Review of Death Penalty XV

It must be noted that though it may be a relevant consideration in sentencing that the evidence in a given case is circumstantial in nature, there is no bar on the award of the Death Sentence in cases based upon such evidence [Swamy Shraddananda v. State of Karnataka, (2007) 12 SCC 288; Ramesh v. State of Rajasthan, (2011) 3 SCC 685)]. 

It would also be pertinent to refer to the discussion in Ashok Debbarma v. State of Tripura, (2014) 4 SCC 747, where this Court elaborated upon the concept of ‘residual doubt’, which simply means that in spite of being convinced of the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, the Court may harbour lingering or residual doubts in its mind regarding such guilt. This Court noted that the existence of residual doubt was a ground sometimes urged before American Courts as a mitigating circumstance with respect to imposing the Death Sentence. 

The Court in Satishbhushan Bariyar v. State of Maharashtra, (2009) 6 SCC 498 observed that the the irrevocable punishment of Death must only be imposed when there is no other alternative, and asserted that in cases resting on circumstantial evidence, the Doctrine of Prudence should be invoked.

Life Imprisonment; No Remission.

Hon’ble Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, Sudam v. The State of Maharashtra, [Review Petition (Criminal) Nos. 401-402 of 2012].