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Mofil Khan And Anr. vs The State Of Jharkhand - (Supreme Court) (26 Nov 2021)

Before imposing the extreme penalty of death sentence, the Court should satisfy itself that, death sentence is imperative



Present Petition has been filed under Article 137 of the Constitution of India, 1950 seeking review of the judgment. The Petitioners were convicted for offences under Sections 302 and 449 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (“IPC”) and sentenced to death for offence under Section 302 read with Section 34 of IPC and 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for offence under Section 449 read with Section 34 of IPC. The conviction and death sentence imposed by the trial court was upheld by the High Court by an order and the Criminal Appeal filed by the Petitioners against the said order was dismissed by this Court by its judgment.

In Mohd. Mannan v. State of Bihar, it was held that, before imposing the extreme penalty of death sentence, the Court should satisfy itself that death sentence is imperative, as otherwise the convict would be a threat to the society, and that there is no possibility of reform or rehabilitation of the convict, after giving the convict an effective, meaningful, real opportunity of hearing on the question of sentence, by producing material. The hearing of sentence should be effective and even if the accused remains silent, the Court would be obliged and duty-bound to elicit relevant factors.

It is well-settled law that, the possibility of reformation and rehabilitation of the convict is an important factor which has to be taken into account as a mitigating circumstance before sentencing him to death. There is a bounden duty cast on the Courts to elicit information of all the relevant factors and consider those regarding the possibility of reformation, even if the accused remains silent. A scrutiny of the judgments of the trial court, the High Court and this Court would indicate that, the sentence of death is imposed by taking into account the brutality of the crime. There is no reference to the possibility of reformation of the Petitioners, nor has the State procured any evidence to prove that there is no such possibility with respect to the Petitioners.

Present Court has examined the socio-economic background of the Petitioners, the absence of any criminal antecedents, affidavits filed by their family and community members with whom they continue to share emotional ties and the certificate issued by the Jail Superintendent on their conduct during their long incarceration of 14 years.

In facts of present case, it cannot be said that, there is no possibility of reformation of the Petitioners, foreclosing the alternative option of a lesser sentence and making the imposition of death sentence imperative. Therefore, the sentence imposed on the Petitioners is converted from death to life. However, keeping in mind the gruesome murder of the entire family of their sibling in a pre-planned manner without provocation due to a property dispute, the Petitioners deserve a sentence of a period of 30 years. Accordingly, the sentence of death imposed on the Petitioners is converted to life imprisonment for a period of 30 years. The Review Petition is disposed of.


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