The Supreme Court while dealing with a matter relating to the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl has modified the sentence of the convict from life imprisonment to a fixed term sentence of 30 years.

The two-Judge Bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal held, “Keeping in view the totality of circumstances, the sentence of life imprisonment for the whole of the biological life of the appellant, without any benefit of remission deserves to be modified to the fixed term sentence for a period of 30 years without any benefit of remission so that prime period of his life is spent in jail.”

The Bench further held that the appellant i.e., the convict shall be released from jail only after undergoing a full sentence of 30 years, excluding the period of imprisonment already undergone.

Advocate Md. Anas Chaudhary appeared for the appellant/convict while Senior Advocate Arunabh Chowdhary appeared for the respondent/State.

In this case, the appellant was convicted under Sections 302 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code by the Trial Court and a punishment of death penalty was imposed on him. However, the Jharkhand High Court while upholding the conviction of the appellant modified his death sentence into a life sentence and directed him to remain in jail for the whole of his biological life without any benefit of remission.

The appellant was convicted of raping and assaulting the sister of the complainant with a stone in the field which led to her death. There were several injuries, her face was entirely defaced and there were no clothes on her body as her skirt, top, panty, earrings, bangles, etc. were found at a distance of about 20-20 feet.

The Supreme Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel noted, “We need not go into the facts of the controversy in detail for the reason that there is no challenge to the conviction of the appellant. The fact remains that there was rape and murder of a 14 year old girl. The guilt of the appellant was proved beyond reasonable doubt on account of testimony of direct eye-witnesses. The sentence awarded by the High Court is life imprisonment for the whole of biological life of the appellant without any remission.”

The Court said that the appellant was 26 years of age when the offence was committed and there may be chances of his reformation, but still, undue leniency in sentencing shakes public confidence in the criminal justice system, so the deterrent effect may not be there.

“Though notice was issued only to consider whether the appellant could be extended the benefit of remission, however, considering the severity of the offence committed by the appellant, we do not find any merit in that submission. … The rights of the victim and his family members are also to be considered”, observed the Court.

Accordingly, the Apex Court disposed of the appeals and modified the sentence of the convict.

Cause Title- Kashi Nath Singh @ Kallu Singh v. The State of Jharkhand

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