New Delhi, Mar 28, 2023: Twenty-eight years after the murder, Supreme Court on Monday ordered the release of a death row convict after finding he was a minor at the time of the crime.
The Supreme Court on Monday directed to release of a death row convict observing that he was minor at the time of the offence and has suffered imprisonment for more than 28 years.
A bench of justices KM Joseph, Aniruddha Bose and Hrishikesh Roy directed that the convict shall be released forthwith from the correctional home.
"He (convict) shall be set free forthwith from the correctional home in which he remains imprisoned, as he has suffered imprisonment for more than 28 years, having regard to the provisions of Section 18 of the 2015 Act," the court said.
The top court accepted the report of the Inquiring Judge and said, "In the light of the findings and the reasons we have disclosed above for arriving at such finding, we accept the report of the Inquiring Judge."
The court said that the date of birth of the applicant as reflected in the certificate issued by the Rajkiya Adarsh Uccha Madhaymik Vidyalaya, Jalabsar, tehsil Shri Dungargarh in Bikaner district was to be accepted for determining his age at the time of the commission of the offence of which he has been convicted.
Going by that certificate, his age at the time of the commission of the offence was 12 years and 6 months, the court said.
The court said that he was a child/juvenile on the date of commission of the offence for which he has been convicted, in terms of the provisions of the 2015 Act.
This shall be deemed to be the true age of a convict who was tried and convicted, the court said.
He has already served more than three years of incarceration and under the law, as it prevailed at the time of the commission of the offence as also under the 2015 Act, he cannot be subjected to capital punishment, the SC bench said.
"In view of this finding, the order sentencing him to death passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Pune in Sessions Case of 1994 and subsequently confirmed by the High Court and by this Court would stand invalidated by operation of law," the court said.
The court was hearing a plea filed by the convict under Section 9(2) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 requesting SC to hold that the applicant, who is a convict for committing offences dealing with murder and other charges was a juvenile on the date of commission of the offence.
The applicant was sentenced to death by the Pune court in February 1998. The top court and high court confirmed the sentence. Thereafter the petitioner filed the review petition for relief.