murder, the Supreme Court on Tuesday slapped a death sentence on an accused who kidnapped a seven-year old boy and strangulated him to death for failure to pay the ransom of Rs. 5 lakh.

A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and J.S. Khehar said “the court will not only have to examine what is just but also what the accused deserves keeping in view the impact on the society at large. Every punishment imposed is bound to have its effect not only on the accused alone but also on the society as a whole. Thus, the courts should consider retributive and deterrent aspect while imposing the extreme punishment of death.”

The Bench upheld an order of the Madras High Court confirming a trial court verdict of death sentence to Sundar alias Sundararajan of Karkudal village in Virudachalam taluk in Tamil Nadu.

The prosecution case was that the appellant kidnapped Suresh from a school on July 27, 2007, and demanded Rs. 5 lakh as ransom for his release. Since the amount was not paid, he killed the boy the same night, put the body in a gunny bag and threw it in the Meerankulam tank. He was found guilty of the offence under Section 364A of the Indian Penal Code (kidnapping for ransom).

Justice Khehar said “the accused caused the murder of the seven-year old boy. Kidnapping of a child was committed with the motive of carrying home a ransom. On account of the non-payment of ransom, the murder was committed. This demonstrates that the accused had no value for human life. The instant circumstance demonstrates extreme mental perversion not worthy of human condonation. The facts and circumstances of the case do not depict any previous enmity between the parties. There is no grave and sudden provocation, which had compelled the accused to take the life of an innocent child. The murder of a child, in such circumstances makes this a case of extreme culpability.”

The Bench said “The manner in which the child was murdered and the approach and method adopted by the accused disclose the traits of outrageous criminality in the behaviour of the accused. The child was first strangulated to death, the body was then tied in a gunny bag and it was thrown into a water tank. All this was done in a well thought out and planned manner. This approach of the accused reveals a brutal mindset of the highest order. Murder was committed, not of a stranger, but of a child with whom the accused was acquainted. This conduct of the accused-appellant, places the facts of this case in the abnormal and heinous category.”

The Bench said “the choice of kidnapping the particular child for ransom was well planned and consciously motivated.

The parents of the deceased had four children – three daughters and one son. Kidnapping the only male child was to induce maximum fear in the mind of his parents. Purposefully killing the sole male child has grave repercussions for the parents of the deceased. Agony for parents for the loss of their only male child, who would have carried further the family lineage, and is expected to see them through their old age, is unfathomable. Extreme misery caused to the aggrieved party, certainly adds to the aggravating circumstances.”

The Bench said “we find no justification whatsoever, in interfering with the impugned order of the High Court, either on merits or on the quantum of punishment. In the instant situation therefore, the guilt of the accused-appellant must be considered to be of the gravest nature, justifying the harshest punishment prescribed for the offence.”