Kerala HC sets aside death penalty in murder case

The Kerala High Court commuted the death penalty awarded to the convict in a 2010 murder case to rigorous imprisonment for life.

Published: 21st June 2017 07:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st June 2017 07:40 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court commuted the death penalty awarded to the convict in a 2010 murder case to rigorous imprisonment for life. The court said the accused, Rasheed,35, hailing from Meenangadi in Wayanad, should not be released from prison till he completed the actual prison term of 40 years.

The case

According to the prosecution, Rasheed landed in Kochi to raise funds for going abroad as he was broke. On November 16, 2010, he approached a woman named Bindu, of Pachalam, seeking a room on the third floor of her residence for rent. Rasheed murdered Bindu and stole her ornaments when she took him to the third floor.

The court observed the facts and circumstances in the case clearly showed all the material prosecution witnesses had definitely put forward a consistent case.

“On applying the principles in the case of award of death penalty, We (the court) found this as not a fit case to be classified as the ‘rarest of rare cases’ warranting a death penalty,” the court stated.

Counsel for the accused submitted a case within the category of rarest of rare cases only deserved the extreme punishment. According to him, the sentence and the fine imposed on the accused are extremely harsh and not commensurate to the socio-economic status of the accused.

Fine amount

The trial court had imposed a fine of `11,10,000 on the accused for various offences. The court observed it was paradoxical to impose such a huge amount as fine when the prosecution itself cited extreme poverty of the accused as a predominant motive for committing the crime. “Considering the allegations against the accused and over all circumstances brought out in evidence, the fine imposed on the accused is highly excessive and the default imprisonment is also unjustifiably long,” the court said.  

Quantum and severity of punishment, especially capital punishment, directly depend on the nature of the crime, brutality with which it was done, nature of the weapon used, the condition or situation of the victim, the manner in which it was committed, the societal impact of the crime, the antecedents of the offender and the like factors. In this case, the material aspects revealed from the prosecution evidence show the accused was in dire financial constraints and he was struggling to support a family. The prosecution has no case he is a hardcore criminal involved in any other offence. The young age of the accused is also a favourable factor.

The court held the prosecution succeeded in establishing beyond reasonable doubt the accused committed murder of Bindu after confining her in room on the second floor of her residential building with an intention to rob her gold ornaments.

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