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Ravi vs The State Of Maharashtra on 3 October, 2019

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 1488-1489 OF 2018

Ravi S/o Ashok Ghumare ….. Appellants(s)

VERSUS

The State of Maharashtra …..Respondents(s)

JUDGMENT

SURYA KANT, J.

These appeals assail the judgment dated 20 th January,

2016 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay,

Bench at Aurangabad, confirming the death reference in the

Sessions Case No. 127 of 2012 decided by the Additional

Sessions Judge, Jalna, in which the appellant having been

found guilty of committing offences punishable under Sections

302, 363, 376 and 377 of the Indian Penal Code (for short,

“the IPC”), has been awarded the sentence of death under

Signature Not Verified
Section 302, IPC along with the sentence of rigorous
Digitally signed by R

imprisonment(s) of different durations with fine for the rest of
NATARAJAN
Date: 2019.10.03
18:34:10 IST
Reason:

offences. The Trial Court as well as the High Court have

1
concurrently held that the case falls within the exceptional

category of `rarest of the rare’ cases where all other

alternative options but to award death sentence, are

foreclosed.

2. The facts leading to the aforestated conclusion are to the

following effect:-

3. The informant Iliyas Mohinuddin (P.W.9) had been a fruit-

seller based in Jalna. On 06.03.2012 at about 5.00 p.m. while

he was as usual busy in selling fruits, his wife informed him

that their daughter (in short, `the victim child’) who was 2

years old, was missing. He along with his relatives started

looking for the child. During their search, the informant came

to know from Azbar (P.W.2) that the appellant had been

spotted drunk and was distributing chocolates to small

children in the lane near the Maroti Temple. The appellant was

also a resident of the same lane. The informant went to the

appellant’s house which was found locked. As the

whereabouts of the missing child were still not known, the

informant lodged a formal missing report to the police. He

also passed on the information to the police as received from

Azbar (P.W.2) regarding the distribution of chocolates amongst

small children by the appellant. The police, therefore, came to

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the appellant’s house which had two doors. One was found

locked from outside while the other was locked from inside.

Police broke open the door and entered the house along with

the informant, his brother and a few other persons. They

found the appellant in the house; deceased-victim was lying

under the bed in a naked and unconscious condition. Blood

was oozing out from her private parts and had multiple injuries

on her body. She was covered in a blanket and taken to the

hospital where the doctor declared her brought dead. Inquest

panchnama was prepared and the body was sent for post

mortem. A panel of doctors, including Dr. B.L. Survase and Dr.

Bedarkar (P.W. 7 and P.W.8 respectively) performed the post

mortem and found multiple injuries on the person of the

victim. They opined that the death was caused due to

throttling. The informant – father of the victim lodged the

report at 12.30 a.m. on 07.03.2012 on the basis of which

Crime No. 56 of 2012 was registered. The appellant was

arrested at about 1.00 a.m. on the same day by the

Investigating Officer Rajinder Singh Gaur (P.W.12). The clothes

worn by the appellant were seized and the seizure panchnama

was drawn in the presence of panchnama witnesses – Sheikh

Arshad and Sheikh Nayeem.

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4. Iliyas (P.W.9), the father of the deceased-victim also

produced the clothes worn by her which too were duly seized

in the presence of Syed Muzeeb (P.W.1) and Mohd. Akbar

Khan. The scene of crime panchnama was drawn and articles

found on the spot were also seized. The appellant was

referred for medical examination to Ghati Hospital,

Aurangabad. The appellant’s blood samples were taken on

11.3.2012 and sent to Mumbai for DNA examination along with

the seized muddemal. The blood samples of the appellant

were taken again on 13.03.2012 and were sent for the DNA

test.

5. On filing of the chargesheet, charges under Sections 363,

376 and 302, IPC were framed to which the appellant did not

plead guilty and claimed trial. Thereafter, prosecution moved

an application for framing an additional charge under Section

377, IPC. The said application was allowed and charge under

Section 377 was framed to which also the appellant did not

plead guilty. His defence was of total denial and that he was

falsely implicated.

6. The prosecution examined 12 witnesses in all. The

following points thus arose for consideration of the Trial Court:-

“1. Whether the prosecution proves that accused on

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6.3.2012 at about 16.00 Hrs. in the vicinity of Indira
Nagar, old Jalna, Taluka and District : Jalna,
kidnapped xxx.. d/o Iliyas Pathan a minor girl under
16 years of age from her lawful guardianship
without his consent, and thereby committed an
offence punishable u/s 363 of I.P.C.?

2. Whether the prosecution further proves that
accused on above date, time and place of offence,
committed rape on xxx.. and thereby committed an
offence punishable u/s 376 of IPC?

3. Whether the prosecution further proves that
accused on above date, time and place of offence,
committed carnal intercourse against the order of
nature with minor girl xxx.. and thereby committed
an offence punishable u/s 377 of IPC?

4. Whether the prosecution further proves that
accused on above date, time and place of offence,
committed murder intentionally or knowingly
causing death of xxx.., and thereby committed an
offence punishable u/s 302 of IPC?”

7. The Trial Court discussed the evidence at length in the

context of each point and answered them in the affirmative. It

held the appellant guilty of the offences referred to above.

The Trial Court thereafter compared the `aggravating

circumstances’ vis-a-vis the `mitigating circumstances’ and

having found that the crime was committed in a most brutal,

diabolical and revolting manner which shook the collective

conscience of the society, it found that the R.R. Test (rarest of

the rare cases) is fully attracted, hence capital punishment

was imposed on the appellant under Section 302, IPC.

5

8. The High Court considered the death reference as well as

the appeal preferred by the appellant against the trial Court

judgment and after scrutinising the prosecution evidence,

reached the following factual issues:-

“A. Accused was found with victim girl in a house one
door of which was locked from outside and another
door closed from inside,

B. Multiple injuries found on the person of victim,

C. Medical evidence showing that the girl was
forcibly raped and done to death,

D. Recovery of blood stained jeans pant and full bush
shirt (torn) from the accused,

E. Motive,

F. Failure of accused to offer plausible explanation to
the incriminating circumstances against him.”

9. The High Court held that the circumstances conclusively

prove that all the pieces of the puzzle fit so perfectly that they

leave no reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with

the hypothesis of the innocence of the appellant, rather the

same leads to the irrefutable conclusion that it is the appellant

who took away the victim child to his house, sexually

assaulted her, committed unnatural intercourse and throttled

her to death. Consequently, the conviction of the appellant

under Sections 302, 376, 377 and 363 of the IPC. was upheld.

6

10. The High Court thereafter engaged itself on the question

of quantum of sentence and as to whether the R.R. Test was

attracted to the facts and circumstances of this case. The

High Court drew up the balance sheet of the `aggravating’ and

`mitigating’ circumstances and after their comparative

analysis, it concurred with the extreme penalty awarded by

the trial Court and confirmed the death sentence.

11. We have heard Ms. Nitya Ramkrishnan, Learned Counsel

for the appellant and Mr. Nishant R. Katneshwarkar, Learned

Counsel for the State of Maharashtra on merits as well as on

the contentious issue re: quantum of sentence and have

minutely perused the relevant record.

12. Learned Counsel for the appellant argued that there are

chinks in the culpability calculus that have a direct bearing on

the quantum of sentence as well. She urged that according to

Azbar (P.W.2), the appellant was distributing chocolates to

children near Maroti Temple around 3.30 to 4.00 p.m. and that

the mother of the victim called her husband Iliyas (P.W.9)

around 5.00 p.m. to inform that the deceased-victim had been

missing since 4.00 p.m. There is no evidence that she was

one amongst the children to whom the appellant was

distributing chocolates; where had the victim been until 4.00

7
p.m. and where and when was she last seen and in whose

company? The argument is that the victim was not lastly seen

in the company of the appellant. It was then urged that the

appellant’s house is four houses away from that of the victim;

there are other houses next and opposite to that of the

appellant, therefore, it is unbelievable that nobody saw the

victim child being taken away by the appellant. She pointed

out that five policemen entered the house of the appellant and

the informant (P.W.9) also statedly accompanied them but the

police officials in their depositions have not made any such

reference.

13. According to Learned Counsel for the appellant, Azbar

(P.W.2) also went to the house of the appellant only after

learning that the victim had been traced in the house of the

appellant, yet he claims to have seen the appellant under the

cot while the victim was on the cot inside the house. It was

unbelievable that even after the police had entered the 10×10

room and had hunted him out, the appellant would still remain

under the cot until P.W.2 reached the spot. Similarly, Aslam

(P.W.5) who is the maternal uncle of the victim, also went to

the appellant’s house only after the victim had been found

there. Yet, he too found the appellant under the cot.

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According to the Learned Counsel, all these witnesses, namely,

P.W.2, P.W.3, P.W.4, P.W.5 and P.W.9 have been set out after

learning that the child had been found purportedly to describe

a scene immediately upon entering the house, which naturally

cannot be the case. It was strongly urged that most of these

persons did not witness the crime or scene of the crime as

they have deposed that the child and the appellant were found

in a state of undress, only Dilip Pralhadrao Tejan (P.W.3), who is

a police official, says that the appellant was found outraging

the modesty of the child. It thus suggests that the testimony

of all these witnesses is not accurate and at best it leads to an

inference that the child was found in the same house as was

the appellant. It was pointed out that the testimony of P.W.3,

P.W.4 and P.W.9 varies at the point as to what they saw on

entering the house. However, P.W.3’s statement claiming that

the appellant was found outraging the modesty of the child

under the bed, is different from the version of others who

found a cloth around the bed and could see the appellant and

the victim only when the cloth was removed. P.W.9 (father of

the victim child) does not state the same facts as have been

described by P.W.3 or P.W.4 and thus there is inconsistent

version on what was seen inside the appellant’s house upon

9
entering.

14. It was then urged that the houses in the area were in a

close cluster and it would have been difficult for the appellant

to take the child away without being noticed by anyone.

Further, prosecution has failed to establish two crucial facts,

namely, the place where the victim child was last seen and the

estimated time of her death. In the absence of surety of these

two facts as to when was the victim child last seen alive and

her approximate time of death, the recovery of her dead body

between 9.30-10.00 p.m. in the house of the appellant per se

is insufficient to establish the charge beyond reasonable

doubt.

15. It was contended that even as per P.W.9 (the informant)

the appellant along with his family had been residing in that

very house since the past 7-10 years, but the prosecution has

failed to explain as to where had the other members of the

family been during those six hours, between 4.00 p.m. to

10.00 p.m. on that fateful day. This assumes significance in

view of the DNA report which merely indicates that they are

from the same paternal progeny.

