Kidnapping & Murder Of An 8-Year Old, SC Commutes Death Sentence to Life Imprisonment

Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence of two convicts to life imprisonment. It related to kidnapping and murdering an eight-year-old for ransom in Nagpur in 2014. The Supreme Court bench comprised of Justices UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra & Hemant Gupta.

The decision came in after the appellants Rajesh Daware(A1) and Arvind Singh (A2) filed appeals. In Bombay High Court, appeals made against their conviction for offences punishable under Section 364A read with Section 34 of IPC and Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC. The Sessions Court dismissed them by awarding them a death sentence.

Facts & Decision of Trial Court & High Court

The boy’s father made an oral statement about his missing son to the police sub-inspector in Nagpur. After inquiring about his missing son from the watchman of their society, he got to know that an unknown boy aged about 20-25 years had inquired about “Yug” (the victim) from him. Accordingly, he saw Yug being driven off on a scooter by the Appellant(s).

An FIR was registered under Section 363 IPC, to which Sections 364A was added. The addition made following the information about kidnapping and death. After the completion of Investigation, Trial Court awarded death sentence to the appellants. Thereafter, the Bombay High Court upheld the Trial Court’s decision and confirmed the death sentence against the appeals filed earlier by the appellants under Section 364A, 302 and 34 of IPC.

Thus, the appellants filed an appeal to the SC.

Analysis of Various Aspects by the Supreme Court

(1) Common Intention – The Court held that the facts directly point out to the existence of a common intention. Related to murder and kidnapping by both appellants. The SC held:

“In the present appeals, the facts speak volumes about the common intention shared by both the appellants. Both the accused planned the kidnapping and executed it together… Thus, the facts prove that both the accused had a common intention to kidnap the child”.

(2) Applicability of Section 106 of The Indian Evidence Act – The Court held that the prosecution has to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the prosecution confirmed this again and again. It said:

“The prosecution has discharged the onus of proof beyond reasonable doubt. It was then for the accused to rebut the presumption of any other intervening fact before the death of the victim”.

(3) Section 313 of the Code Effect –  The effect of putting incriminating evidence to the accused under Section 313 of the CrPC. It said:

“In the present case, there is overwhelming evidence that shows the victim to be in the company of the accused at five different places from 16:00 hrs. to 17:30 hrs –60 18.00 hrs. Thereafter, the burden shifts to the accused to explain the circumstances which occurred thereafter until the time of the recovery of the dead body. There is no evidence to create a doubt on the prosecution version that somebody else had access to the victim before he died”.

Decision

SC upheld the conviction of the appellants as confirmed by the Trial Court and the High Court. Affirmed under Section 302 and 364A read with Section 34 of IPC. Hence, the Bench concluded it to be in the ‘rarest of rare’ cases where a death sentence alone deserves to be awarded to the appellants. However, the death sentence awarded by the Trial Court, confirmed by the High Court, converted into life imprisonment. Additionally, there shall not be any remission until the accused completes 25 years of imprisonment.

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