Noting that crime against women are on the rise and courts are too soft on the perpetrators, the Supreme Court held that in heinous crimes which both shock and repulse society, the extreme punishment of death is justified.
An unforgiving Supreme Court declared this while confirming the death penalty of two men who gang-raped and brutally murdered a 22-year-old BPO employee on November 1, 2007 night after she was picked by her company cab to the office.
The cab driver Purushottam Borate and his friend Pradeep Kokate drove her to a nearby jungle despite her protests, raped her and smashed her head, killing her instantly and then drove back to town after a hiatus of two hours to pick up the next employee to work.
The court said the duo exploited their “position of trust” to commit an “extreme act of depravity” and then acted in a “calculated and remorseless” manner after the commission of the offence.
“This depravity would attract no lesser sentence than the death penalty,” a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu held in a verdict on Friday.
Noting that the crime falls within the “rarest of rare”, the court held that the collective conscience of the community is so shocked by this crime that imposing a lesser sentence, even life imprisonment, would fail justice.
The court noted how in recent years, the rising crime rate, particularly violent crimes against women has made the criminal sentencing by the courts a subject of concern.
“The sentencing policy adopted by the Courts, in such cases, ought to have a stricter yardstick so as to act as a deterrent. There are a shockingly large number of cases where the sentence of punishment awarded to the accused is not in proportion to the gravity and magnitude of the offence thereby encouraging the criminal and in the ultimate making justice suffer by weakening the system’s credibility,” the Chief Justice observed.
Citing a precedent, Chief Justice Dattu held that “the extreme punishment of death would be justified and necessary in cases where the collective conscience of society is so shocked that it will expect the holders of judicial power to inflict death penalty irrespective of their personal opinion”.