16. Learned Counsel lastly urged that since the basis for the

match in DNA report is the comparison with the blood sample

10
of the appellant, it was imperative upon the prosecution to

establish that the sample indeed was that of the appellant

only. The person, who drew the blood sample has not been

examined as a witness nor the contemporary record of the

procedure for taking blood sample has been explained. There

is only a bald statement of the Investigating Officer that the

appellant was referred to Ghati hospital, Aurangabad. There is

no memo or material to show as to who collected the blood

sample of the appellant, when was the sample collected and

where and how was it preserved. As against it, the medical

examination reports and sample collection reports of the

appellant (Exbts. 21, 21A and 22) indicate that no blood

sample was taken which shows the incorrectness of the

Investigating Officer’s testimony. The chemical lab at Mumbai

also does not mention any receipt of a blood sample of the

appellant. She argued that the prosecution has strongly relied

on the D.N.A. evidence despite the fact that the method of

analysis used, i.e., Y-Chromosome Short Tandem Repeat

Polymorphism (Y-STR) has certain inherent limitations due to

which accurate identification of the accused cannot be

established beyond a reasonable doubt. Unlike other

processes like autosomal STR analysis, Y-STR analysis does not

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allow for individual identification in the same male lineage. It

was thus contended that the prosecution has failed to bring

the guilty at home, hence the appellant deserves the benefit

of doubt.

17. Learned State Counsel, however, refuted all the

appellant’s contentions and took us through the ocular and

medical evidence, especially the eye-witness’s account to urge

that there is no error or lapse worth whispering committed by

the prosecution in establishing the appellant’s guilt. He

extensively referred to the relevant parts of the impugned

judgments to explain as to how the `aggravating’ and

`mitigating’ circumstances have been drawn up and weighed

before awarding or confirming the death sentence.

18. Before entering the hassled arena of sentencing, it is

apropos to recapitulate the facts and evidence on record to

find out whether the prosecution has been able to prove the

charges against the appellant beyond any reasonable doubt.

19. The victim was not even 2-year old when she died an

unnatural death. The post mortem was conducted on

07.03.2012 by a panel of doctors, which included Dr. B.L.

Survesh (P.W.7) and Dr. Bedarkar (P.W.8). According to Dr. B.L.

Survesh, the external injuries corresponded to the internal

12
injuries and were sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to

cause death. All the injuries were ante-mortem and the cause

of death was throttling. The Medical Board found following

injuries on external examination on the body of the deceased-

victim:-

1. Linear abrasion on right side of chest 2 cm, oblique,
reddish in colour.

2. Abrasion over left zygomatic area, 5 x 2 cm.

3. Linear abrasion, left side of neck, above clavicle
reddish, about 1 cm in length and 2 in number.

4. Linear abrasion, left scapular region, two in number,
one below other 2½ cm. reddish in colour.

5. Abrasion, 5 in number, at the centre over lower
back, ½ x 1 cm each in size.

6. Contrusion over vault ½ x ½ cm.

7. Abrasion over right sub mandibular region, 1 cm
reddish.

8. Abrasion, right supra clavicular region, 2 in number,
½ cm each, over above other.

20. The panel of doctors further found following injuries on

the internal examination of the body:-

1. Neck dissection under the skin, contusion to muscle
and subcutaneous tissues corresponding to abrasions
on skin.

2. Right and left lungs congested.

3. Heart was found congested.

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4. Right side of the heart was full of blood and left side
was empty.

5. Tongue was inside the mouth between the teeth.

6. Stomach was congested and was containing semi-
digested food.

21. On the vaginal examination of the victim, evidence of

tear at posterior vaginal wall and triangular shape tear 2x1x½

cm. was noticed and hymen was found ruptured. Dr.Survase

(P.W.7) has deposed that “on perusal of report as to

examination of anal swab in DNA report, and, considering

observation in clause 15 of the post mortem report, I opine

that there was unnatural sex.” Similarly, Dr.Bedarkar (P.W.8)

after perusing the same DNA report and post mortem report

has stated that, “ I opine that vaginal and anal intercourse was

performed.”

22. It, therefore, stands established beyond any pale of doubt

that the victim child was subjected to forcible vaginal and

anal/unnatural intercourse and she died of asphyxia due to

throttling.

Connection between the appellant and the crime

23. Azbar (P.W.2) had known the appellant since their

childhood as both of them had been residing in the same lane.

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On 06.03.2012, while going towards his house at about 3.30 to

4.00 p.m. he met the appellant who was drunk and was

distributing chocolates to children near Maroti Temple. His

friend Gayas called him [Azbar (P.W.2)] at 5.00 p.m. to inform

that the victim, daughter of Iliyas, was missing. They started

looking for the child near Bhagya Nagar Railway Station,

Mhada Colony, Aurangabad Chouphuly, Sanjay Nagar, etc.

Then he got to know that the victim had been traced in the

house of the appellant. P.W.2 then went to the appellant’s

house at Indira Nagar. There was a crowd of people there and

police was already present when he entered the house and

saw that the child was lying on a cot and a blanket was put on

her body. The appellant was under the said bed. The witness

also slapped the appellant 2-3 times before the police took the

later. P.W.2 was called on the next day on 07.03.2012 for spot

panchnama. One white paper, a pencil, blue broken bangle,

one pass book carrying names of Reena and Lakshmi Bai

Ghumare and one piece of a saree was found and seized by

the police and kept in an envelope. The panchnama bears his

signatures. In his cross-examination, P.W.2 has categorically

stated that though the parents of the appellant are alive but

they were not present at his house at the time of occurrence.

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He has explained in detail as to how the panchnama was

prepared.

24. Dilip Pralhadrao Tejan (P.W.3) the police official, had been

attached to Kadim Jalna police station on 06.03.2012. The

missing report lodged by Ilias (P.W.9) about his 2-year old

daughter was handed over to P.W.3 for inquiry. P.W. 3 along

with policemen Katake, Jawale, Rathod and Chavan was in

Indira Nagar area of Jalna where he got to know that the

appellant was seen distributing chocolates and icecream/fruits

to minor children. P.W.3 along with other police officials,

therefore, went to the house of the appellant between 9.30 to

9.45 p.m. and found that there were two doors, one was

locked from outside and the other from inside. P.W.3 peeped

through the gap in the door and noticed some cloth around

the bed. He called the appellant by name but nobody

responded. The witness then broke open the door and entered

the house and found the appellant outraging the modesty of

the victim child under the bed. The police-party covered the

baby with a quilt and placed her on the bed. Meanwhile about

20 persons followed them including Aslam, the maternal uncle

of the missing child. The victim child was sent along with

Aslam for medical treatment. Since several more agitated

16
persons gathered at the scene, the police rescued the

appellant and took him to the police station. The peole were

demanding that the appellant be handed over to them. On a

specific court question as to in which manner and in what

circumstances P.W.3 saw the accused and the deceased, he

had answered in no uncertain terms that the “deceased kid

was found naked and blood was oozing from her mouth and

private parts. There was no shirt on the person of the

accused, his jean and trouser was found on his knee. Accused

was also found naked.”

25. Constable Sanjay Katake (P.W.4) was also a member of

the police team led by API Dilip Pralhadrai Tejan which was

looking for the missing child in Indira Nagar area of Jalna.

P.W.4 has also unequivocally deposed that they were informed

by the people in the vicinity that the appellant `used’ to

distribute icecream and chocolates among the children and on

that day also he was seen doing so. The police team,

therefore, went to the house of the appellant which had two

doors. One of the door was locked from outside whereas the

other was from inside. The police party called the appellant

by name, but he did not respond. Then, they peeped through

the slit of the door and noticed a bed and some piece of cloth

17
around it and got suspicious that there was somebody under

the bed. They broke open the door and entered the house.

A.S.I. Tejankar removed the cloth around the bed and the

police team found the appellant and the victim child under the

bed in naked condition. Tejankar placed the child over the

bed. “Blood was found oozing from mouth and private part of

that kid”. The victim was wrapped in a blanket and rushed to

the hospital through her maternal uncle. 4-5 persons who had

entered the house along with the police team insisted on

having the custody of the appellant. Meanwhile, 150-200

more persons gathered at the spot. The appellant was

rescued from the mob and taken to the police station. The

mob became aggressive and started pelting stones on the

police vehicles and the policemen. Some loss was also caused

to the house of the appellant. P.W.4 is the same police official

who lodged the report at Kadim Jalna Police Station (Exbt. 45).

In his cross-examination, it was suggested to P.W.4 that there

is a population of about 5000 in the vicinity and that he never

accompanied Mr. Tejankar, ASI and he knew nothing about the

incident.

26. Aslam (P.W.5) has deposed that deceased was daughter

of his sister. The husband of his sister, Iliyas informed him on

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06.03.2012 on telephone that deceased was missing and he

asked him to bring a photograph of the victim to the police

station. Aslam brought one photograph of the child to Kadim

Jalna police station and lodged the missing report. The

witness thereafter went to look for the missing child in Ambad

Chouphuly Railway Station and Moti Bagh area. While he was

still looking for her, one Hussain Pathan informed him on

phone that the child had been found so he immediately went

to the Indira Nagar area, Jalna to the house of the appellant.

He noticed that the appellant was under the bed while the

victim was lying on the bed. There were no clothes on the

person of the child; she was wrapped in a blanket. He then

took the victim to Deepak Hospital, Jalna, then to the Civil

Hospital, Jalna where the doctors declared her brought dead.

The witness has denied in the cross-examination that there

was any quarrel between Ilias (P.W.9), father of the victim and

the appellant.

27. Nand Kumar Vinayakrao Tope (P.W.6) is a police head

constable, who was on duty at Kadim Jalna police station on

12.03.2012. He has deposed that on 11.03.2012 he was

asked to carry muddemal along with a covering letter which

he deposited on 12.03.2012 in C.A. Office, Mumbai. The

19
covering letter is Exbt. P-51. He also carried the blood sample

of the appellant to C.A. Office, Mumbai and deposited the

same on 14.03.2012. He has categorically stated in his cross-

examination that the blood sample of the appellant bore

signatures of the doctors and panches.

28. We may now briefly refer to the statement of Ilias (P.W.9)

– father of the victim girl. He has deposed that the child was

about two years old; he resides in Indira Nagar, Jalna along

with his family, including his wife Aysha; the appellant was

also residing in the same lane. On the date of occurrence, i.e,

06.03.2012 he was selling fruits in Nutan Vasahat area of Jalna

when his wife informed him on phone at about 5.00 p.m. that

their daughter had been missing since 4.00 p.m. He

immediately went home where his father and brother had

already reached. They started looking for the child in the

adjoining localities. The witness informed the police about his

missing daughter who also started searching for her. Azhar

Usman meanwhile informed him that the appellant while

under the `influence of liquor’ was distributing chocolates to

children. P.W.9 then went to the house of appellant which was

found locked from outside. The missing report of the child was

lodged around 8.00-8.30 p.m. The witness also passed on the

20
information to the police that he had gathered from Azhar.

The Police party too, therefore, reached at the house of

appellant and they broke open one of the doors. The witness

and his brother entered the house along with the police and

found that his daughter was lying under the bed and the

appellant was also lying under the bed. His daughter was

naked and there were injuries on her person aw well as private

parts. Police laid the child on the bed and after covering her

with a cloth she was taken to Deepak Hospital, Jalna where

doctors informed that the victim was already dead. The

appellant killed her by pressing her throat. The witness also

identified his signatures on the report lodged by him Exbt. P-

67. The witness in his cross-examination denied any dispute

with the father of the appellant in connection with the

purchase of the premises.

