Not All Brutal/Heinous Crimes Are Rarest Of The Rare Case: Supreme Court

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Case: Sukhlal v State of Madhya Pradesh

Judge: Justice AK Sikri, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S Abdul Nazeer

“Life imprisonment is the rule and death penalty is the exception”

The Supreme Court when passing a judgement on capital punishments follows the principle of life imprisonment is the rule and death penalty is the exception also makes it clear that even the heinous and brutal crimes do not fall under the category of rarest of the rare case.

On November 20, 2018, in the case of Sukhlal v State of Madhya Pradesh the judgement comprising of three judge bench of Justice AK Sikri, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S Abdul Nazeer passed the capital judgement of death penalty to Sukhlal who was found guilty of murdering a lady in whose hose he was a gardener. The offence was proved beyond reasonable doubts and with satisfactory evidence by prosecution and thus he was convicted by the trail courts and the high courts.

Taking reference in the case of Bachpan Singh the court has observed that “Time and again, this Court has categorically held that life imprisonment is the rule and death penalty is the exception and even when the crime is heinous or brutal, it may not still fall under the category of rarest of rare.

The Indian Laws have clearly categorized the offences which amount to Capital Punishments where in:

120B IPC – Criminal Conspiracy

302 & 303 IPC – Murder

305 IPC – Abatement of suicide of a minor abetting Sati

But not all the judgement passed in these offences fall under the case of rarest of the rare case. It depends on the facts of the case to decide whether the case is the rarest of the case or not.

Commuting the death sentence to that of life imprisonment with a cap of 18 years, the bench further added: “Bachan Singh (supra) in no unequivocal terms sets out that death penalty shall be awarded only in the rarest of rare cases where life imprisonment shall be wholly inadequate or futile owing to the nature of the crime and the circumstances relating to the criminal. Whether the person is capable of reformation and rehabilitation should also be taken into consideration while imposing the death penalty.”

Live Law has further published a report on death penalty where in it talks about the cases where in even the heinous/brutal crimes may or may not fall under rarest of the rare case.

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