Delhi HC commutes life sentence of rape-murder convict to 20-year jail term

New Delhi:  The Delhi High Court has commuted the life sentence of a man to rigorous imprisonment for a period of 20 years without remission, in a rape and murder case.

The High Court’s judgment came after the convict Ram Tej challenged his conviction and life sentence awarded by a trial court in May 2018, in the rape and murder case.

A division bench of Justices Mukta Gupta and Poonam A. Bamba noted that the mitigating circumstances in the case are that the age of the appellant is 38 years at the moment, he has undergone 8 years of imprisonment and that he has two minor children and a wife to look after and there is no other person in the family to look after them.

Relying on the apex court’s judgement in Union of India vs V. Sriharan, the court said: “At the same time, the diabolic and depraved manner in which the appellant took the victim to a solitary place and not only sexually assaulted her but inserted broken sticks in her vaginal and anal cavities and thereafter committed the murder by strangulation, deserves imprisonment for a fixed term beyond remission.”

The court said that considering the mitigating and extenuating circumstances, a sentence of imprisonment for a period of 20 years without remission would serve the purpose.

“Consequently, the sentence awarded to the appellant by the trial court is modified to rigorous imprisonment for a period of 20 years without remission,” the bench said.

The court also asked the appellant to deposit a fine of Rs 50,000 each for offences punishable under Sections 376A IPC and 302 IPC and Rs 10,000 for offence punishable under Section 404 IPC.

“This amount if deposited shall be released as compensation in favour of the legal heirs of the deceased,” the court said.

The appellant is the sole bread earner of the family having two sons aged 10 years and 11 years. Since his parents have died, the two children are residing with their maternal grand-parents.

After hearing the counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant and Additional Public Prosecutor Prithu Garg appearing for the state, the court referred to the apex court’s decision in Mukesh vs State (NCT of Delhi) wherein the court observed: “Society’s reasonable expectation is that deterrent punishment commensurate with the gravity of the offence be awarded. When the crime is brutal, shocking the collective conscience of the community, sympathy in any form would be misplaced and it would shake the confidence of public in the administration of criminal-justice system. As held in Om Prakash vs State of Haryana (Om Prakash vs State of Haryana, (1999) 3 SCC 19 : 1999 SCC (Cri) 334), the court must respond to the cry of the society and to settle what would be a deterrent punishment for what was an apparently abominable crime.”


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