29. The other witness whose statement has a direct bearing

on connecting the appellant with the crime is API

Rajendrasingh Prabhusingh Gaur (P.W.12), who was attached

to Kadim JalnaPolice Station on 06.03.2012. He arrested the

appellant at 1.00 a.m. on 07.03.2012. The appellant was

brought to the police station by ASI Tejankar. He has further

stated that “blue jeans and green shirt on the person of

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accused was seized. There were blood-stains and semen

stains on it. The seizure panchnama Exbt. P-19 bears my

signature and also of the accused.” He has further deposed

that the father of the victim produced knicker and frock worn

by the deceased victim and also the blanket in which she was

wrapped. Blue bangle, painjan were also seized under

panchnama Exbt. P-32, which bears his signatures along with

those of the panches. Muddemal articles shown at S.No. 125

in the chargesheet were the same. Muddemal article Nos. 6

and 7 in the chargesheet were the clothes of the appellant.

The police officer (P.W.12) went to the spot and also collected

a paper having blood-stains, piece of blue bangle, a passbook

of post office and yellow piece of a saree having blood-stains.

All these articles were seized under his signatures and of the

panches. P.W.12 has further stated that the appellant was

referred to Ghati Hospital, Aurangabad for his medical

examination and report Nos. 21 and 21A were obtained.

Appellant’s blood sample was taken on 11.03.2012 from S.D.H.

Ambad and all the blood samples were sent to Mumbai for

DNA examination along with a forwarding letter Exbt. P-51.

Since the said blood sample was not sent as per the

prescribed format, another blood sample of the appellant was

22
taken by the Medical Officer at S.D.H. Ambad on 13.03.2012

and it was sent along with the covering letter Exbt. P-52.

P.W.12 also sent viscera of the victim on 12.03.2012 along with

letters which bear his signatures. The report of the viscera

Exbt. P-81 was also obtained. P.W.12 had further identified the

reports regarding clothes on the person of the victim and the

appellant Exbt. P-82. P.W.12 has been subjected to a fairly

long cross-examination but no discrepancy, having bearing on

the merits of the case, has been extracted.

30. After a tenacious analysis of the testimonies of the

witnesses with respect to the facts seen by each one of them,

there remains no room to doubt that on 06.03.2012 the

appellant after taking liquor was seen distributing chocolates

to children sometime around 3.30/4.00 p.m. The victim child

went missing around 4.00 p.m. as was informed to Ilias (P.W.9)

by his wife at about 5.00 p.m. The information of her missing

was immediately circulated amongst the family

members/relatives and all of them desparately started

searching for her. Meanwhile, the missing report was lodged

with police as well. During such search operations by the

police and also the family members of the missing child, it

surfaced that the appellant was distributing chocolates to

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allure children near Maroti Temple on that day and around that

time the child went missing. The police-team, Iliyas – the

father of the victim and his brother, genuinely apprehensive

and smelling something foul, reached the house of the

appellant and nabbed him red-handed under the bed with the

victim in naked condition. It further stands established

conclusively that deceased had been brutally assaulted and

subjected to vaginal and unnatural intercourse. The victim

had been inflicted multiple injuries on face, head, neck,

external genetalia as well as inside the uterus and urethra.

We may in this regard refer to, in particular, the deposition of

Dilip Pralhadrai Tejan (P.W.3), who after making forceful entry

inside the appellant’s house, found him outraging the modesty

of the child. The appellant had the special knowlege as to in

what circumstances the victim child suffered those multiple

injuries. The burden to prove that those injuries were not

caused by him was on the appellant alone in view of Section

106 of the Evidence Act, which he has miserably failed to

discharge though the evidence on record proves beyond doubt

that the victim child was in unlawful custody of the appellant

from about 4.00 p.m. till she breathed her last breath due to

the beastly attack on her.

24
Scientific Evidence connecting the appellant with the
Crime:

31. Dr. Bhanu Das Survase (P.W.7) was a member of the

panel of doctors, who conducted post mortem on the dead

body of the victim. He has testified that samples of swabs,

blood sample and nails sample of the victim were taken by

them. So is the statement of Dr. Bedarkar (P.W.8) who has

stated that “various types of swabs, nasal swabs, superficial

vaginal swab, deep vaginal smear on slide, superficial vaginal

smear on slide, anus swab, skin scraping of blood on thigh and

abdomen, nails and blood samples of xxx.. were taken.” He

has further deposed that all samples were seized and handed

over to the police. Police Inspector Rajendrasingh Prabhusingh

Guar (P.W.12) has stated on oath that after arresting the

appellant, the blue jeans and green shirt on his person were

seized and that there were blood-stains and semen stains on

it. The knicker and frock of the victim along with blanket in

which she was wrapped as well as various articles collected

from the scene of crime including a piece of saree having

blood-stains, were seized. The blood sample of the appellant

was also taken and all the seized articles/samples were sent to

Mumbai for examination.

25

32. Shrikant Hanamant Lade (P.W.11) Assistant Director in

Forensic Science Laboratory, Mumbai, who got training in

CDFD Institute, Hyderabad also, has authored about 30 papers

on DNA, besides a well known book `Forensic Biology’. He has

testified that they conducted the DNA test as per the

guidelines issued by the Director of Forensic Science, Ministry

of Home Affairs, New Delhi. Their office received the sealed

muddemal from Kadim, Jalna Police Station sent vide letter

dated 11.03.2012 as also the blood sample of the appellant

sent vide letter dated 13.03.2012 (Exbt. P-52). The blood

sample of the victim was received on 12.03.2012 along with

samples of oral swabs and other articles. P.W.11 analysed the

oral swabs and other articles of the victim, nasal swabs,

superficial vaginal swab, deep vaginal smear on slide,

superficial vaginal smear on slide, anus swab, skin scraping of

blood on thigh and abdomen, nails as also other blood

samples. P.W.11 has further deposed that,

“I have extracted DNA from blood sample of Accused
Ravi Ghumare, Superficial vaginal swab on Exhibit
No.3, deep vaginal swab Exhibit No.4, Deep vaginal
swab on slide Exhibit No.5 superficial vaginal swab on
slide Exhibit No.6, anal swab Exhibit No.7, skin
scrapping of blood on thigh and abdomen Exhibit
No.8, blood semen detected on Exhibit No.3 Jeans
pant. This DNA was amplified by using Y-chromosome
specific marker, Y-chromosome short tandem repeat

26
polymorphism [YSTR] and by using Polymerase
Change Reaction [for short PCR] amplification
technique. DNA profile was generated. I analyzed all
these DNA profiles. My interpretation is male
haplotypes of semen detected on Exhibit No.3
Superficial vaginal swab Exhibit No.4 deep vaginal
sway Exhibit No.3 Superfinal vaginal swab Exhibit
No.4 deep vaginal sway Exhibit No.5 deep vaginal
smear on slide, Exhibit No.6 superficial vaginal smear
on slide, Exhibit No.7 anal swab, Exhibit No.8 skin
scrapings of blood on thigh and abdomen and blood
and semen detected on Exhibit No.3, jeans pant of F.S
X. ML Case No.DNA 951/12 matched with the male
haplotypes of blood sample of Exhibit No.1, Ravi
Ashok Ghumare of F.S.L. ML Case No.DNA-209/12.

My opinion is DNA profile of semen detected on
Exhibit No.3 superficial vaginal swab, Exhibit 4 deep
vaginal swab, Exhibit No.5 deep vaginal smear on slid
Exhibit No.6 superficial vaginal smear on slide, Exhibit
No.7 anal swab, Exhibit No.8, skin scrapings of blood
on thigh and abdomen, blood and semen detected on
Exhibit No.3 jeans pant of F.S.L ML Case No.DNA-
951/112 and blood sample of Exhibit No.1 Ravi Ashok
Ghumare of F.S.LML Case No.DNA-209/12 is from the
same paternal progeny.

Accordingly, I prepared examination report filed with
list Exhibit No.71 bear my signature, Contents are
correct. It is at Exhibit No.75. Analysis of all above
DNA profiles is shorn in table in the same report. Blue
jeans pant and shirt of Accused Exhibit No.3 4 were
referred by biological section of our office. I extracted
DNA from blood and semen detected Exhibit No.3, full
jeans pant, blood detected on Exhibit No.4 full bush
shirt, and sample of Ravi Ghumare. Then this DNA
was amplified by using 15 STR Loci using PCR
amplification technique. My interpretation is DNA
profile of blood and semen detected on Exhibit No.3
full jeans pant, blood detected on Exhibit No.4 full
bush shirt [torn] of F.S.l. ML. Case No.DNA-951/12 and
blood sample of Ravi Ashok Ghumare is identical and
from one and same source of male origin. DNA

27
profiles match with the maternal and paternal alleles
in the source of blood.”

33. Shrikant Lade (P.W.11) accordingly prepared the DNA

report which is duly attested by the Assistant Chemical

Analyser also. On seeing the contents of his report, P.W.11 has

pertinently deposed that “I can opine on going through the

reports Exbts. 75-76 that there were sexual intercourse and

unnatural intercourse on the victim by the accused Ravi.”

[emphasis applied].

34. The unshakable scientific evidence which nails the

appellant from all sides, is sought to be impeached on the

premise that the method of DNA analysis “Y-STR” followed in

the instant case is unreliable. It is suggested that the said

method does not accurately identify the accused as the

perpetrator; and unlike other methods say autosomal-STR

analysis, it cannot distinguish between male members in the

same lineage.

35. We are, however, not swayed by the submission. The

globally acknowledged medical literature coupled with the

statement of P.W.11 – Assistant Director, Forensic Science

Laboratory leaves nothing mootable that in cases of sexual

assualt, DNA of the victim and the perpetrator are often

28
mixed. Traditional DNA analysis techniques like “autosomal-

STR” are not possible in such cases. Y-STR method provides a

unique way of isolating only the male DNA by comparing the Y-

Chromosome which is found only in males. It is no longer a

matter of scientific debate that Y-STR screening is manifestly

useful for corroboration in sexual assault cases and it can be

well used as excalpatory evidence and is extensively relied

upon in various jurisdictions throughout the world. 12. Science

and Researches have emphatically established that chances

of degradation of the `Loci’ in samples are lesser by this

method and it can be more effective than other traditional

methods of DNA analysis. Although Y-STR does not distinguish

between the males of same lineage, it can, nevertheless, may

be used as a strong circumstantial evidence to support the

prosecution case. Y-STR techniques of DNA analysis are both

regularly used in various jurisdictions for identification of

offender in cases of sexual assault and also as a method to

identify suspects in unsolved cases. Considering the perfect

match of the samples and there being nothing to discredit the

1“Y-STR analysis for detection and objective confirmation of child sexual abuse”, authored
by Frederick C. Delfin – Bernadette J. Madrid – Merle P. Tan – Maria Corazon A. De
Ungria.

