The Supreme Court in the matter of Digambar v/s The state of Maharashtra commuted the death sentence of a man who murdered his sister and her lover on the ground that the offense does not fall under the rarest of rare category and the man does not have any criminal history before this.
The convict killed his sister and her lover from another caste in 2017 and surrendered himself before the police station and got the fir lodged against himself.
The trial court through its judgment in 2019 convicted the man under section 302, 201,120B of IPC and sentenced him to the death penalty.
The Bombay High Court confirmed the death penalty and life imprisonment imposed upon the appellant.
Therefore, the appellant approached the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court.
Contentions of the appellant-
The applicant contended that there is no evidence apart from the extrajudicial confession before the police and only on the basis of the evidence of last seen together and without there being any corroboration the conviction could not have been recorded by the trial court.
The present case cannot be considered to be the rarest of rare cases to award the death penalty.
The court observed-
The prosecution case is mainly based upon the circumstances of the accused as being lastly seen with the deceased and the death of the deceased occurring shortly thereafter.
Justice Sanjay Karol, Vikram Nath and B R Gavi observed that the appellant was a young boy of about 25 years at the time of the incident and the medical evidence reveals that the applicant has not acted in a brutal manner as there is only a single injury inflicted on both the deceased and therefore the present case cannot be considered to be rarest of health case.
The probation officers report as well as the Superintendent of Nashik Rd. Central prison shows that the appellant is found to be well-behaved, helpful and a person with leadership qualities therefore he is not a person with a criminal mindset and criminal record.
The court observed that though the extrajudicial confession of the appellant-accused cannot be taken into consideration the conduct of going to the police station and surrendering before the police can certainly be taken into consideration in view of Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act and therefore the court upheld the conviction of both the accused under section 302 of IPC.
However, with regard to the death penalty, the court observed that the offense does not fall under the rarest of rare category and therefore the doctrine and the mitigating circumstances are in favor of the appellant.
The court relied upon the report of the probation officer which reveals that the sarpanch and the people in the village stated that the marriage of the deceased sister and her deceased friend was putting social pressure and the incident was a result of sudden provocation by the appellant.
Thus in light of the above observations the supreme court taking in view the young age of the appellant at the time of committing the offense and the manner in which the offense was committed making it not fall under the rarest of rare categories and no criminal antecedent of the appellant and the report of a probation officer as well as the Superintendent of the correctional commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment.