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SC converts death penalty to life term with 20 yrs minimum jail for convict in case of indiscriminate firing, killing six

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has commuted death penalty of a man to life term with a condition not to release him without 20 years imprisonment in a case related to killings of six people in indiscriminate firings due to village political rivalry in October, 2003.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai, B V Nagarathna and Prashant Kumar Mishra, in a recent decision, dismissed an appeal filed by Sudesh Pal against his conviction and life term.

The court, however, partly allowed the appeal by Madan and converted the capital punishment awarded to him into imprisonment with a fixed term of 20 years, including the period undergone, without remission.

The court said the Allahabad High Court was not justified in imposing the death penalty in case of one accused and converting the punishment in another to life term, though the role attributed to both of them was identical.

In case of Madan, the HC has noted he was awarded life imprisonment in another case.

The bench said if the HC’s judgement is maintained, it would lead to anomalous situation.

After going through the facts, the bench said the present case is not a case wherein it can be held that imposition of death penalty is the only alternative, though the act of the appellants and the other accused would certainly be the one which shocked the collective conscience of the society and fall in the category of rarest of rare cases.

The court noted six deaths were caused on account of brutal firing by the appellants and other accused persons.

“The entire village and the people residing in the surrounding areas must have been shocked by such heinous and gruesome act. Not only that, one of the eye witnesses was also murdered during the pendency of the trial. The terror of the appellants and other accused persons was of such a high magnitude that even the witnesses who had received grievous injuries did not support the prosecution case and were required to be declared hostile,” the bench said.

Madan is currently 64 years old and he has been in prison for 18 years and 3 months. During this entire duration, he has no history of any kind of prison offence, the court noted.

(Published 11 November 2023, 14:12 IST)

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