Life term is rule, death penalty exception: SC
PTI Sep 10, 2013, 08.15PM IST

(“We may note that the rule…)

NEW DELHI: Life imprisonment is the rule and death penalty an exception and courts should also consider socio-economic compulsions such as poverty while awarding the extreme sentence to a convict, the Supreme Court on Tuesday held.

“Poverty, socio-economic, psychic compulsions, undeserved adversities in life are some of the mitigating factors which are also required to be considered, in addition to criteria laid down in its two landmark verdicts on death penalty,” the court said.

“We may note that the rule is life imprisonment for murder, and death is the exception for which special reasons are to be stated,” a bench of justices S J Mukhopadhaya and Kurian Joseph said.

The court, in its judgement, commuted the death sentence into life imprisonment of a man who was convicted for killing his wife and two sons.

It said that the condemned convict had intended to wipe out the whole family including himself on account of abject poverty and these aspects were not considered by the courts below while awarding him death sentence.

“It has come in evidence that the appellant suffered from economic and psychic compulsions. The possibility of reforming and rehabilitating the accused cannot be ruled out. The accused had no prior criminal record. On the facts available to the court, it can be safely said that the accused is not likely to be menace or threat or danger to society.

“There is nothing to show that he had any previous criminal background. The appellant had in fact intended to wipe out the whole family including himself on account of abject poverty,” the bench said