New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday commuted
the death sentence imposed on a man, who murdered his
neighbour`s two minor children in the capital`s Subhashnagar
area in 2003 over a financial matter, saying it did not fall
in the "rarest of rare" category.
Rajesh Kumar had killed the two children as he was
agitated over their father`s reported refusal to give him some
A bench of justices D K Jain and Asok Kumar Ganguly
reduced the death sentence given to Kumar to life imprisonment
while observing that the Delhi High Court had failed to
appreciate that the murders though brutal did not fall under
the "rarest of rare" category to warrant death penalty.
"In the instant case State has failed to show that the
appellant is a continuing threat to society or that he is
beyond reform and rehabilitation.
"It is clear from the aforesaid finding of the High Court
that there is no evidence to show that the accused is
incapable of being reformed or rehabilitated in society and
the High Court has considered the same as a neutral
"In our view the High Court was clearly in error. The
very fact that the accused can be rehabilitated in society and
is capable of being reformed, since the State has not given
any evidence to the contrary, is certainly a mitigating
circumstance and which the High Court has failed to take into
consideration," the bench observed.
The apex court passed the judgement while partly allowing
Kumar`s appeal challenging the death sentence. Kumar had
entered the house of his neighbour and relative Mukesh Sethi
and killed the two children-Anshul(4) and Harshit (8 months)
by smashing them on the ground on July 28, 2003.
The Sessions court awarded him death sentence and the
high court affirmed the same following which the convict
appealed in the apex court.
"The High Court, with respect, has taken a very narrow
and a myopic view of the mitigating circumstances about the
"We are, therefore, constrained to observe that the High
Court’s view of mitigating circumstance has been very
truncated and narrow in so far as the appellant is concerned,"
the bench said.
The apex court said unfortunately the High Court fell
into an error by approving the death sentence "as it was
swayed by the cruel manner in which the two children were done
to death by the appellant."
The defence had pleaded that the convict had two sons, a
wife and a widowed mother to support, he was just 37 years
when he committed the crime and the possibility of his
rehabilitation in the society being not ruled out, nor was he
a continuing threat to the society.