2“Forensic DNA Evidence: Science and the Law”, authored by Justice Ming W. Chin,
Michael Chamberlain, A,y Roja, Lance Gima

29
DNA analysis process, the probative value of the forensic

report as well as the statement of P.W.11 are very high. Still

further, it is not the case of the appellant that crime was

committed by some other close relative of him. Importantly,

no other person was found present in the house except the

appellant.

36. There is thus overwhelming eye-witness account,

circumstantial evidence, medical evidence and DNA analysis

on record which conclusively proves that it is the appellant

and he alone, who is guilty of committing the horrendous

crime in this case. We, therefore, unhesitatingly uphold the

conviction of the appellant.

Motive

37. Though the High Court has observed that `satisfaction of

lust’ and `removal of trace’ was the appellant’s motive but

motive is not an explicit requirement under the Indian Penal

Code, though `motive’ may be helpful in proving the case of

the prosecution in a case of circumstantial evidence. This

Court has held in a catena of decisions that lack of motive

would not be fatal to the case of prosecution as sometimes

human beings act irrationally and at the spur of the moment.

The case in hand is not entirely based on circumstantial

30
evidence as there are reliable eye-witness depositions who

have seen the appellant committing the crime, may be in part.

Such an unshakable evidence with dense support of DNA test

does not require the definite determination of the motive of

the appellant behind the gruesome crime.

Sentencing:

38. On the question of sentence, Learned Counsel for the

appellant vehemently urged that the Courts below have been

largely influenced by the `nature’ and `brutality’ of the crime

while awarding the extreme sentence of death penalty. She

referred to a list of as many as 35 decisions rendered by this

Court in the cases of rape and murder of a child-victim in

which the death sentences were commuted to life

imprisonment. It was urged that brutality of the crime alone is

not sufficient to impose the sentence of death; it is imperative

on the State to establish that the convict is beyond reform and

to this end it is relevant to see whether this is the first

conviction or there has been previous crimes. The socio-

economic conditions of the convict and the state of mind must

be assessed by the Court before awarding such a penalty; the

death penalty must not be awarded in a case of circumstantial

evidence as any chink in the culpability calculus would

31
interdict the extreme penalty. Learned Counsel heavily relied

upon (i) Kalu Khan v. State of Rajasthan (2015) 16 SCC

492 in which a three-Judge Bench of this Court commuted the

death sentence in murder, abduction and rape, holding that

the life imprisonment would serve the object of reformation,

retribution and prevention and that giving and taking life is

divine, which cannot be done by Courts unless alternatives are

foreclosed. Another three-Judge Bench decision in Sunil v.

State of Madhya Pradesh (2017) 4 SCC 393 where a 25-

year old was held guilty of murder and rape of a 4-year old

child, but not sent to gallows on the parameters that he could

be reformed and rehabilitated, has been pressed into aid.

She, in specific, cited several three-Judge Bench judgments

where the young age of the accused was taken as a mitigating

circumstance and in the absence of previous criminal history,

the conduct of the accused while in custody and keeping in

view the socio-economic strata to which he belonged, the

possibility of reform was not ruled out and death penalty was

commuted.

39. Learned Counsel for the appellant placed great reliance

on a three-Judge Bench decision of this Court dated December

12, 2018 rendered in Rajindra Pralhadrao Wasnik v. State

32
of Maharashtra in Review Petition(Crl.) Nos. 306-307/2013 in

which the appellant was held guilty of rape and murder of a 3-

year old child and the death sentence was substituted by the

life imprisonment with a rider, “that the convict shall not be

released for the rest of his life”. This Court viewed in that case

that (a) the case was solely based on circumstantial evidence,

(b) probability of reformation and rehabilitation could not be

ruled out, (c) DNA sample of the accused was taken, but not

submitted in the Trial Court, and (d) the factum of pendency of

two similar cases against the accused reflecting on his bad

character was not admissible. Yet another three-Judge Bench

decision of this Court in Parsuram v. State of Madhya

Pradesh (Criminal Appeal Nos. 314-315 of 2013), decided on

19th February, 2019 where also death sentence awarded to a

22-year old who was found guilty of rape and murder of a

minor girl, was commuted on the principles quoted above, has

been relied upon.

40. The appellant’s Counsel urged that the High Court ought

not to have followed (i) Dhanjoy Chaterjee v. State of

West Bengal (1994) 2 SCC 220, which was later on doubted

by this Court in Shankar Kishanrao Khade v. State of

Maharashtra (2013) 5 SCC 546 and (ii) Shivaji v. State of

33
Maharashtra (2008) 3 SCC 269 which too was held to be per

curian in Santosh Kumar Satishbhushan Bariyar v. State

of Maharashtra (2009) 6 SCC 498. She very passionately

urged that neither the High Court nor the Trial Court have

given reasons for imposition of death penalty as both the

Courts have been influenced by the nature of the crime. The

mitigating circumstances of the appellant were inadequately

represented. The brutality of the crime is the pre-dominant

ground for imposition of death penalty though this Court has

cautioned contrarily in a catena of decisions. Both the Courts

have failed in recording a finding that the appellant was

beyond reform and unless it was so found, the case cannot

belong to the `rarest of the rare’ category.

41. Relying upon the facts like (i) lack of criminal

antecedents; (ii) no record of anti-social conduct prior to the

crime; (iii) appellant being 25-30 years of age; (iv) brutality of

crime cannot be a ground to award death sentence; and (v)

the appellant belongs to poor section of society, his learned

Counsel urged that this is not a fit case for imposition of death

penalty.

42. Learned State Counsel, contrarily, maintained that the

instant case satisfies the principle of `rarest of the rare cases’

34
and the appellant who committed the crime of rape and

murder of a barely 2-year old innocent toddler in the most

dastardly manner, does not deserve any liniency. According to

him, the appellant is a menace to the society and to deter

such like crimes against mankind, this Court should show no

misplaced sympathy.

43. The question which eventually falls for consideration is

whether the instant case satisfies the test of `rarest of the

rare cases’ and falls in such exceptional category where all

other alternatives except death sentence, are foreclosed and

whether this Court should explore the award of actual life

imprisonment as prescribed by this Court in Swamy

Shraddananda @ Murli Manohar Mishra v. State of

Karnataka (2008) 13 SCC 767 which has got seal of approval

of the Constitution Bench in Union of India v. V. Sriharan @

Murugan Ors. (2016) 7 SCC 1.

44. The Constitution Bench of this Court in Bachan Singh v.

State of Punjab (1980) 2 SCC 684, while upholding the

constitutionality of death penalty under Section 302 IPC and

the sentencing procedure embodied in Section 354(3) of the

Code of Criminal Procedure, struck a balance between the

protagonists of the deterrent punishment on one hand and the

35
humanity crying against death penalty on the other and

elucidated the strict parameters to be adhered to by the

Courts for awarding death sentence. While emphasising that

for persons convicted of murder, life imprisonment is the `rule’

and death setnence an `exception’, this Court viewed that a

rule abiding concern for the dignity of the human life

postulates resistance in taking the life through laws

instrumentality and that the death sentence be not awarded

“save in the rarest of the rare cases” when the alternative

option is foreclosed.

45. In Machhi Singh v. State of Punjab (1983) 3 SCC 470,

this Court formulated the following two questions to be

considered as a test to determine the rarest of the rare cases

in which the death sentence can be inflicted:

“(a) Is there something uncommon, which renders
sentence for imprisonment for life inadequate calls
for death sentence?

(b) Rather the circumstances of the crime such that
there is no alternative, but to impose the death
sentence even after according maximum weightage
to the mitigating circumstances which speaks in
favour of the offender?”

46. Machhi Singh then proceeded to lay down the

circumstances in which death sentence may be imposed for

the crime of murder and held as follows:-

36
“32. The reasons why the community as a whole
does not endorse the humanistic approach reflected
in “death sentence-in-no-case” doctrine are not far
to seek. In the first place, the very humanistic
edifice is constructed on the foundation of
“reverence for life” principle. When a member of the
community violates this very principle by killing
another member, the society may not feel itself
bound by the shackles of this doctrine. Secondly, it
has to be realized that every member of the
community is able to live with safety without his or
her own life being endangered because of the
protective arm of the community and on account of
the rule of law enforced by it. The very existence of
the rule of law and the fear of being brought to book
operates as a deterrent for those who have no
scruples in killing others if it suits their ends. Every
member of the community owes a debt to the
community for this protection. When ingratitude is
shown instead of gratitude by “killing” a member of
the community which protects the murderer himself
from being killed, or when the community feels that
for the sake of self- preservation the killer has to be
killed, the community may well withdraw the
protection by sanctioning the death penalty. But the
community will not do so in every case. It may do so
“in rarest of rare cases” when its collective
conscience is so shocked that it will expect the
holders of the judicial power centre to inflict death
penalty irrespective of their personal opinion as
regards desirability or otherwise of retaining death
penalty. The community may entertain such a
sentiment when the crime is viewed from the
platform of the motive for, or the manner of
commission of the crime, or the anti-social or
abhorrent nature of the crime, such as for instance:
I. Manner of commission of murder

33. When the murder is committed in an extremely
brutal, grotesque, diabolical, revolting or dastardly
manner so as to arouse intense and extreme
indignation of the community. For instance,

(i) when the house of the victim is set aflame with

37
the end in view to roast him alive in the house.

(ii) when the victim is subjected to inhuman acts of
torture or cruelty in order to bring about his or her
death.

(iii) when the body of the victim is cut into pieces or
his body is dismembered in a fiendish manner.
II. Motive for commission of murder

34. When the murder is committed for a motive
which evinces total depravity and meanness. For
instance when (a) a hired assassin commits murder
for the sake of money or reward (b) a cold-blooded
murder is committed with a deliberate design in
order to inherit property or to gain control over
property of a ward or a person under the control of
the murderer or vis-a-vis whom the murderer is in a
dominating position or in a position of trust, or (c) a
murder is committed in the course for betrayal of
the motherland.

III. Anti-social or socially abhorrent nature of
the crime

35. (a) When murder of a member of a Scheduled
Caste or minority community etc., is committed not
for personal reasons but in circumstances which
arouse social wrath. For instance when such a crime
is committed in order to terrorize such persons and
frighten them into fleeing from a place or in order to
deprive them of, or make them surrender, lands or
benefits conferred on them with a view to reverse
past injustices and in order to restore the social
balance.

(b) In cases of “bride burning” and what are known
as “dowry deaths” or when murder is committed in
order to remarry for the sake of extracting dowry
once again or to marry another woman on account
of infatuation.

IV. Magnitude of crime

36. When the crime is enormous in proportion. For
instance when multiple murders say of all or almost
all the members of a family or a large number of
persons of a particular caste, community, or locality,

38
are committed.

V. Personality of victim of murder

37. When the victim of murder is (a) an innocent
child who could not have or has not provided even
an excuse, much less a provocation, for murder (b)
a helpless woman or a person rendered helpless by
old age or infirmity (c) when the victim is a person
vis-a-vis whom the murderer is in a position of
domination or trust (d) when the victim is a public
figure generally loved and respected by the
community for the services rendered by him and the
murder is committed for political or similar reasons
other than personal reasons…..”

