SC: Recovery should be based on accused’s voluntary disclosure of facts

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, today, i.e. on 5th December 2018, in the matter of Viran Gyanlal Rajput v. The State of Maharashtra observed that kidnapping a girl of the tender age of 13 years, taking her to a secluded area and committing the act of rape and subsequently murdering her by strangulation and burying her body in a field, having disrobed her completely, though is a crime of abominable nature, but it cannot be said to be of such a brutal, depraved, heinous or diabolical nature so as to fall into the category of the rarest of rare cases and invite punishment with death. However it was also observed that a sentence of life imprisonment simpliciter would not be proportionate to the gravity of the offence committed, and would not meet the need to respond to crimes against women and children in the most stringent manner possible.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court also observed that:

Although it is true that the recovery of articles is to be made based on the statement of the accused immediately after the arrest of the accused and recording his statement, the recovery should be based on the voluntary action relating to showing of the place by the accused. Therefore, unless the accused volunteers to show the place of hiding certain things/facts, the recovery cannot be made by the investigating officers. (Para 7)

In a given case, the accused may confess ten or fifteen days after his arrest and as such the recovery cannot be suspected on this ground alone. (Para 7)

Life imprisonment is the rule and the death penalty is the exception, and the death penalty is to be imposed only when the alternative of life imprisonment is totally inadequate, and therefore unquestionably foreclosed, i.e. if it is the only inevitable conclusion (Para 10)

While determining the sentence, it is equally important for the Court to consider the aggravating circumstances of the crime and the mitigating circumstances of the criminal. (Para 10)

Kidnapping a girl of the tender age of 13 years, taking her to a secluded area and committing the act of rape and subsequently murdering her by strangulation and burying her body in a field, having disrobed her completely, though is a crime of abominable nature, but it cannot be said to be of such a brutal, depraved, heinous or diabolical nature so as to fall into the category of the rarest of rare cases and invite punishment with death. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 10 of the judgement)

Lack of criminal antecedents prior to commission of crime and conduct of the criminal post incarceration strongly suggests possibility of reform.(This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 10 of the judgement)

A sentence of life imprisonment simpliciter would not be proportionate to the gravity of the offence committed, and would not meet the need to respond to crimes against women and children in the most stringent manner possible. (Para 11)

Copy of Judgement : Judgement 05-Dec-2018

-Tushar Kaushik

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