HYDERABAD: While upholding the conviction of a special POCSO court in Warangal in the rape and murder case of a 9-month-old child in June, a division bench of the High Court has reduced the death sentence to life imprisonment with a rider that the convict shall not be granted any remission and shall not be released till his last breath.
“Admittedly the appellant (convict Polepaka Praveen alias Pawan) is only 25-years old; belongs to a backward cast, illiterate, poor and has never committed a grievous crime. Hence, the prosecution has not produced any evidence to show that the appellant is beyond reformation. Moreover, by imposing the death penalty, the society and the State admit that they are incapable of reforming the accused. But a young life has to be given a chance to reform himself/herself,’’ the court observed while reducing the sentence.
On Aug 8 this year, the trial court, in its verdict which was delivered within 48 days of the incident, imposed death sentence to Praveen, who on June 18 kidnapped the infant, raped and murdered after lifting the baby from their house in Kumarpally in Hanamkonda. He was caught by the girl’s family within hours, but by then the child was murdered. After conviction, Praveen filed an appeal before the high court.
After hearing the case, the bench found that the prosecution has succeeded in establishing a complete chain of circumstances which point to the guilt of the accused, and has submitted sufficient evidence to conclude its case against the appellant. As for the incident, it was not a pre-planned murder. Besides, the case does not fall within the extreme category of “rarest of the rare”. The trial court is unjustified in concluding that the appellant did not show any remorse.
Here an infant has been raped and killed, and the incident disturb the conscience of the society, and of the court. However, the court should objectively weigh the evidence to see if death penalty is the only option, or a punishment can be chosen which would incapacitate the culprit, would deter others from committing such crimes in future, which would permit the society to reform the culprit, and would still fulfill the need of justice of the society, the bench opined.