47. It thus spells out from Machhi Singh (supra) that

extreme penalty of death sentence need not be inflicted

except in gravest cases of extreme culpability and where the

victim of a murder is … (a) an innocent child who could not

have or has not provided even an excuse, much less a

provocation for murder…”, such abhorent nature of the crime

will certainly fall in the exceptional category of gravest cases

of extreme culpability.

48. This Court in Machhi Singh’s case confirmed the death

sentence awarded to Kashmir Singh – one of the appellants as

he was found guilty of causing death to a poor defenceless

child (Balbir Singh) aged 6 years. The appellant Kashmir Singh

was categorised as a person of depraved mind with grave

propensity to commit murder.

39

49. Bachan Singh and Machhi Singh, the Constitution

Bench and the Three-Judge Bench decisions respectively,

continue to serve as the foundation-stone of contemporary

sentencing jurisprudence though they have been expounded

or distinguished for the purpose of commuting death

sentence, mostly in the cases of (i) conviction based on

circumstantial evidence alone; (ii) failure of the prosecution to

discharge its onus re: reformation; (iii) a case of residual

doubts; and (iv) where the other peculiar `mitigating’

circumstances outweighed the `aggravating’ circumstances.

50. It is noteworthy that the object and purpose of

determining quantum of sentence has to be `society centric’

without being influenced by a `judge’s’ own views, for society

is the biggest stake holder in the administration of criminal

justice system. A civic society has a `fundamental’ and

`human’ right to live free from any kind of psycho fear, threat,

danger or insecurity at the hands of anti-social elements. The

society legitimately expects the Courts to apply doctrine of

proportionality and impose suitable and deterent punishment

that commensurate(s) with the gravity of offence.

51. Equally important is the stand-point of a `victim’ which

40
includes his/her guardian or legal heirs as defined in Section

2(wa), Cr.P.C. For long, the criminal law had been viewed on a

dimensional plane wherein the Courts were required to

adjudicate between the accused and the State. The `victim’-

the de facto sufferer of a crime had no say in the adjudicatory

process and was made to sit outside the court as a mute

spectator. The ethos of criminal justice dispensation to

prevent and punish `crime’ would surreptitiously turn its back

on the `victim’ of such crime whose cries went unheard for

centuries in the long corridors of the conventional apparatus.

A few limited rights, including to participate in the trial have

now been bestowed on a `victim’ in India by the Act No. 5 of

2009 whereby some pragmatic changes in Cr.P.C. have been

made.

52. The Sentencing Policy, therefore, needs to strike a

balance between the two sides and count upon the twin test of

(i) deterrent effect, or (ii) complete reformation for integration

of the offender in civil society. Where the Court is satisfied

that there is no possibility of reforming the offender, the

punishments before all things, must be befitting the nature of

crime and deterrent with an explicit aim to make an example

out of the evil-doer and a warning to those who are still

41
innocent. There is no gainsaying that the punishment is a

reflection of societal morals. The subsistence of capital

punishment proves that there are certain acts which the

society so essentially abhores that they justify the taking of

most crucial of the rights – the right to life.

53. If the case-law cited on behalf of the appellant where this

Court commuted death sentence into life imprisonment for the

`rest of the life’ or so is appreciated within these contours, it

won’t need an elaborate discussion that the peculiarity of the

facts and circumstances of each case prompted this Court to

invoke leniency and substitute the death sentence with a

lesser punishment. The three-Judge Bench decision in

Rajendra Pralhadrai Washnik (supra) is clearly distinguisahable

on this very premise as that was a case, not only based on

circumstantial evidence but where even the DNA sample of

the accused though taken was not submitted in the trial Court.

It was thus a case of “residuary doubts” as explained by this

Court in Ashok Debbarma v. State of Tripura (2014) 4 SCC

747. The same analogy takes away the persuvasive force in

Parsuram (supra), for that too was a case where the guilt was

established only on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

42

54. Contrary to it, a Three-Judge Bench of this Court in

Vsanta Sampat Dupare v. State of Maharashtra (2017) 6

SCC 631, which is very close on facts to this case, found the

convict guilty of raping and battering to death a little girl of 4

years after luring her by giving chocolates. The prosecution

established its case by relying upon the `last seen theory’ as

the appellant was seen taking away the victim on a bicycle on

the fateful day. The eye-witness account, the disclosure

statement made by the accused coupled with the other

circumstantial evidence nailed him. The death setence was

confirmed by this Court on 26th November, 2014. He,

thereafter filed a Review Petition after about three years,

claiming that post-confirmation of his death sentence, he had

improved his academic qualification, completed the Gandhi

Vichar Pariksha and had also participated in the Drawing

Competition organised sometime in January, 2016. It was also

asserted that his jail record was without any blemish and

there was a possibility of the accused being reformed and

rehabilitated. This Court dismissed the Review Petition by way

of a self-speaking judgment, holding that the aggravating

circumstances, namely, the extreme depravity and the

barbaric manner in which the crime was committed and the

43
fact that the victim was a helpless child of four years clearly

outweigh the mitigating circumstances now brought on record.

55. In Khushwinder Singh v. State of Punjab, (2019) 4

SCC 415, this Court affirmed the death sentence of an accused

who had killed six innocent persons, out of which two were

minors, by kidnapping three persons, drugging them with

sleeping tablets, and then pushing them into a canal.

Thereafter, three other members of the same family were also

done away with. This Court upheld the award of capital

punishment observing as follows:-

“14. Now, so far as the capital punishment imposed
by the learned Sessions Court and confirmed by the
High Court is concerned, at the outset, it is required
to be noted that, as such, the learned counsel
appearing on behalf of the accused is not in a
position to point out any mitigating circumstance
which warrants commutation of death sentence to
the life imprisonment. In the present case, the
accused has killed six innocent persons, out of which
two were minors — below 10 years of age. Almost,
all the family members of PW 5 were done to death
in a diabolical and dastardly manner. Fortunately, or
unfortunately, only one person of the family of PW 5
could survive. In the present case, the accused has
killed six innocent persons in a pre-planned manner.
The convict meticulously planned the time. He first
kidnapped three persons by way of deception and
took them to the canal and after drugging them with
sleeping tablets, pushed them in the canal at
midnight to ensure that the crime is not detected.

That, thereafter he killed another three persons in
the second stage/instalment. Therefore, considering

44
the law laid down by this Court in Mukesh v. State
(NCT of Delhi), (2017) 6 SCC 1 : (2017) 2 SCC (Cri)
673] , the case would fall in the category of the
“rarest of rare case” warranting death
sentence/capital punishment. The aggravating
circumstances are in favour of the prosecution and
against the accused.

Therefore, striking a balance between the
aggravating and mitigating circumstances, we are of
the opinion that the aggravating circumstance would
tilt the balance in favour of capital punishment. In
the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of
the opinion that there is no alternative punishment
suitable, except the death sentence. The crime is
committed with extremist brutality and the
collective conscience of the society would be
shocked. Therefore, we are of the opinion that the
capital punishment/death sentence imposed by the
learned Sessions Court and confirmed by the High
Court does not warrant any interference by this
Court. Therefore, we confirm the death sentence of
the accused imposed by the learned Sessions Court
and confirmed by the High Court while convicting
the appellant for the offence punishable under
Section 302 IPC.”

56. In a recent Three-Judge Bench decision of this Court in

Manoharan v. State by Inspector of Police, Variety Hall

Police Station, Coimbatore, (2019) SCC Online 951, the

appellant’s capital punishment was confirmed by the High

Court in a case in which he along with his co-accused was held

guilty of kidnapping a 10-year old girl and her 7-year old

brother. After committing gang rape of the minor girl, both the

victims were done away with by throwing them into a canal

45
which caused their death by drowning. This Court (by

majority) upheld the death sentence, concluding as follows:-

“41. In the circumstances, we have no doubt that the
trial court and High Court have correctly applied and
balanced aggravating circumstances with mitigating
circumstances to find that the crime committed was
cold blooded and involves the rape of a minor girl
and murder of two children in the most heinous
fashion possible. No remorse has been shown by the
Appellant at all and given the nature of the crime as
stated in paragraph 84 of the High Court’s judgment
it is unlikely that the Appellant, if set free, would not
be capable of committing such a crime yet again.
The fact that the Appellant made a confessional
statement would not, on the facts of this case, mean
that he showed remorse for committing such a
heinous crime. He did not stand by this confessional
statement, but falsely retracted only those parts of
the statement which implicated him of both the rape
of the young girl and the murder of both her and her
little brother. Consequently, we confirm the death
sentence and dismiss the appeals.”

57. It is equally apt at this stage to refer the recent

amendments carried out by Parliament in the Protection of

Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 by way of The

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act,

2019 as notified on 6th August, 2019. The unamended Act

defines “Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault” in Section 5,

which included, “whoever commits aggravated penetrative

sexual assault on a child below the age of 12 years.”

Originally, the punishment for an aggravated sexual assault

46
was rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 10-years

but which may extend for imprisonment for life with fine.

58. The recent amendment in Section 6 of 2012 Act has

substituted the punishment as follows:-

“Post the Amendment, Section 6 has been
substituted as follows:-

“6. (1) Whoever commits aggravated penetrative
sexual assault shall be punished with rigorous
imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than
twenty years, but which may extend to imprisonment
for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the
remainder of natural life of that person, and shall
also be liable to fine, or with death.
(2) The fine imposed under sub-section (1) shall be
just and reasonable and paid to the victim to meet
the medical expenses and rehabilitation of such
victim.”

[Emphasis applied]

59. The minimum sentence for an aggravated penetrative

sexual assault has been thus increased from 10 years to 20

years and imprisonment for life has now been expressly stated

to be imprisonment for natural life of the person. Significantly,

`death sentence’ has also been introduced as a penalty for the

offence of aggravated penetrative sexualt assault on a child

below 12 years.

60. The Legislature has impliedly distanced itself from the

propounders of “No-Death Setence” in “No Circumstances”

47
theory and has re-stated the will of the people that in the

cases of brutal rape of minor children below the age of 12

years without murder of the victim, `death penalty’ can also

be imposed. In the Statement of Objects and Reasons of

amendment, Parliament has shown its concern of the fact that

“in recent past incidents of child sexual abuse cases

administering the inhuman mindset of the accused, who have

been barbaric in their approach to young victim, is rising in the

country.” If the Parliament, armed with adequate facts and

figures, has decided to introduce capital punishment for the

offence of sexual abuse of a child, the Court hitherto will bear

in mind the latest Legislative Policy even though it has no

applicability in a case where the offence was committed prior

thereto. The judicial precedents rendered before the recent

amendment came into force, therefore, ought to be viewed

with a purposive approach so that the legislative and judicial

approaches are well harmonised.

