NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday commuted the death penalty awarded to M A Antony for hacking to death six members of a family in Aluva in 2001 to life imprisonment. A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said the trial court, the Kerala High Court and the apex court had overlooked the probability of convict’s reform and his reintegration into society while awarding him the capital punishment.
Antony was sentenced to death by a trial court in January, 2005 for murdering six members of a family within three hours in the intervening night of January 6-7, 2001 due to a financial dispute.
The trial court’s order was upheld by the High Court in September 2006 after which he approached the apex court.
The Supreme Court dismissed his appeal in April 2009 and subsequently, his plea seeking review of the judgement was also rejected in April, 2010.
However, his review petition was re-opened for consideration by the top court following a constitution bench’s verdict in which the apex court had held that appeals pending before it in death sentence cases be heard only by a bench of three-judges.
While commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment, the court said the trial court and the High Court should have taken into consideration his socio-economic condition while awarding the punishment.
The bench said it did not think it necessary to consider the period of incarceration of the convict as a factor for deciding whether or not he should be awarded the death sentence.
“There are a number of cases where convicts have been on death row for more than six years and if a standard period was to be adopted, perhaps each and every person on death row might have to be given the benefit of commutation of death sentence to one of life imprisonment,” it said.