SC commutes death sentence to life in brutal murder case



New Delhi: Although there has been demand from various sections of society to hang rapists, the Supreme Court is of the view that the mental condition of an accused be examined before before putting the offence in the rarest of rare category.

The Apex court has commuted the death sentence of a convict, who had brutally killed a woman and raped her relative, to life on the ground that he was drunk at the time of committing the offence.

A bench of justices Swatanter Kumar (now retired) and Madan B Lokur had held just days before the Delhi gang-rape case that the manner in which the crime was committed and the mental condition of accused must be examined before putting the offence in the rarest of rare category.

"It is not only the crime and its various facets which are the foundation for formation of special reasons as contemplated under Section 354(3) of the CrPC (pertaining to death sentence) for imposing death penalty but it is also the criminal, his background," the bench had said.

In the case, convict Sainath Kailash Abhang (then 23 year old) had, on September 10, 2007, entered the woman's house in Pune and had killed her. He had then mercilessly chopped off the wrist of her left hand and four fingers of the right hand.

After committing the gruesome act, he repeatedly assaulted a pregnant relative of the deceased and raped her.

The court after going through all the evidences, including the statement of the injured lady, who said the convict was drunk, granted him the relief.

According to witness, he smelled of alcohol and his eyes were red.

"Both these factors show that the accused may have been drunk and he may not exactly be aware of the consequences of his acts," it had said.

The bench commuted the convict's death penalty into life imprisonment saying "the accused was not in a balanced state of mind."

"It is evident from the evidence on record that the accused was not in a balanced state of mind and, in fact, had no control over his mind.

He was unable to decipher the consequences of his crime and the result that was likely to flow from such commission.

"In the facts and circumstances of the case, the court cannot ignore such an abnormal behaviour of the accused," the bench had said.

The bench had said if the accused had intended to kill deceased and other injured lady, it would not have inflicted 21 and 19 injures on their bodies respectively and he could have simply given an injury on the vital parts of their body for putting them to death.

"His conduct in inflicting large number of injuries and even amputating the fingers of the deceased clearly reflects the conduct of an abnormal person. Absence of normal behaviour even during the commission of the crime is a relevant consideration," the bench said.

"The trial court as well as the high court has not considered, in its correct perspective, the state of mind of the accused at the relevant time, his capacity to realise the consequences of the crime he was committing and the lack of intent on his part to commit the murder.

"The accused had not entered the house with the intention to kill either of them," the bench had said.

"We partially allow the appeal of the appellant and commute the death sentence to that of rigorous imprisonment for life. The life imprisonment shall be for life and the sentences shall run consecutively," the court said.

PTI