New Delhi: A history sheeter who was awarded death sentence for killing a one-year-old child escaped the noose with the Supreme Court on Friday reducing his punishment to 20 years in jail saying it is not the rarest of rare case.
A bench headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan said that the pendency of large number of criminal cases against the accused might be a factor which could be taken note of in awarding a sentence but, in any case, not a relevant factor for awarding capital punishment.
"We are of the view that this is a fit case where 20 years of rigorous imprisonment, without remission, to the appellant, over the period which he has already undergone, would be an adequate sentence and will render substantial justice," it said.
In this case the convict had shot at the child after her grandfather, who was holding her in his arms, refused to give Rs 100 to him allegedly for consuming liquor.
The trial court and the Madhya Pradesh High Court awarded him death sentence after noting that he has been charged in 24 other heinous cases. The apex court, however, reduced the sentence.
"We have no doubt in our mind that the accused had the full knowledge, if he fires the shot on the temporal area, that is between the forehead and the ear, it would result in death of the child of one year who was in the arms of her grandfather... Consequently, while affirming the conviction, we are not prepared to say that it is a rarest of rare case, warranting capital punishment," it said.
"True, when there are more than two dozen cases, of which three relate to the offence of murder, the usual plea of false implication by the defence has to be put on the back seat, and may have an impact on the sentencing policy, since the presence of the accused could be a continuing threat to the society and hence calls for longer period of incarceration," it said.