The Supreme Court while considering a plea for the premature release of a prisoner has observed, "This Court is not an institution to sermonise society on morality and ethics and we say no further on this score, bound as we are, by the brooding presence of the rule of law."

Finding that the Appellant never tried to murder her sons with a view to continuing her illicit relationship, and on the contrary, she had tried to commit suicide herself along with her children not with a view to continuing her illicit relationship with her paramour but rather, in disappointment and frustration over the quarrel picked up by her paramour, a Two Judge Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi, and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah observed that “it cannot be simply bracketed as a ‘cruel and brutal’ offence as the Appellant herself was trying to end her life but was prevented by her niece in the nick of time”.

Senior Advocate S. Nagamuthu and AOR Raghunatha Sethupathy B. appeared for the Appellant, whereas, AOR Dr. Joseph Aristotle S. appeared for the Respondent.

Going by the facts of the case, the Appellant had an affair with one Suresh, who used to threaten her often. This led her to take the decision to commit suicide along with her children. Although she claimed that she brought pesticides for her, the same was consumed by her children, who were declared dead on arrival in the hospital leading to the institution of FIR under Section 302 of IPC. The Trial court convicted the Appellant under Sections 302 and 309 of the IPC and sentenced her to undergo life imprisonment. The High Court though acquitted the Appellant under Section 309 IPC, but upheld the conviction under Section 302, IPC. The Appellant having suffered imprisonment for almost 20 years applied for premature release. However, the same was rejected considering the cruel and brutal nature of the offence committed by her. Hence, the appeal.

After considering the matter in detail, the Apex Court found that the circumstances in which the Appellant is said to have administered poison to her two children are clearly reflective of her being under a state of tremendous mental stress.

However, the Apex Court highlighted that despite the best efforts of her counsel, it is difficult to grant the benefit of bringing the case under the ambit of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

In the facts and circumstance of the present case, we find the scenarios put forth by the Appellant not covered under the exceptions enumerated under Section 300 of the IPC. More so, when there was no consent from the persons who were fed and died upon consuming the pesticide administered by the Appellant”, added the Court.

However, on the issue of premature release, the Bench noted that this benefit to prisoners in case of life convicts is minimum completion of ten years of incarceration as on Feb 25, 2018, and for such purpose, there is a State Level Committee empowered to make such recommendations.

In the present case, the positive recommendation of the State Level Committee for premature release of the Appellant, has been rejected by the State on the ground that the Appellant had administered poison to murder her two sons to continue her illicit relationship without any hinderance, which act was cruel and brutal in nature”, added the Bench.

Though, the Bench clarified that this Court is not oblivious to the crime but it is equally not oblivious to the fact that the Appellant (mother) has already suffered at the cruel hands of fate.

Accordingly, the Apex Court held that the Appellant is entitled to the benefit of premature release as per Government Order issued by the Home (Prison-IV) Department.

Cause Title: Nagarathinam v. State through Inspector of Police

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