NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday commuted the death sentence awarded to a man for kidnapping and murdering a 12-year-old boy in 2009.
Observing that the case does not fall in the category of 'rarest of rare cases', a bench of Justices Mukta Gupta and Anish Dayal, in the 64-page order said, it is not a case where reformation of the appellant (man) is not possible and the life imprisonment with no remission till 20 years would be the 'appropriate sentence' for him.
Accordingly, the bench ordered that "The sentence of the appellant is thus modified to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment with no remission and to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh, in default whereof, to undergo simple imprisonment for six months for an offence punishable under Section 302 IPC (Punishment for murder)."
However, the high court did not modify his charges under kidnapping, destroying of evidence, and punishment for criminal intimidation, saying it will remain the same.
Earlier, the trial court had awarded a death sentence to the appellant Jeevak Nagpal in Rohini in the national capital, considering the circumstances that he kidnapped his neighbour's son, demanded ransom from the father, threatened the boy's family, murdered the minor by causing injuries with jack handle of his car and smothering him and thereafter, disposed of the boy's body in an attempt to destroy evidence.
Going through the present case, the high court noted that "it is evident that the appellant was in financial stringency and needed money for which he had kidnapped the child. From the evidence on record, it appears that the murder was not preplanned as the appellant was not armed with any weapon, however, when the appellant got stuck with his car, he smothered the victim and used the jack handle of his car to inflict injuries on the deceased so as to cause his death."
"Though causing the death of someone in itself is perversity, causing death by smothering and inflicting injuries by jack handle though opined to be consistent with intense torture, cannot be held to be a diabolic or seriously perverse manner of committing murder so as to shock the collective conscience of the society and fall in the category of rarest of rare cases," the order further stated.
The court further noted that no material has been placed on record by the State to show that the appellant is a menace to society with no possibility of any reformation and that there is no other option except to award the extreme sentence of death.
There is no previous criminal history either of the appellant or his family members. On the psychological assessment of the appellant, no such ailment or past history has been found, the order held.