SLP against Death Sentence can’t be Dismissed without Giving Reasons- Supreme Court

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November 25, 2018

Case name: Babasaheb Maruti Kamble v. State of Maharashtra

In the case, the Petitioner has challenged his conviction for offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, whereby he was awarded death penalty.  Petitioner challenged his conviction on the ground that in a case where conviction is followed by death sentence, and special leave petition is filed then such petition (SLP) should not be dismissed in limine and in case the Supreme Court still finds it fit to do so, some reasons need to be recorded.

Bench’s Verdict

In view the prevailing law and precedents, the Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the case has principally held that special leave petition filed in those cases where death sentence is awarded by the courts below, should not be dismissed without giving reasons, at least qua death sentence.

Other observations made by the Supreme Court in the case are as under:

That when death sentence is rare, the Apex Court has emphasised time and again that in such cases there has to be an independent examination by this Court also, ‘unbound by the findings of the trial court and the High Court’ and that such approach is the ‘time-honoured practice of this Court’.

Whether the death penalty is to be given imprimatur by the Supreme Court, even after the approval thereof by the High Court? In this context, the Supreme Court has said that case laws of this Court amply demonstrates that proper exercise of sentence discretion calls for consideration of various factors like the nature of offence, circumstances—both extenuating or aggravating, the prior criminal record, if any, of the offender, the age of the offender, his background, his education, his personal life, his social adjustment, the emotional and mental condition of the offender, the prospects for the rehabilitation of the offender, the possibility of his rehabilitation in the life of community, the possibility of treatment or training of the offender, the possibility that the sentence may serve as a deterrent to crime by the offender or by others.

In view of the aforesaid observations, the Apex Court has held that SLP filed in those cases where death sentence is awarded by the courts below, should not be dismissed without giving reasons, at least qua death sentence and accordingly the revision petition was allowed by the Supreme Court in the case.

The Supreme Court’s ruling can be accessed here.