61. In the light of above discussion, we are of the considered

opinion that sentencing in this case has to be judged keeping

in view the parameters originating from Bachan Singh and

Machhi Singh cases and which have since been

strengthened, explained, distinguished or followed in a catena

48
of subsequent decisions, some of which have been cited

above. Having said that, it may be seen that the victim was

barely a two-year old baby whom the appellant kidnapped and

apparently kept on assaulting over 4-5 hours till she breathed

her last. The appellant who had no control over his carnal

desires surpassed all natural, social and legal limits just to

satiate his sexual hunger. He ruthlessly finished a life which

was yet to bloom. The appellant instead of showing fatherly

love, affection and protection to the child against the evils of

the society, rather made her the victim of lust. It’s a case

where trust has been betrayed and social values are impaired.

The unnatural sex with a two-year old toddler exhibits a dirty

and perverted mind, showcasing a horrifying tale of brutality.

The appellant meticulously executed his nefarious design by

locking one door of his house from the outside and bolting the

other one from the inside so as to deceive people into

believing that nobody was inside. The appellant was thus in

his full senses while he indulged in this senseless act.

Appellant has not shown any remorse or repentance for the

gory crime, rather he opted to remain silent in his 313 Cr.P.C.

statement. His deliberate, well-designed silence with a

standard defence of `false’ accusation reveals his lack of

49
kindness or compassion and leads to believe that he can never

be reformed. That being so, this Court cannot write off the

capital punishment so long as it is inscribed in the statute

book.

62. All that is needed to be followed by us is what O’

Conner J. very aptly observed in California v. Ramos, 463 U.S.

992 that the “qualitative difference of death from all other

punishments requires a correspondingly greater degree of

scrutiny of the capital sentencing determination” and in order

to ensure that the death penalty is not meted out arbitrarily or

capriciously, the Court’s principal concern has to be with the

procedure by which the death sentence is imposed than with

the substantive factors laid before it.

63. For the reasons aforestated, we dismiss the appeals and

affirm the death sentence.

………………………………..J.

(ROHINTON FALI NARIMAN)

…………………………… J.

(SURYA KANT)
NEW DELHI
DATED : 03.10.2019

50
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 1488-1489 OF 2018

Ravi S/o Ashok Ghumare …Appellant

Versus

The State of Maharashtra …Respondent

J U D G M E N T

R. Subhash Reddy, J.

1. I have gone through the opinion of my learned Brother,

Surya Kant, J. I am in agreement with the view

expressed in the said judgment, to the extent of

confirming the conviction recorded against the

appellant, for the offence under Sections 363, 376,

377 and 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (for short

‘IPC’). However, as I am of the view that, this is not

a fit case where the appellant is to be awarded

capital punishment, i.e, death penalty, as such, I

wish to share my view separately, in this judgment.

2. The appellant was tried for committing the rape and

murder on the minor girl child “Zoyabano” and he was

51
charged for offence punishable under Sections 363,

376, 377 and 302 IPC. After the trial, learned

Additional Sessions Judge at Jalna, by judgment dated

16.09.2015, has held that appellant is guilty for the

charges framed against him.

3. By order dated 18.09.2015, the trial court, by

recording a finding that crime committed by the

appellant is heinous, brutal and inhuman, convicted

and sentenced the appellant to death for the offence

punishable under Section 302 IPC and ordered that he

shall be hanged by neck till he is dead, subject to

confirmation by the High Court as per Section 366 of

Code of Criminal Procedure and also imposed a fine of

Rs.500/- (Rupees Five Hundred Only). Similarly,

learned Additional Sessions Judge has convicted the

appellant for offence punishable under Section 376 of

IPC and ordered sentence to suffer life imprisonment

and a fine of Rs. 500/-(Rupees Five Hundred Only) and

a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for 10 years for

the offence punishable under Section 377 IPC with a

fine of Rs.500/-(Rupees Five Hundred Only) and a

sentence of R.I. for one year for the offence

punishable under Section 363 with a fine of Rs.500/-

(Rupees Five Hundred Only). Further, it was ordered

52
that all the sentences of imprisonment shall run

concurrently.

4. The reference which was made to the High Court under

Section 366 was numbered as Confirmation Case No.1 of

2015 and the appeal preferred by the appellant was

numbered as criminal appeal No. 783 of 2015. The High

Court by the Common Judgment and Order dated

20.01.2016, while dismissing the criminal appeal

preferred by the appellant, has confirmed the death

sentence imposed under Section 302 IPC. Hence, these

appeals.

5. I am in agreement with the view expressed by my

learned Brother, to the extent of upholding

conviction, as such, there is no need to appreciate

the evidence on-record in detail. As such, I confine

consideration of such evidence on-record to the extent

to modify the sentence on the appellant.

6. For the conviction recorded against the appellant for

the offences alleged against him, by balancing the

aggravated and mitigated circumstances, I am of the

view that the death sentence imposed on the appellant

requires modification to that of the life

imprisonment, without any remission, for the following

reasons.

53

7. For the offence under Section 302 of IPC the

punishment prescribed for committing murder is death

or imprisonment for life. At first instance, challenge

to Section 302 of IPC was turned down by this Court in

the case of Jagmohan Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh3.

Further, in Constitution Bench, this Court in the case

of Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab4, ,concluded that

Section 302, providing death penalty for offence of

murder is constitutional. In the aforesaid judgment,

this Court has indicated the standards and norms,

restricting the area for imposition of death penalty.

Further, for considering the imposition of sentence of

death, aggravating and mitigating circumstances were

also broadly indicated. In the aforesaid judgment,

while considering the scope of Section 235(2) read

with Section 354(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure,

this Court has held that, in fixing the degree of

punishment or in making the choice of sentence for

various offences, including one under Section 302,

IPC, the Court should not confine its consideration

“principally or merely” to the circumstances connected

with the particular crime, but also due consideration

to the circumstances of the criminal. However, it is

3 1973(1) SCC 20
4 1980(2) SCC 684

54
observed that, what is the relative weight to be given

to the aggravating and mitigating factors, depends on

facts and circumstances of each case. The aggravating

and mitigating circumstances, as suggested by

Dr.Chitale were mentioned in the Judgment. Paragraphs

202 to 207 of the judgment reads as under:

“202. Drawing upon the penal statutes of
the States in U.S.A. framed after Furman
v. Georgia [33 L Ed 2d 346 : 408 US 238
(1972)] , in general, and clauses 2 (a),

(b), (c) and (d) of the Indian Penal Code
(Amendment) Bill passed in 1978 by the
Rajya Sabha, in particular, Dr Chitale
has suggested these “aggravating
circumstances”:

“Aggravating circumstances: A court may,
however, in the following cases impose
the penalty of death in its discretion:

(a) if the murder has been committed
after previous planning and involves
extreme brutality; or

(b) if the murder involves exceptional
depravity; or

(c) if the murder is of a member of any
of the armed forces of the Union or of a
member of any police force or of any
public servant and was committed—

(i) while such member or public servant
was on duty; or

(ii) in consequence of anything done
or attempted to be done by such member
or public servant in the lawful
discharge of his duty as such member
or public servant whether at the time
of murder he was such member or public
servant, as the case may be, or had
ceased to be such member or public
servant; or

55

(d) if the murder is of a person who
had acted in the lawful discharge of
his duty under Section 43 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure, 1973, or who
had rendered assistance to a
Magistrate or a police officer
demanding his aid or requiring his
assistance under Section 37 and
Section 129 of the said Code.”

203. Stated broadly, there can be no
objection to the acceptance of these
indicators but as we have indicated
already, we would prefer not to fetter
judicial discretion by attempting to make
an exhaustive enumeration one way or the
other.

204. In Rajendra Prasad [(1979) 3 SCC 646 :
1979 SCC (Cri) 749] , the majority said:

“It is constitutionally permissible to
swing a criminal out of corporeal existence
only if the security of State and Society,
public order and the interests of the
general public compel that course as
provided in Article 19(2) to (6)”. Our
objection is only to the word “only”. While
it may be conceded that a murder which
directly threatens, or has an extreme
potentiality to harm or endanger the
security of State and Society, public order
and the interests of the general public,
may provide “special reasons” to justify
the imposition of the extreme penalty on
the person convicted of such a heinous
murder, it is not possible to agree that
imposition of death penalty on murderers
who do not fall within this narrow category
is constitutionally impermissible. We have
discussed and held above that the impugned
provisions in Section 302 of the Penal
Code, being reasonable and in the general
public interest, do not offend Article 19,
or its “ethos” nor do they in any manner
violate Articles 21 and 14. All the reasons
given by us for upholding the validity of

56
Section 302 of the Penal Code, fully apply
to the case of Section 354(3), Code of
Criminal Procedure, also. The same
criticism applies to the view taken in
Bishnu Deo Shaw v. State of W.B. [(1979) 3
SCC 714 : 1979 SCC (Cri) 817] which follows
the dictum in Rajendra Prasad [(1979) 3 SCC
646 : 1979 SCC (Cri) 749] .

205. In several countries which have
retained death penalty, pre-planned murder
for monetary gain, or by an assassin hired
for monetary reward is, also, considered a
capital offence of the first-degree which,
in the absence of any ameliorating
circumstances, is punishable with death.
Such rigid categorisation would dangerously
overlap the domain of legislative policy.
It may necessitate, as it were, a
redefinition of ‘murder’ or its further
classification. Then, in some decisions,
murder by fire-arm, or an automatic
projectile or bomb, or like weapon, the use
of which creates a high simultaneous risk
of death or injury to more than one person,
has also been treated as an aggravated type
of offence. No exhaustive enumeration of
aggravating circumstances is possible. But
this much can be said that in order to
qualify for inclusion in the category of
“aggravating circumstances” which may form
the basis of “special reasons” in Section
354(3), circumstance found on the facts of
a particular case, must evidence
aggravation of an abnormal or special
degree.

206. Dr Chitale has suggested these
mitigating factors:

“Mitigating circumstances— In the exercise
of its discretion in the above cases, the
court shall take into account the following
circumstances:

(1) That the offence was committed under
the influence of extreme mental or
emotional disturbance.

57
(2) The age of the accused. If the accused
is young or old, he shall not be sentenced
to death.

(3) The probability that the accused would
not commit criminal acts of violence as
would constitute a continuing threat to
society.

(4) The probability that the accused can
be reformed and rehabilitated. The State
shall by evidence prove that the accused
does not satisfy the conditions (3) and (4)
above.

(5) That in the facts and circumstances of
the case the accused believed that he was
morally justified in committing the
offence.

(6) That the accused acted under the
duress or domination of another person.
(7) That the condition of the accused
showed that he was mentally defective and
that the said defect impaired his capacity
to appreciate the criminality of his
conduct.”

207. We will do no more than to say that
these are undoubtedly relevant
circumstances and must be given great
weight in the determination of sentence.
Some of these factors like extreme youth
can instead be of compelling importance. In
several States of India, there are in force
special enactments, according to which a
“child”, that is, “a person who at the date
of murder was less than 16 years of age”,
cannot be tried, convicted and sentenced to
death or imprisonment for life for murder,
nor dealt with according to the same
criminal procedure as an adult. The special
Acts provide for a reformatory procedure
for such juvenile offenders or children.”

8. Further in the three Judge Bench Judgment of this

Court, in the case of Machhi Singh and Ors. v. State

58
of Punjab5, this Court has considered tests to

determine “rarest of rare” case, to impose death

sentence under Section 302 IPC.

