SUPREME COURT OF INDIA HAS UPHELD DEATH SENTENCE OF ACCUSED FOR COMMITTING RAPE AND MURDER OF MINOR CHILDREN

The Supreme Court has in a recent case of Manoharan vs. State by Inspector of Police, Variety Hall Police Station, Coimbatore, passed a judgment dated 01-08-2019 whereby the Court held the Appellant-Accused guilty of commission of offence of rape and murder of minor children and thus, confirmed the death sentence awarded to the Accused-Appellant.

The Appellant-Accused along with another person were accused of brutally raping a 10-year-old girl and thereafter, murdering the minor girl and her younger brother. The other accused person was later on shot dead in a police encounter, leaving only the Appellant to be tried as an accused. The Trial Court of Madras had held the Appellant guilty of criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, rape, murder, causing disappearance of evidence, etc, and awarded death sentence to him. The High Court of Madras also confirmed the death sentence awarded to the Appellant-Accused.

The Supreme Court upheld the death penalty awarded to the Appellant-Accused based on the following circumstances:

  1. As per the Apex Court’s judgment in Machhi Singh v. State of Punjab 1983, a death sentence may be awarded by a court when:
  • The murder is committed in an extremely brutal, barbaric or outrageous manner so as to shock the collective conscience of the community or arouse intense and extreme indignation amongst them.
  • The murder is committed for a motive which displays total immorality and meanness.
  • The murder is committed not for personal reasons but for political reasons or to terrorize the people living in a particular society, caste or community, etc.
  • When multiple murders are committed of a particular section of a society.
  • When the victim is an innocent child who could not have provoked the person to cause his/her murder.

Having regard to the nature and circumstances of the crime, if the court feels that the life imprisonment appears to be an inadequate punishment, and the aggravating circumstances weigh more than the mitigating circumstances, only then the court may award death penalty to an accused person.

2. In view of the significant amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, vide the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (the Law) that have been recently passed by the Parliament of India on 01-08-2019, the Supreme Court herein stated that the minimum punishment for commission of an offence of aggravated penetrative sexual assault, has been increased to imprisonment of 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment or death.

Applying the aforesaid principles and amendments, the Apex Court herein held that the Appellant-Accused along with the deceased person had committed aggravated penetrative sexual assault on the 10-year-old girl and cold-blooded murder of both the minor children in a most heinous manner possible. Thus, the Supreme Court upheld and confirmed the death penalty awarded to the Appellant-Accused.

Harini Daliparthy

Senior Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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