For a change

I’m not ranting at the ToI for their ‘reporting’. I’m ranting at the Supreme Court for giving them this to report.

Let me clarify something. I don’t think anything deserves the death penalty. But the law, as it stands, says that the ‘rarest of rare cases’ do. And to make sure that the death penalty is rarely awarded, the law says the trial court can’t award it by itself, the High Court has to agree. So, in this case, the trial court found this chap guilty. Then the High Court confirmed his sentence. And the Supreme Court,

Though it agreed with the trial court and the HC on the guilt of Singh, it said this was not a fit case for awarding death penalty.

Fair enough, they aren’t bound to accept the sentence along with the finding of guilt. But let us see why the Hon’ble Justices S B Sinha and Markandey Katju disagree with the sentence (emphasis mine):

we reduce the sentence to life imprisonment since it appears to us that the crime was committed in a fit of passion and does not come within the category of ‘rarest of rare’ cases.

I’m quoting from the Times report here, of course, since the judgement isn’t yet online. But I don’ think that’s actually a misquote. This is a man who killed two women after raping one of them. The Supreme Court of India thinks those are crimes committed in a ‘fit of passion’? It thinks that such a ‘fit of passion’ extenuates the crime some extent?

I think the Hon’ble Supreme Court is very male.

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2 Responses

  1. Maybe if it was J Arijit Pasayat… the accused would have already been giving his neck measurements for the noose…

    That said, I have a friend who interned with one of the above mentioned justices, and was quite confident, on the basis of the research he had done for the Hon’ble Judge that the murderer, who did it to settle political scores, in front of a classroom of children, would definitely hang. But of course, his Lordship had other ideas and turned it into life imprisonment.

    I think classifying a Court on the basis of one judgment is hazardous and very petty. As law persons (to quote another famous law teacher like youself ;)), we must be careful before judging the judges on the basis of one judgement. If JJ Katju and Sinha had confirmed death penalty on Kulwinder Singh in this case, it wouldn’t have become less “male”would it?

    If we could find say, a line of cases of the same nature decided by the same judges with the same rationale then perhaps your statement would be valid. Otherwise we would be descending to the levels of Arundhati Roy and the VHP (who by the way are exactly alike in their intolerance of opposing views, and inconvenient facts, the only difference being the ways in which they “express their intolerance ;)).

  2. … acc to me, there is nothing more cold-blooded than the ‘fit of passion’ in a rape case. The existence of that passion itself indicates the intent and knowledge of the crime- the rape and the consequent murder [probably to shut her up or to make her yield!] and it is certainly not an extenuating factor.

    Some crimes deserve death penalty. The problem with death penalty is the inherent discretion associated with it which swings cases on either side of the lifeline or deathbed as you may wish to name it. And it is invested with a bunch of people at the Bench. The discretion comes only because there is an option to be considered. No matter how well you justify the decision to award or not award the noose; there are ALWAYS people who think otherwise. To make life and ‘justice’ simpler, have no such option. Abolish it. It is far too great a discretion to give, to a set of people, each conditioned by their experience and ideologies and otherwise too!

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