DB commutes death sentence into life-imprisonment in rape and murder case

28/09/2022
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JAMMU, Sep 27: A Division Bench of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court Comprising Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Mohd Akram Chowdhary commute the death sentence into life-impriosnment in murder case.
While commuting the death sentence of Sonam Dorjay @ Jamwang Tashi into life-imprisonment, the Division Bench observed that having regard to recording of conviction based on circumstantial evidence only, long incarceration of the appellant for more than two decades, and after critical appreciation of the entire evidence in its minute detail, we are of the considered opinion that the present case does not warrant award of extreme sentence of death to the appellant-accused, as the sequence of alleged crime is not that diabolical or cruel so as to attract the extreme penalty of capital punishment. The convict is stated to be in the middle of his age and was a young-man when he is alleged to have committed the crime. He is also stated to be belonging to the poor strata of society and cannot be said to be a threat to the society at large, which may warrant to eliminate him to save the society.
In the backdrop of reformatory approach which is the policy in vogue, the sentence of life imprisonment would be adequate and will meet the ends of justice with the objectives which the State intends to achieve namely deterrence, prevention, retribution and reformation. Since the factual matrix of the case does not make it the 'rarest of the rare', we are of the opinion that the ends of justice would be met by altering the sentence from death to life imprisonment for the commission of offence punishable under Section 302 RPC. Death sentence is, thus, ordered to be commuted to life imprisonment and fine of Rs.5000/- under Section 302 RPC. In default of payment of fine, the appellant-convict shall undergo simple imprisonment for a period of two months.
On perusal of the sentencing order dated 04.12.2012, passed by the trial court, DB found that the convict was sentenced to capital punishment of death for the commission of murder punishable under Section 302 RPC, however, no sentence has been awarded for the conviction of rape punishable under Section 376 RPC, though the conviction was recorded for the commission of both the aforesaid offences. Though it could be a justifiable reason to remand the case to the trial court to decide this aspect of the case, however, in view of the inordinate delay in disposal of the case by the trial court and long incarceration spanning over two decades, instead of remanding the case to trial court, it is proposed to decide the same by this Court. The convict is, thus, sentenced to undergo eight years imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 5000/- for the commission of offence punishable under Section 376 RPC. In default of payment of fine, the appellant-convict shall undergo simple imprisonment for a period of two months. Both the sentences of imprisonment are directed to run concurrently.
With these observations, Division Bench observed that the impugned judgment of recording conviction of the appellant-accused for the commission of rape and murder, is maintained and upheld, however, the impugned order of sentence, is modified in terms of the above order.

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