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Death for two in rape and murder case

Legal Correspondent

``The case falls in rarest of rare category''

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has slapped death sentence on two youths for raping an 18-year-old girl and murdering her.

A Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Lokeshwar Singh Panta said, ``proportion between crime and punishment is a goal respected in principle and in spite of errant notions, it remains a strong influence in the determination of sentences. Anything less than a penalty of greatest severity for any serious crime is thought to be a measure of toleration that is unwarranted and unwise. Uniformly disproportionate punishment has some undesirable practical consequences.''

Shivu and his accomplice, in their early 20s, were convicted and sentenced to death by the trial court for raping the girl and murdering her on October 15, 2001 in Badrenahalli village in Kollegal taluk. The Karnataka High Court confirmed the death sentence.

The appellants contended that the case was based on circumstantial evidence and there was no inference to prove the guilt of the accused. Therefore, death sentence was unwarranted, they argued.

Dismissing the appeal, the Bench said: ``Where a case rests squarely on circumstantial evidence, the inference of guilt can be justified only when all the incriminating facts and circumstances are found to be incompatible with the innocence of the accused or the guilt of any other person.''

The Bench said when evidence on record was analysed on the principles laid down, the inevitable conclusion was that the prosecution had established the guilt of the accused.

Writing the judgment, Mr. Justice Pasayat said for the offence of murder ``life imprisonment is the rule and death sentence is an exception.''

In rarest of rare cases when collective conscience of the community was so shocked that it would expect the holders of judicial power to inflict death penalty irrespective of their personal opinion as regards desirability or otherwise of retaining death penalty, death sentence could be awarded.

The Bench said: ``Death sentence can be imposed when the murder is committed in an extremely brutal, grotesque, diabolical, revolting or dastardly manner so as to arouse intense and extreme indignation of the community.''

The Bench said: ``We have no hesitation in holding that the case at hand falls in rarest of rare category and death sentence awarded by the trial court and confirmed by the High Court was appropriate.''

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