Supreme Court dismisses mother's plea against commutation of death sentence of man convicted for raping, killing her 4-yr old daughter

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In the review petition, the mother of the 4-year-old child had submitted that the court extended undue sympathy to the accused. It was further submitted that she and her deceased daughter would only get Justice when the death penalty awarded to the accused would be restored.

The Supreme Court has dismissed a review petition filed against its judgment in which the death sentence awarded to one Mohd. Firoz, who had been convicted for raping and murdering a 4-year-old girl, was commuted to life.

Court has held that it had taken the decision to commute the death penalty after bestowing attention to the relevant factors.

"As the record indicates, even after conclusion of hearing, certain material from the Probation Officer and Director General of Prison, Trained Psychiatrist were also called so that the matter pertaining to sentence to be awarded could be considered. Thus, the commutation of sentence of death to that of life imprisonment was done by the Court after bestowing attention to the relevant factors...", the order stated.

As per the order, after considering the landmark decisions in Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab and Machi Singh and Others v. State of Punjab, the Supreme Court did not deem it appropriate to sustain the sentence of death awarded under Section 302 of the IPC.

The three-judge bench has also said that the legislative policy under Sections 354 (3) and 235 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 was noted and the commutation as aforesaid was accordingly directed.

Moreover, the Top Court has also dismissed a petition preferred by an organization namely Bharatiya Stree Shakti who had also approached it seeking a review of the impugned judgment.

The review petition filed by the girl's mother stated, "While commuting the death sentence, the impugned judgment seems to have overlooked the cruel, diabolic, brutal, depraved and gruesome nature of the crime committed by accused".

Filed under Article 137 of the Constitution of India, the plea sought a kind review and reconsideration of the Judgment and Order dated April 19, 2022 whereby a bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi commuted the Death Sentence awarded to the accused and awarded sentence of imprisonment for a period of 20 years (instead of imprisonment for the remainder of his natural life) for the offence u/s 376A IPC.

The Supreme Court, in the impugned judgment authored by Justice Bela M Trivedi, remarked that,

"One of the basic principles of restorative justice as developed by this Court over the years, also is to give an opportunity to the offender to repair the damage caused, and to become a socially useful individual, when he is released from the jail. The maximum punishment prescribed may not always be the determinative factor for repairing the crippled psyche of the offender."

Justice Trivedi also quoted Oscar Wilde and said, “The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future”.

Referring to this statement, the review petition stated that her 3-years and 8-months old innocent daughter also had a future, however, she was deceitfully kidnapped, brutally raped and viciously murdered by the accused.

In the review plea, Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava argued that the judgment was passed without appreciating the cardinal principle of law that the order on sentence should not be influenced by Hon’ble Judge’s own views.