Death sentence.

Considerations to award death sentence

Where possibility of reformation can not be ruled out, death sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

Death SentencePenal Code 1860, Section 360.

The appellant was the State President of the Youth Congress in Delhi. The deceased was a qualified pilot and she was also the State General Secretary of Youth Congress (Girls Wing), Delhi. She was an independent lady, who was capable of taking her own decisions. From the evidence on record, it cannot be said that she was not in touch with people residing outside the four walls of her house. Evidence discloses that even on the date of incident at around 4.00 p.m. she had contacted PW-12 Matloob Karim. She was not a poor illiterate hapless woman. Considering the social status of the deceased, it would be difficult to come to the conclusion that the appellant was in a dominant position qua her. The appellant was deeply in love with the deceased and knowing full well that the deceased was very close to PW-12 Matloob Karim, he married her hoping that the deceased would settle down with him and lead a happy life. The evidence on record establishes that they were living together and were married but unfortunately, it appears that the deceased was still in touch with PW-12 Matloob Karim. It appears that the appellant was extremely possessive of the deceased. The evidence on record shows that the appellant suspected her fidelity and the murder was the result of this possessiveness.

Consideration of compassion in awarding death sentence:

“We have noted that when the appellant was taken to Lady Hardinge Mortuary and when the dead body was shown to him, he started weeping. It would be difficult, therefore, to say that he was remorseless. The fact that he absconded is undoubtedly a circumstance which will have to be taken against him, but the same, in our considered view, would be more relevant to the issue of culpability of the accused which we have already decided against him rather than the question of what would be the appropriate sentence to be awarded which is presently under consideration. The medical evidence does not establish that the dead body of the deceased was cut. The second post-mortem report states that no opinion could be given as to whether the dead body was cut as dislocation could be due to burning of the dead body. There is no recovery of any weapon like chopper which could suggest that the appellant had cut the dead body. It is pertinent to note that no member of the family of the deceased came forward to depose against the appellant. In fact, in his evidence, PW-81 IO Niranjan Singh stated that the brother and sister-in-law of the deceased stated that they were under the obligation of the appellant and they would not like to depose against him. Murder was the outcome of strained personal relationship. It was not an offence against the Society. The appellant has no criminal antecedents. He is not a confirmed criminal and no evidence is led by the State to indicate that he is likely to revert to such crimes in future. It is, therefore, not possible in the facts of the case to say that there is no chance of the appellant being reformed and rehabilitated. We do not think that that option is closed. Though it may not be strictly relevant, we may mention that the appellant is the only son of his parents, who are old and infirm. As of today, the appellant has spent more than 10 years in death cell. Undoubtedly, the offence is brutal but the brutality alone would not justify death sentence in this case. The above mitigating circumstances persuade us to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment. In several judgments, some of which, we have referred to hereinabove, this Court has made it clear that life sentence is for the whole of remaining life subject to the remission granted by the appropriate Government under Section 432 of the Cr.P.C., which, in turn, is subject to the procedural checks mentioned in the said provision and further substantive checks in Section 433-A of the Cr.P.C. We are inclined to issue the same direction.
……. We have already confirmed the conviction of the appellant for offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC and for offence punishable under Section 120-B read with Section 201 of the IPC. In view of the above discussion, we commute the death sentence awarded to appellant – Sushil Sharma to life sentence. We make it clear that life sentence is for the whole of remaining life of the appellant subject to the remission granted by the appropriate Government under Section 432 of the Cr.P.C., which, in turn, is subject to the procedural checks mentioned in the said provision and further substantive checks in Section 433-A of the Cr.P.C.

[Source: Supreme Court in Sushil Sharma vs State (Nct) of Delhi on 8 October, 2013]
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