‘Convict Himself Has Minor Daughter, Chances Of Rehabilitation Can’t Be Ruled Out’: Madhya Pradesh High Court, Indore Bench.

In the case of Madhya Pradesh Versus Ankit Vijayvargiya S (CRRFC No.2/2020 and CRA No.3665/2020), the Madhya Pradesh High Court, Indore Bench recently commuted the death sentence of a man convicted of rape and murder of a 4-year-old girl, asserting that because he was the father of a minor girl, his possibilities of rehabilitation could not be ruled out. The death sentence of the Appellant was commuted to 20 years in jail by a division bench of Justice Subodh Abhayankar and Justice S.K. Singh.


Basic Facts of the case: The deceased’s parents had filed a missing person report for their daughter. The corpse of the dead was discovered in a rundown bungalow during a police search. The police arrested the Appellant, who confessed to his offence after additional inquiry. He revealed to the authorities that he grabbed the girl while she was asleep and raped her, and that he had to strangle her to death because she was screaming. The trial court found him guilty of violating Sections 363, 366-A, 376AB, 376A, 302, 201 of IPC, as well as Sections 5(m), 6 POCSO Act. Accordingly, the lower court sentenced the Appellant to death and forwarded the case to the Court for confirming the same. An appeal against his conviction was also preferred by the Appellant, who questioned the judgement of his conviction.


The Appellant contended in front of the Court that the case was founded only on circumstantial evidence, and that he was unfairly accused based on CCTV material that could not be checked clearly. He further claimed that, despite the fact that his case did not qualify as “rarest of rare,” the death punishment imposed on him was excessive. He also stated that given his young age, lack of criminal history, and a long life ahead of him, the possibility of his rehabilitation should not be ruled out. As a result, he asked that his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment if the Court found that no intervention in his conviction was warranted.


The State vehemently opposed the commutation, claiming that the dead was a four-year-old child who had her entire life ahead of her, which had been brought to an end by the Appellant’s salacious mentality. It was further claimed that the Appellant was a pervert who belonged nowhere in society. As a result, it was determined that no sentence less than the death penalty was necessary in order to provide fair justice in the case.


Judgement: After reviewing the parties’ representations and the trial court record, the Court concluded that nothing meaningful could be gleaned from the witnesses’ statements. The DNA evidence, however, plainly revealed the Appellant’s involvement, according to the Court. Analyzing key Apex Court rulings on murder and injuries inflicted on the deceased by their individual offenders, the Court concluded that, given the high threshold established for cruelty, bringing a case within the ‘rarest of the rare’ category has become extraordinarily difficult. The Court also stated that a capital punishment that is not carried out within a reasonable time loses its impact on the public. In light of the circumstances, the Court upheld the Appellant’s conviction, but instead of the death penalty, it decided to give him a term of twenty years. As a result, the reference was decided, and the appeal was partly allowed.



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