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Death sentence commuted to life imprisonment by the SC.

Supreme Court of India

Justice M R Shah, Justice U U Lalit and Justice Indira Banerjee

The SC {Manoj Suryavanshi v. State of Chhattisgarh} holds that striking the balance between aggravating circumstances and mitigating circumstances, in the facts and circumstances of the case, more particularly, the mental condition   of   the accused at   the   time   of the   commission   of   the offence   and   that   the   accused   was under   extreme   mental disturbance due to his wife eloped with the uncle of the deceased and his children were deprived of the company of their mother, the mitigating circumstances are in favour of the accused to convert the death sentence to life imprisonment. It was further held that it is true that the court must respond to the cry of the society and to settle what would be the deterrent punishment for an abominable crime.   It is also equally true   that   a   larger   number   of   criminals go   unpunished   thereby increasing   criminals   in   the   society   and   law losing   its   deterrent effect. It was further held that it is also true that the peculiar circumstances of a given case often results in miscarriage of justice and makes the justice delivery system a suspect; in the ultimate analysis, the society suffers and a criminal get encouraged. Further held sometimes it is stated that only rights of criminals are kept in mind, the victims are forgotten. However, it was held that at   the   same   time,   while   imposing the   rarest   of   rare punishment,   i.e.   death   penalty,   the   Court   must   balance   the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the crime and it would depend upon particular and peculiar facts and circumstances of each case. The mitigating circumstances, if are considered cumulatively and more particularly, that the accused was under the extreme mental disturbance, it was held that, in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, the death penalty is not warranted and the same be converted to life imprisonment.

Accordingly, the Judgment and Order passed by   the   learned   Trial   Court   and   confirmed   by   the   High   Court convicting the accused for the offences punishable under Sections 302   and   364   IPC   was   confirmed by the SC.       However,   the   death sentence imposed by the learned Trial Court, confirmed by the HighCourt, was   converted   into   the   life   imprisonment by the SC.

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