9. In the aforesaid judgment, this Court has held that

the following questions may be asked and answered, in

order to apply the guidelines indicated in Bachan

Singh case2, where the question of imposing the death

sentence arises.

(a) Is there something uncommon about the crime which

renders sentence for imprisonment for life inadequate

and calls for a death sentence?

(b) Are the circumstances of the crime such that

there is no alternative but to impose death sentence

even after according maximum weightage to the

mitigating circumstances, which speak in favour of the

offender?

10. In this judgment, it is held by this Court that the

guidelines indicated in Bachan Singh case2, will have

to be culled out and applied to the facts of each

individual case, where the question of imposing death

sentence arises. Paragraph 38 of the said judgment

reads as under:

“38. In this background the guidelines
indicated in Bachan Singh case2 will have

5 1983(3) SCC 470

59
to be culled out and applied to the facts
of each individual case where the question
of imposing of death sentence arises. The
following prepositions emerge from Bachan
2
Singh case :

(i) The extreme penalty of death need
not be inflicted except in gravest
cases of extreme culpability.

(ii) Before opting for the death
penalty the circumstances of the
‘offender’ also require to be taken
into consideration along with the
circumstances of the ‘crime’.

(iii) Life imprisonment is the rule
and death sentence is an exception. In
other words death sentence must be
imposed only when life imprisonment
appears to be an altogether inadequate
punishment having regard to the
relevant circumstances of the crime,
and provided, and only provided, the
option to impose sentence of
imprisonment for life cannot be
conscientiously exercised having
regard to the nature and circumstances
of the crime and all the relevant
circumstances.

(iv) A balance sheet of aggravating
and mitigating circumstances has to be
drawn up and in doing so the
mitigating circumstances have to be
accorded full weightage and a just
balance has to be struck between the
aggravating and the mitigating
circumstances before the option is
exercised.

11. In this judgment, on facts, by holding that it is a

cold-blooded, calculated and gruesome multiple

murders, as a reprisal in a family feud and 17

helpless, defenceless, innocent men, women and

children were gunned down while asleep on the same

60
night in quick succession in different neighbouring

villages, confirmed the death sentence imposed on

Machhi Singh and two others.

12. In this case, learned counsel for the appellant has

contended that the Trial Court as well as the High

Court, fell in error in confining nature and brutality

of crime alone, to award the sentence of death. It is

submitted that nature of crime alone is not sufficient

to impose the sentence of death, unless State proves

by leading cogent evidence that the convict is beyond

reform and rehabilitation. It is submitted that the

socio-economic conditions of the convict and the

circumstances under which crime is committed are

equally relevant for the purpose of considering

whether a death penalty is to be imposed or not. It is

submitted that as the case on hand, rests on

circumstantial evidence, same is also the ground not

to impose capital punishment, of death.

13. In support of his argument, learned counsel for the

appellant has relied on the three Judge Bench Judgment

of this Court, in the case of Kalu Khan v. State of

Rajasthan6, wherein the accused was charged for

offence of abduction, rape and murder of 4 year old

6(2015) 16 SCC 492

61
girl child, death sentence was commuted to life

imprisonment. Paragraphs 32 and 33 of the said

judgment reads as under:

“32. In our considered view, in the
impugned judgment and order, the High Court
has rightly noticed that life and death are
acts of the divine and the divine’s
authority has been delegated to the human
courts of law to be only exercised in
exceptional circumstances with utmost
caution. Further, that the first and
foremost effort of the Court should be to
continue the life till its natural end and
the delegated divine authority should be
exercised only after arriving at a
conclusion that no other punishment but for
death will serve the ends of justice. We
have critically appreciated the entire
evidence in its minutest detail and are of
the considered opinion that the present
case does not warrant award of the extreme
sentence of death to the appellant-accused
and the sentence of life imprisonment would
be adequate and meet the ends of justice.
We are of the opinion that the four main
objectives which the State intends to
achieve, namely, deterrence, prevention,
retribution and reformation can be achieved
by sentencing the appellant-accused for
life.

33. Before parting, we would reiterate the
sentiment reflected in the following lines
by this Court in Shailesh Jasvantbhai case
[Shailesh Jasvantbhai v. State of Gujarat,
(2006) 2 SCC 359 : (2006) 1 SCC (Cri)
499] : (SCC pp. 361-62, para 7)
“7. … Protection of society and stamping
out criminal proclivity must be the object
of law which must be achieved by imposing
appropriate sentence. Therefore, law as a
cornerstone of the edifice of ‘order’
should meet the challenges confronting the

62
society. Friedman in his Law in a Changing
Society stated that: ‘State of criminal law
continues to be — as it should be — a
decisive reflection of social consciousness
of society.’ Therefore, in operating the
sentencing system, law should adopt the
corrective machinery or deterrence based on
factual matrix. By deft modulation,
sentencing process be stern where it should
be, and tempered with mercy where it
warrants to be.”

14. In the case of Lehna v. State of Haryana7, it was

held that the special reasons for awarding the death

sentence must be such that compel the court to

conclude that it is not possible to reform and

rehabilitate the offender. Paragraph 14 of the said

judgment reads as under:

“……Death sentence is ordinarily ruled
out and can only be imposed for “special
reasons”, as provided in Section 354(3).
There is another provision in the Code
which also uses the significant expression
“special reason”. It is Section 361.

Section 360 of the 1973 Code re-enacts, in
substance, Section 562 of the Criminal
Procedure Code, 1898, (in short “the old
Code”). Section 361 which is a new
provision in the Code makes it mandatory
for the court to record “special reasons”
for not applying the provisions of Section

360. Section 361 thus casts a duty upon the
court to apply the provisions of Section
360 wherever itis possible to do so and to
state “special reasons” if it does not do
so. In the context of Section 360, the
“special reasons” contemplated by Section
361 must be such as to compel the court to
hold that it is impossible to reform and

7(2002) 3 SCC 76

63
rehabilitate the offender after examining
the matter with due regard to the age,
character and antecedents of the offender
and the circumstances in which the offence
was committed. This is some indication by
the legislature that reformation and
rehabilitation of offenders and not mere
deterrence, are now among the foremost
objects of the administration of criminal
justice in our country. Section 361 and
Section 354(3) have both entered the
statute-book at the same time and they are
part of the emerging picture of acceptance
by the legislature of the new trends in
criminology. It would not, therefore, be
wrong to assume that the personality of the
offender as revealed by his age, character,
antecedents and other circumstances and the
tractability of the offender to reform must
necessarily play the most prominent role in
determining the sentence to be awarded.
Special reasons must have some relation to
these factors.”

15. Learned counsel for the appellant has also relied on

the three Judge Bench Judgment of this Court, in the

case of Sunil v. State of Madhya Pradesh8, wherein the

accused, aged about 25 years at the relevant time, was

charged for offence of rape and murder of 4 year old

child, death sentence was commuted to that of life

imprisonment. In the said judgment, this Court has

held that one of the compelling/mitigating

circumstances that must be acknowledged in favour of

the appellant is his young age at which he had

committed the crime and further that the accused can

8(2017) 4 SCC 393

64
be reformed and rehabilitated, are the other

circumstances which could not but have been ignored by

courts below.

16. Reliance is also placed by learned counsel for the

appellant, on the three Judge Bench Judgment of this

Court, in the case of Rajendra Pralhaderao Wasnik v.

State of Maharashtra9, where accused was found guilty

of rape and murder of 3 year old child, death sentence

was substituted by life imprisonment, with a rider

that the convict shall not be released from custody

for the rest of his normal life.

17. The aforesaid three judgments relied on by the

learned counsel for the appellant, supports the case

of the appellant, when we consider to balance the

aggravating and mitigating circumstances of this case

on hand.

18. From the deposition of PW-9, it is clear that he is

a fruit vendor, residing in Nutan Vasahat area, Jalna

and the appellant also resides in the same lane.

Further, it is also clear from his deposition that

accused was under influence of liquor, on the day of

occurrence of crime. As such, it is clear that on the

day of occurrence, he was under influence of liquor

9Review Petition (Criminal) Nos. 306-307 of 2013

65
and he is aged about 25 years and he had no previous

history of any crimes and in absence of any evidence

from the side of the prosecution to show that he

cannot be reformed and rehabilitated to bring in to

the main stream of the society, the judgments relied

on by learned counsel for the appellant, fully support

the case of the appellant, to modify the sentence.

19. In the case of Machhi Singh and Ors. v. State of

Punjab3, this Court has confirmed that the death

sentence to Machhi Singh and two others, mainly by

recording a finding that it was a cold-blooded,

calculated and gruesome murders, as a reprisal in a

family feud, in which, 17 helpless, defenceless,

innocent men, women and children were gunned down, as

such, same can be termed as “rarest of rare” case. In

the case on hand, it cannot be said to be a pre-

planned and pre-meditated one. To record a finding

that a particular crime committed is a pre-planned and

pre-meditated one, something more is required of

planning to commit a murder on a day earlier to the

date of occurrence. In the case on hand, where it is

clear from the evidence on-record that the appellant

was under influence of liquor and committed the

offence, cannot be termed as a pre-planned one, to

66
count the same as an aggravating circumstance, for

balancing aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

20. In the case of Sandesh v. State of Maharashtra10,

this Court, once again, acknowledged the principle

that it is for the prosecution to lead evidence, to

show that there is no possibility that the convict

cannot be reformed. Similarly, in Mohinder Singh v.

State of Punjab11, it was held in Paragraph 23 of the

judgment as under:

“……As discussed above, life
imprisonment can be said to be completely
futile, only when the sentencing aim of
reformation can be said to be unachievable.
Therefore, for satisfying the second aspect
to the “rarest of rare” doctrine, the court
will have to provide clear evidence as to
why the convict is not fit for any kind of
reformatory and rehabilitation scheme.”

21. In the case of Sushil Sharma v. State (NCT of

Delhi)12, this Court acknowledged that among various

factors, one of the factors required to be taken into

consideration, for awarding or not awarding capital

punishment, is the possibility of reformation and

rehabilitation of the convict. This acknowledgment was

made in paragraph 103 of the judgment, which reads as

under:

10(2013) 2 SCC 479
11(2013) 3 SCC 294
12(2014) 4 SCC 317

67
“103. In the nature of things, there can be
no hard-and-fast rules which the court can
follow while considering whether an accused
should be awarded death sentence or not.
The core of a criminal case is its facts
and, the facts differ from case to case.

Therefore, the various factors like the age
of the criminal, his social status, his
background, whether he is a confirmed
criminal or not, whether he had any
antecedents, whether there is any
possibility of his reformation and
rehabilitation or whether it is a case
where the reformation is impossible and the
accused is likely to revert to such crimes
in future and become a threat to the
society are factors which the criminal
court will have to examine independently in
each case. Decision whether to impose death
penalty or not must be taken in the light
of guiding principles laid down in several
authoritative pronouncements of this Court
in the facts and attendant circumstances of
each case.”

