SC saves man convicted for murder from the gallows

New Delhi, Feb 22 (PTI) Giving an opportunity to theconvict to reform, the Supreme Court today reduced to lifeimprisonment the death penalty awarded to Ramesh convicted forthe twin murder of a money lender and his wife in Rajasthan.

A bench of justices V S Sirpurkar and T S Thakur, whilealtering the punishment, however upheld the life imprisonmentto two others Bharat Kumar and Gordhan Lal for the murderof Ramlal Lunawat and his wife Shanti Devi on February 5, 2003in Rajasthan''s Phalodi town.

The trio had committed the crime by stabing the victimsto death late in the night after they raised an alarm.

The sessions court had awarded death sentence to Rameshand life imprisonment to the other two. The Rajasthan HighCourt had upheld the sentence, after which they appealed inthe apex court.

Citing the Santosh Kumar vs Maharashtra (2009) case, theapex court said that to satisfy the criteria of awarding deathsentence for the "rarest of rare" cases, the court must besatisfied that the convict was beyond reform and awarding alife imprisonment would be a futile exercise.

"In our opinion, there has been no such exercise takeneither by the trial court or the appeallate court nor do wefind any discussion about the life imprisonment being renderedfutile and serving no purpose," Justice Sirpurkar, writing thejudgement, said.

Referring to the ruling in Bachan Singh''s case, theapex court said the age of the accused has to be taken intoconsideration as a mitigating factor.

"Accused Ramesh is a young person. We do not see anyreason as to why he cannot be reformed and rehabilitated. Wemust also take into consideration that this was the firstproved offence of accused Ramesh. No other conviction has beenproved agianst him by the prosecution. Since this is hismaiden conviction, we do not see as to how accused Rameshcannot be reformed.

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