Supreme Court Refuses To Award Death Penalty In the Case of Rape And Murder of 9-Year-Old Girl From Telangana

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The Supreme Court has refused to apply the retrospective effect of the POCSO law on the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl. A Division Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph conducted the hearing. They heard the SLP preferred against the decision of the Trial Court and HC in the aforesaid matter.

Brief Facts of the Case 

Offences against infants are deemed to be the most heinous crimes across the globe. And to deter one from committing such a crime, the Court has to award the highest level of punishments. But, also they have to practice the reformation theory. 

The present case is of rape and murder of a 9-year-old child who hails from Kumarpally in Hanamkonda. On June 18, 2019, Polepaka Praveen alias Pawan kidnapped the girl from her house. She was then raped and murdered on the same day. He got caught by the girl’s family within a few hours, but by that time the girl was already dead. Cops filed a case against him in the Trial Court of Warangal. They filed it under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act, 2012. The Trial Court awarded a death penalty to the accused. 

After this decision, Pawan filed a petition in the High Court against the order passed by the Trial Court. The High Court modified the death penalty to life imprisonment. The Court said that the case did not fall in the ‘rarest of the rare’ category. The Court opined that granting the death penalty means that the State admits that they are incapable of reforming the convict. Hence the 25-year-old convict should get a chance to reform himself. The Court held that he shall not get any remission and shall not be released till his last breath. 

As a result, the Telangana Government moved to the Apex Court against the Hyderabad High Court order in the said case. 

Arguments before the Court

Advocate Binana Madhvan appeared on behalf of the petitioners. She submitted that a signal goes to the society by the imposition of the death sentence, she further said: 

“The imposition of the death sentence was included in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 with effect from 6th August 2019. The perpetrator committed the offence on 18/19.6.2019. Keeping in mind the intent of the Parliament, it should get a retrospective effect even though the provision is prospective in nature”.

Court’s Observation

The Court said that it fails to see how it can grant the retrospective effect when the punishment is to operate prospectively.

They find life imprisonment till death, a punitive punishment. It will suffice the purpose of sending the right signal to society. The Court said:

“We are of the view that the High Court has deemed it appropriate to impose the life sentence till the last breath. This Court under Article 136 of the Constitution should not interfere for the conversion to a death sentence as imposed by the Trial Court.”

Court’s Order

The Hon’ble Court dismissed the petition and upheld the decision of the High Court. Further, the pending application will stand dismissed. 


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