Adopting a “humanist approach,” the Supreme Court Monday saved from the gallows a man sentenced to death in 2008 for killing his wife and daughter in Punjab when he was out of jail on parole. He had been jailed for 12 years in 2001 for raping the same daughter when she was a minor.
A bench of Justices P Sathasivam and F M Ibrahim Kalifulla held that although the crime in question was “gruesome” and “grotesque” and the convict’s previous conduct in raping his own daughter was “beastly”, the principles of sentencing required commuting his punishment to life imprisonment.
The man raped his daughter in 1999 and his wife was a witness. In January 2006, he was released on parole when he axed to death his wife and daughter. This time, his second daughter witnessed the incident and testified against him. The trial court awarded the death sentence and the high court confirmed it.
However, after comparing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the apex court said it was “not persuaded” to accept that the case can be called “rarest of rare”, warranting death penalty for the man who is now 48 years old.
“It was thirst for retaliation, which became the motivating factor in this case. In no words are we suggesting that the motive of the accused was correct, rather we feel it does not come within the category of ‘rarest of rare’...” the court held.