22. In the case of Amit v. State of Maharashtra13, this

Court adverted to the prior history of the accused and

noted that there is no record of any previous heinous

crime and also there is no evidence that he would be a

danger to the society if the death penalty is not

awarded to him. Paragraph 10 of the said judgment

reads as under:

“10. The next question is of the sentence.

Considering that the appellant is a young
man, at the time of the incident his age
was about 20 years; he was a student; there
is no record of any previous heinous crime
and also there is no evidence that he will
be a danger to the society, if the death

13(2003) 8 SCC 93

68
penalty is not awarded. Though the offence
committed by the appellant deserves severe
condemnation and is a most heinous crime,
but on cumulative facts and circumstances
of the case, we do not think that the case
falls in the category of rarest of the rare
cases…….”

23. In the case of Surendra Pal Shivbalakpal v. State of

Gujarat14, this Court has held that the involvement in

any previous criminal case by the accused, was

considered to be a factor, to be taken into

consideration, for the purpose of awarding death

sentence. Paragraph 13 of the said judgment reads as

under:

“13. The next question that arises for
consideration is whether this is a “rarest
of rare case”; we do not think that this is
a “rarest of rare case” in which death
penalty should be imposed on the appellant.
The appellant was aged 36 years at the time
of the occurrence and there is no evidence
that the appellant had been involved in any
other criminal case previously and the
appellant was a migrant labourer from U.P.
and was living in impecunious circumstances
and it cannot be said that he would be a
menace to society in future and no
materials are placed before us to draw such
a conclusion. We do not think that the
death penalty was warranted in this case.
We confirm conviction of the appellant on
all the counts, but the sentence of death
penalty imposed on him for the offence
under Section 302 IPC is commuted to life
imprisonment.”

24. Further, this case on hand, rests solely on the

142005(3) SCC 127

69
circumstantial evidence.

25. In the case of Bishnu Prasad Sinha v. State of

Assam15, this Court has held that ordinarily, death

penalty would not be awarded, if the guilt of the

accused is proved by circumstantial evidence, coupled

with some other factors that are advantageous to the

convict. Paragraph 55 of the said judgment reads as

under:

“55. The question which remains is as to
what punishment should be awarded.
Ordinarily, this Court, having regard to
the nature of the offence, would not have
differed with the opinion of the learned
Sessions Judge as also the High Court in
this behalf, but it must be borne in mind
that the appellants are convicted only on
the basis of the circumstantial evidence.
There are authorities for the proposition
that if the evidence is proved by
circumstantial evidence, ordinarily, death
penalty would not be awarded. Moreover,
Appellant 1 showed his remorse and
repentance even in his statement under
Section 313 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure. He accepted his guilt.”

26. Further, in the case of Aloke Nath Dutta v. State of

West Bengal16, the principle that death penalty should

ordinarily not to be awarded, in a case arising out of

circumstantial evidence, was broadly accepted with the

15 (2007) 11 SCC 467
16(2007)12 SCC 230

70
rider that there should be some “special reason” for

awarding death penalty. Paragraph 174 of the said

judgment reads as under:

“174. There are some precedents of this
Court e.g. Sahdeo v. State of U.P.[(2004)
10 SCC 682] and Sk. Ishaque v. State of
Bihar[(1995) 3 SCC 392] which are
authorities for the proposition that if the
offence is proved by circumstantial
evidence ordinarily death penalty should
not be awarded. We think we should follow
the said precedents instead and, thus, in
place of awarding the death penalty, impose
the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for
life as against Aloke Nath. Furthermore we
do not find any special reason for awarding
death penalty which is imperative.”

27. In the case of Swamy Shraddananda v. State of

Karnataka17, this Court has held that the convictions

based on seemingly conclusive circumstantial evidence,

should not be presumed to be fool-proof. Paragraph 87

of the said judgment reads as under:

“87. It has been a fundamental point in
numerous studies in the field of death
penalty jurisprudence that cases where the
sole basis of conviction is circumstantial
evidence, have far greater chances of
turning out to be wrongful convictions,
later on, in comparison to ones which are
based on fitter sources of proof.

Convictions based on seemingly conclusive
circumstantial evidence should not be
presumed as foolproof incidences and the
fact that the same are based on
circumstantial evidence must be a definite
factor at the sentencing stage
deliberations, considering that capital

17(2007) 12 SCC 288

71
punishment is unique in its total
irrevocability. Any characteristic of
trial, such as conviction solely resting on
circumstantial evidence, which contributes
to the uncertainty in the culpability
calculus, must attract negative attention
while deciding maximum penalty for murder.”

28. From the above judgments referred, it is clear that

in a case of conviction based on circumstantial

evidence, ordinarily the extreme punishment of death

penalty should not be imposed. In a given case, guilt

of the accused is proved beyond reasonable doubt, by

establishing chain of circumstances, resulting in

conviction, such cases, by considering balancing

aspects of aggravating and mitigating circumstances,

in appropriate cases, death penalty can be imposed.

But, at the same time ordinarily, if no special

reasons exist, in a case of conviction based on

circumstantial evidence, death penalty should not be

imposed. In this case on hand, the conviction of the

appellant is mainly based on circumstantial evidence.

On this ground also, I am of the view that the death

sentence, imposed on him, is to be modified.

29. From the materials placed on record, it is clear

that accused is a permanent resident of Indira Nagar,

Jalna. The father of the deceased, PW-9, himself has

stated that he is a fruit vendor in Nutan Vasahat

72
area, Jalna, and accused also resides in the same

lane, nearby his residence. It is also clear from the

evidence of PW-9, to the East and West side of the

house of the appellant, a person having buffaloes used

to reside at the relevant time. From such evidence on-

record, it is easy to assess the socio-economic

condition of the appellant and it can certainly be

said that he is a person below poverty line.

30. In a judgment of this Court, in the case of Sunil

Damodar Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra18, while

holding that court must not only look at the crime but

also offender and to give due consideration to

circumstances of offender, has further held that in

imposing penalty, socio-economic condition can be

considered as one of the mitigating factors, in

addition to those indicated in Bachan Singh2 and

Machhi Singh3. Para 20 of the said judgment reads as

under:

“20. When there are binding decisions,
judicial comity expects and requires the
same to be followed. Judicial comity is an
integral part of judicial discipline and
judicial discipline the cornerstone of
judicial integrity. No doubt, in case there
are newer dimensions not in conflict with
the ratio of the larger Bench decisions or
where there is anything to be added to and
explained, it is always permissible to

18(2014) 1 SCC 129

73
introduce the same. Poverty, socio-

economic, psychic compulsions, undeserved
adversities in life are thus some of the
mitigating factors to be considered, in
addition to those indicated in Bachan Singh
[Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1980) 2
SCC 684 : 1980 SCC (Cri) 580] and Machhi
Singh [Machhi Singh v. State of Punjab,
(1983) 3 SCC 470 : 1983 SCC (Cri) 681]
cases. Thus, we are bound to analyse the
facts in the light of the aggravating and
mitigating factors indicated in the binding
decisions which have influenced the
commission of the crime, the criminal, and
his circumstances, while considering the
sentence.

31. In view of the aforesaid judgments of this Court

and evidence on record in this case, which establishes

the socio-economic condition of the appellant, as a

person below poverty line, can also be considered as

one of the mitigating factors, while balancing the

aggravating and mitigating factors.

32. I am conscious of recent amendments carried out to

the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act,

2012 (for short ‘POCSO Act’), by way of Protection of

Children from Sexual Offences Amendment Act, 2019. By

virtue of the said amendments, taking note of

increasing trend of crimes against the children,

minimum sentence is increased for various offences and

for offence under Section 6 of the Act i.e aggravated

penetrative sexual assault, minimum imprisonment,

which shall not be less than 20 years, which may

74
extend to natural life or penalty of death. Prior to

the amendments made by recent amending Act of 2019,

for offence under POCSO, death penalty was not

provided. By virtue of the amendments made in

appropriate cases, for offences falling under

provisions of the POCSO Act alone, a penalty of death

sentence can be imposed. In the case on hand, the

offence was committed prior to coming into force, of

the Act.

33. Even then, we cannot forget the legislative intent

which resulted in amendments to POCSO, while dealing

with the offences against the children. At the same

time, even for imposing the death sentence, for cases

arising out of the provisions under POCSO Act, 2012,

it is the duty of the courts to balance the

aggravating and mitigating circumstances. To balance

such aspects, the guidelines in Bachan Singh v. State

of Punjab2 and further reiterated in the case of

Machhi Singh and Ors. v. State of Punjab 3 and in the

case of Sushil Murmu v. State of Jharkhand19, will

continue to apply. Further, repeatedly, it is said by

this Court, in the various judgments that the

aggravating and mitigating factors are to be

19(2004) 2 SCC 338

75
considered with reference to the facts of each case

and there cannot be any hard and fast rule for

balancing such aspects.

34. I am clear in my mind that in this case on hand, the

mitigating circumstances of the appellant, dominate

over the aggravating circumstances, to modify the

death sentence to that of life imprisonment. Even as

per the case of prosecution, the appellant was under

influence of liquor at the time of committing the

offence, and there is no evidence on record from the

side of prosecution, to show that there is no

possibility of reformation and rehabilitation of the

appellant. Further, age of the appellant was 25 years

at the relevant time and conviction is solely based on

circumstantial evidence. Taking all such aspects into

consideration, the death penalty imposed on the

appellant is to be modified to that of life

imprisonment, for the offence under Section 302 IPC.

35. Long line of cases decided by this Court are

cited by learned counsel for the appellant, in similar

set of facts and circumstances, this Court has

modified the death sentence to that of imprisonment

for life, without any remission. Few recent decisions

of this Court are:

76

36. In a three Judge Bench Judgments of this Court, in

the case of Nand Kishore v. State of Madhya Pradesh20

dated 18.01.2019 and in the case of Raju Jagdish

Paswan v State of Maharashtra21 dated 17.01.2019, for

which I am party, in similar circumstances, this Court

has modified the death penalty to that of life

imprisonment, without any remission.

37. Further, in a recent three Judge Bench Judgment of

this Court, in the case of Vijay Raikwar v. State of

Madhya Pradesh22, where there was an offence involving

rape and murder of a girl aged about 7½ years, while

confirming the conviction of the offences under

Section 376(2)(f) and Section 201 IPC and also under

Sections 5(i), 5(m) and 5(r) read with Section 6 of

the POCSO Act, this Court commuted the death sentence

to life imprisonment.

38. In the aforesaid judgments, in a similar set of

facts, this Court has modified the sentence to life

imprisonment. In this case also there is no previous

crime record for the appellant. The above referred

judgment, supports the case of the appellant.

39. For the aforesaid reasons, these appeals are allowed

20 Criminal Appeal No. 94 of 2019
21Criminal Appeal No. 88-89/2019
22(2019) 4 SCC 210

77
in part. While confirming the conviction recorded by

the Trial Court, death sentence imposed on the

appellant is modified to that of life imprisonment i.e

to suffer for life till his natural death, without any

remission/commutation.

……………….J
[R.Subhash Reddy]

New Delhi;

October 03,2019

78

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