NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has commuted death penalty of a man in a case of killing his married sister as well as her paramour, saying the case did not fell in the "rarest of rare category" since he had no criminal antecedent and did not act in brutal manner while committing the offence.
A bench of Justices B R Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol partly allowed the appeal filed by Digambar but upheld conviction under Section 302 of the IPC of the appellant and his friend co-accused Mohan.
According to the prosecution, the appellants searched for his missing sister Pooja and found her out with her friend Govind on July 23, 2017. They convinced the duo to accompany with them as Digambar said he was ready to get them married since they were in love for the past five years. En route, Digambar stopped the motorcycle near a canal and tried to convince them that their relationship can't be solemnised as Pooja was already married with somebody else. As they were not ready to listen, he took out a sickle and killed both of them.
Interestingly, the accused himself went to Bhokar police station in Nanded and lodged an FIR that he had committed the two murders.
Hearing his appeal, the top court noted that the prosecution has proved the case on the basis of last seen evidence as the burden fell on them to explained what happened after the accused left with the deceased.
"However, the accused persons have utterly failed to discharge the said burden," the bench said.
The court thus said no interference would be warranted with the concurrent findings of the Trial Court and the High Court that the accused appellants are guilty of offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC.
However, with regard to punishment, the bench noted both the appellants do not have any criminal antecedents.
"The appellant-Digambar, who has been sentenced to capital punishment, was a young boy of
about 25 years at the time of the incident. The medical evidence would further reveal that the appellants have not acted in a brutal manner, inasmuch as there is only single injury inflicted on both the deceased. As such, we find that the present case cannot be considered to be ‘rarest of rare’ case," the bench said.
The court also pointed out, the report of the Probation Officer, Nanded as well as the Superintendent, Nashik Road Central Prison showed that the appellant-Digambar has been found to be well-behaved, helping and a person with leadership qualities.
He is not a person with criminal mindset and criminal records, it noted.
"We are, therefore, of the considered view that the High Court as well as the Trial Court erred in holding that the present case would fall under the ‘rarest of rare’ case to award capital punishment to appellant-Digambar," the bench said.
The court, however, dismissed an appeal by co-accused Mohan with regard to conviction and sentence of life imprisonment.