The Allahabad High Court comprising of a bench of Justices Ramesh Sinha and Vinod Kumar Srivastava in the case of Ranjeet Yadav vs. State of U.P. has commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment in a case where a 4 year old girl was brutally raped and murdered by the accused. The Trial Court had convicted the accused and awarded a Death Sentence under section 302 IPC after which the accused had preferred an appeal in the High Court.
In the instant case, there was a mundan ceremony at the house of the deceased and many relatives had come to attend the ceremony. At 10 p.m., the deceased girl had gone to sleep on her father’s cot while all others were busy attending the guests and after the ceremony got over, they slept in the pundal itself. Next morning when the family members did not find the deceased, they began searching for her and was finally found at 5 p.m. lying in a nearby field in a dead condition. After the FIR was lodged, the police started the investigation and on investigation they found out the accused who had raped and murdered the minor girl.
A case was registered against the accused and it was proved beyond doubt that the accused had committed the rape and murder of the minor girl. The trial court convicted the accused under section 376 (2) (F) I.P.C. with imprisonment for life and Rs. 5,000/- fine and under section 201 I.P.C. 5 years imprisonment and Rs. 3,000/- fine, and under section 302 I.P.C. imprisonment of death (hanged to death).
The accused preferred an appeal in the High Court, which later commuted the death sentence awarded by the trial court to life imprisonment. After discussing a few judgments laid down by the Supreme Court of India, the High Court observed that they will have the decide the case on whether there are mitigating circumstances which can be taken into account for the appellant’s death sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment. On going through the facts and evidence of the case in detail, the High Court held that, that the present case doesn’t classify as a rarest of rare case and so a death sentence cannot be awarded.
The High Court observed,
“41. Now in the light of the principles laid down in Bachan Singh( supra) case, which has been followed by the Supreme in its latest decisions, as seen above, the present case has to be adjudged whether there are mitigating circumstances which could be taken into account for appellants’ death sentence commuted to life imprisonment to extend full term of life.
42. In the instant case, the State has failed to show that the appellant is a continuing threat to Society or he is beyond reform or rehabilitation. Secondly, accused appellant Ranjeet aged about 20 years, when his statement was recorded by the trial Court under Section 313 Cr.P.C on 1.6.2013. Thirdly, there is no material shown by the State or the complainant to that there was a probability that the appellant would again commit criminal acts of violence as would constitute a continuing threat to Society.
43. In the instant case a minor girl aged about four years has been murdered after committing rape on her by the appellant which is undoubtedly a grave and heinous offence for which the duty of the Court is to impose adequate punishment depending upon the degree of criminality and desirability to impose such punishment, as a measure of social necessity and also as a means of deterring other potential offenders the sentence should be appropriate and befitting the crime.
44. Having considered the principles discussed in the Bachan Singh case (Supra) as well as Rameshbhai Chandubhai Rathod (supra) and other cases of the Apex Court mentioned above, we are of the opinion that the present case does not fall within the category of ‘rarest of rare cases’ where the other option of awarding a sentence of imprisonment for life is unquestionably foreclosed. The death sentence taking into all aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the appellant’s death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment to extend to the full term of life of the appellant would be sufficient and meet the ends of justice. We, therefore, reduce the sentence under section 302 I.P.C. of death of the appellant to life imprisonment which extend to the full term of life of the appellant. The sentence imposed by the trial court on the appellant on all other counts would remain unaltered.
45. The accused appellant is already confined in jail, hence he shall serve out the sentence as altered/modified by this Court under section 302 I.P.C. as well as on all other counts by the trial court. All the sentences shall run concurrently.
46. Thus, the reference made by the trial court as well as prayer made by the State to confirm the sentence of death of the appellant under section 302 I.P.C. are hereby rejected.
47. The appeal filed by the accused-appellant is partly allowed. “