The High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday rejected the plea of B.A. Umesh alias Umesh Reddy, who was sentenced to death in a rape and murder case, for commutation of death penalty to life imprisonment, claiming “compelling supervening circumstances”.
However, the High Court extended for six weeks the stay granted against his execution on October 20, 2016, on a plea made by his advocate seeking time to file an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging today’s order.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Pradeep Singh Yerur passed the order while dismissing Reddy’s plea filed in 2016. He had filed the petition on October 17, 2016, when the prison authorities were preparing for execution of the death sentence and were awaiting orders from the jurisdictional court as the Supreme Court on October 3, 2016, had rejected his review plea against its order of confirming the death penalty.
It was claimed in Reddy’s petition that the death sentence had become “non-executable” due to delay of over two years in disposal of the mercy petition filed by his mother, by the President of India, resulting in his confinement to solitary imprisonment for 10 years.
Reddy had suffered mental illness due to prolonged solitary imprisonment and all these circumstances fall under the “compelling supervening circumstances” defined by the apex court for commuting death penalty to life imprisonment, it was stated in the petition.
It was argued on behalf of Reddy that he had filed this petition “not as an accused” but as a “victim of violation of fundamental rights” for injustice caused to him due to delay in disposal of mercy petition.
Umesh, a former reserve police constable, was involved in a series of rape and murder cases in Karnataka and other States. The police described him a “psychopath serial killer” who raped women before killing them and sexually abusing victims even after murdering them.
Though he was convicted in several cases, the case in which the stage was set for his execution in 2016 was related to 1998 incident of rape and murder of a widow at her house in Peenya in Bengaluru.
The trial court in 2006 had sentenced him to death and it was confirmed by the High Court in February 2009. The apex court on February 1, 2011, upheld the death penalty imposed on him, and his mother, Gowramma, filed a mercy petition before the President, who rejected mercy plea in May 2013.