The Supreme Court on November 10, 2022, stayed the execution of the death sentence awarded to a man who was convicted of raping and murdering a minor girl who was only 3-year-old in 2013.

In furtherance to the direction sought, the Court directed the psychological evaluation of the accused in order to enable the Court to have the necessary background material to assess whether the imposition of a sentence of death was justified.

The Bench of CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice JB Pardiwala was hearing a criminal miscellaneous petition instituted by Project 39A of the National Law University, Delhi which provides pro bono legal representation, particularly to convicts who have been sentenced to death. The proceedings arose from the impugned judgment of the Bombay High Court which had confirmed the death sentence awarded by the Trial Court to the accused.

Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora appeared for the appellant before the Apex Court

The Court noted, "The execution of the sentence of death shall remain suspended pending the hearing and final disposal of the appeals."

The Bench further placed reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Manoj and Others vs State of Madhya Pradesh, where the Court had issued guidelines for ensuring that a psychiatric and psychological evaluation of the accused is carried out in order to enable the court to have necessary background material to assess whether the imposition of the sentence of death is justified.

The Petition was filed for the purpose of granting permission to Ms. Nuriya Ansari, who is working as a mitigating investigator at Project 39A to physically visit the Applicant in Yerwada Central Jail, Pune, and conduct multiple in-person interviews for the purpose of collecting information relevant to sentencing.

A direction was also sought to keep such interviews confidential and be conducted without any prison or police staff at earshot distance.

The Court thus directed the State to file a report before the Court of all the Probation officers relating to the appellant-accused.

It was also further directed that the Superintendent of the Yerwada Central Jail shall submit a report in regard to the nature of work that has been performed by the appellant while in jail and a report in regard to the conduct and behavior of the appellant while in jail.

A direction has also been given to the Head of Sassoon General Hospital, Pune to constitute a suitable team for the purpose of carrying out a psychological evaluation of the appellant.

Lastly, the Court has permitted Ms. Ansari to have access to the appellant who is lodged in Yerwada jail, Pune, and submit a report in regard to the psychological assessment of the appellant.

The Court has directed to list the appeals after eight weeks.

Cause Title - Ramkirat Munilal Goud v. The State of Maharashtra

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