Review of Death Penalty II

Sumit was Appellant Swapan’s first cousin, mother’s brother’s son. Appellant ‘kidnapped’, ‘drugged’, ‘throttled’ Sumit, placing ‘ransom calls’ for Rs. 20 Lakhs.

Star Witness: Dulal Mahto, Driver, Indica Car No. JH 09D 6666. Unbroken chain of circumstances pointed unequivocally towards guilt.

The SC remembered well-settled legal propositions. First, Death Penalty is to be imposed only when it is the only inevitable conclusion and the alternative of Life Imprisonment is totally inadequate and therefore unquestionably foreclosed. Second, Courts must consider aggravating circumstances of the crime as well as the mitigating circumstances.

The SC acknowledged Swapan’s ‘heightened cuplability’ in ‘spearheading’ the ‘gravity of the offence’, the ‘deeply condemnable act’ committed in a ‘premeditated manner’ involving ‘heartless betrayal of trust’ to ‘destroy one’s own family for short term pecuniary gain’, causing ‘agony to blood relations’.

However, the SC did not find the offence to be ‘unspeakably brutal’, ‘exceptionally heinous’ for reasons that it was committed ‘at a young age when it is easy to get swayed by the lure of shortcuts to earn money’ and there is ‘nothing to show’ that the Appellant is ‘absolutely beyond reform and rehabilitation’, ‘such a menace to society that he cannot be allowed to stay alive’.

SC thought ‘fit’ to commute the Death Sentence to Life Imprisonment, restricting Claims of Remission for 25 Years.

 Hon’ble Justice N.V. Ramana, Hon’ble Justice M.M. Shantanagoudar, Hon’ble Justice M.R. Shah, Swapan Kumar Jha v. State of Jharkhand, [Criminal Appeal Nos. 1396-97 of 2012].