In a blow to death penalty abolitionists, the Supreme Court on Friday held that judiciary has never endeavoured to make death penalty redundant or non-existent. The courts have never tried to avoid awarding capital punishment in deserving cases.
"It has never been the effort of the Courts to somehow make this punishment [sentence of death] redundant and non-existent for all practical purposes," the Court observed in a judgment.
Though the apex court has held that capital punishment should be awarded only in the rarest of rare cases and even proposed extended prison term without remission, the judiciary cannot ignore death penalty as an alternative punishment as long as it remains in the law books.
"The quest for justice in such cases, with death sentence being awarded and maintained only in extreme cases, does not mean that the matter would be approached and examined in the manner that death sentence has to be avoided, even if the matter indeed calls for such a punishment," a Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar held.
The hunt for mitigating circumstances to help save a condemned prisoner from the noose should not be an excuse to forsake death penalty.
"The pursuit in collecting mitigating circumstances could also not be taken up with any notion or idea that somehow, some factor be found; or if not found, be deduced anyhow so that the sentence of death be forsaken. Such an approach would be unrealistic, unwarranted and rather not upholding the rule of law," the Court said.
The judgment was based on an appeal filed by a man condemned to death for brutally raping a mentally and physically challenged child.
The Court confirmed the death sentence, noting that the man’s conduct even after the crime has shown he was beyond reform. He is also accused of murdering a fellow jail inmate.