The Supreme Court in the case of Shiva Kumar @ Shiva @ Shivamurthy vs State of Karnataka held that lack of criminal antecedents of a convict is not the sole criterion to decide whether the case falls under the rarest of rare category and Constitutional courts can modify the sentence of life imprisonment to mandate a minimum term like 20 years or 30 years, even in cases where the trial court has not prescribed death penalty. The Court further said that in cases involving the death penalty several other factors have to be considered and showing undue leniency in brutal offences will negatively impact the confidence of the public in the legal system.
In this case, the appellant was convicted of murdering a woman working in an IT firm in Bengaluru when she used the appellant’s vehicle for conveyance from her office to home at 2 am. Thereafter, the woman went missing and her dead body was recovered at the instance of the appellant who was then charged with the offence of rape and murder. The appeal was made to the HC but was dismissed. The appellant, therefore, filed the present appeal in the Apex Court.
It was submitted before the Court that the convict was only 22 years old at the time of the offence but now he has his wife, children and aged parents. Moreover, his conduct in jail, where he completed an underground degree was also satisfactory. The appeal was thus, partly allowed and the Court concluded that “This is one case where a Constitutional Court must exercise the power of imposing a special category of modified punishment … we are of the opinion that this is a case where a fixed term sentence for a period of thirty years must be imposed.”