Death sentence commuted to 30 years for gruesome murder

The convict, after robbing the victim of Rs. 4 lakh, chopped off his head and threw it into a river and buried the body.

November 29, 2013 04:47 am | Updated 04:47 am IST - New Delhi:

Reiterating the dictum that life sentence is the rule and death sentence an exception, the Supreme Court on Thursday commuted the death sentence awarded by a trial court in Karnataka, and affirmed by the Karnataka High Court, to three accused in a case of brutal murder, to 30 years imprisonment.

The convict, after robbing Madhusudhan of Rs. 4 lakh, chopped off his head and threw it into a river and buried the body.

“The facts of the case did not warrant death penalty. The extreme penalty of death need not be inflicted except in gravest cases of extreme culpability,” a Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde said.

“Before opting for the death penalty, the circumstances of the offender are also required to be taken into consideration along with the circumstances of the crime for the reason that life imprisonment is the rule and death sentence is an exception.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Chauhan said the penalty of death sentence may be warranted only in a case where the court came to the conclusion that imposition of life imprisonment was totally inadequate.

“The balance sheet of aggravating and mitigating circumstances has to be drawn up and, in doing so, the mitigating circumstances have to be accorded full weightage and a just balance has to be struck between the aggravating and mitigating circumstances before the option is exercised.”

Quoting an earlier decision, the Bench said the circumstances and the manner of committing the crime had to be such that it pricked the judicial conscience of the court to the extent that the only and inevitable conclusion should be awarding of death penalty.

“Only the trunk of the body was found as the head was chopped off and thrown in the Nandi river. In spite of efforts made by the police, the head could not be recovered. However, the facts and circumstances involved in the instant case do not meet the requirement of rarest of rare cases and we are of the considered view that it is not a fit case where the death sentence awarded to the appellants should be affirmed.”

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