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An Appeal to reverse the punishment of death sentence succeeds: Bombay high court.

On Wednesday, the 27th of July, in the year 2022, the Bombay high court passed a judgement to change the death sentence awarded by a learned additional sessions judge to the Appellant, to a more fitting punishment of life imprisonment. The verdict was passed in the case of The State of Maharashtra vs. Santosh S/o. Ramdas Kalwe (Criminal Appeal No. 368 Of 2018) by the Honourable Mr. Justice S. B. Shukre and the Honourable Mr. Justice G. A. Sanap.

Facts of the case:

In this appeal, the challenge is to the judgment and order dated 05.05.2018, passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge of Nagpur wherein the learned Judge convicted the appellant for commission of the offences under Sections 302, 364-A and 201 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to death for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC. The learned Judge also awarded the term sentence for the offences punishable under Sections 364-A and 201 of the IPC. The learned Additional Sessions Judge, Nagpur has also made reference to this Court for confirmation of death sentence awarded to the appellant. The appeal and reference are being disposed of by this common judgment.

The facts giving rising to this appeal are the “The informant” that is Nitin Natthuji Borkarand who is the father of the deceased Yash. In this case the deceased Yash was kidnapped from his home by the appellant. The appellant asked for a ransom of 2 lakh rupees and threatened to make the informant pay for his mistake if the ransom is not paid. The next day the appellant was apprehended, and he expressed his desire to show where the body of the child was hidden after committing the murder. The confessional statement was recorded in presence of the Panchas. The informant identified the body that was found, as his son and the body was sent for post-mortem. On completion of investigation, the investigating officer filed the charge sheet in the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class, Nagpur. On committal of the case to the Sessions Court, the learned Additional Sessions Judge framed the charge against the appellant. The appellant pleaded not guilty. His defence was of total denial and false implication. The learned appellate judge nonetheless passed an order of death sentence after evaluating the whole case.

Judgement:

The court while perusing through the aggravating and mitigating circumstances listed in the Judgment by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, the court finds that the learned Additional Sessions Judge has not properly evaluated the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. It is to be noted that the learned Additional Sessions Judge has failed to consider that the case of the prosecution was totally based on circumstantial evidence and when the case is based on circumstantial evidence there is always a scope and possibility of residual doubt in the mind of Court about the guilt of the accused. The circumstantial evidence may be sufficient to hold the accused guilty but prior to awarding the death sentence the Court must be satisfied that the crime, criminal and the rarest of the rare category tests are fully satisfied. In many established cases, it is held that the life imprisonment is the rule, and the death sentence is an exception.

The court hence declared that the case does not fall in the rarest of the rare category. Therefore, the court is inclined to accept the submissions made by the learned Advocate for the appellant on this point and the death sentence is required to be quashed and set aside. The court concluded that the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for life would meet the ends of justice.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY TANAV ZACHARIAH.

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