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  BACHAN SINGH VS STATE OF PUNJAB(1980)
PETITIONER:
BACHAN SINGH S/O SAUDAGAR SINGH

    Vs.

RESPONDENT:
STATE OF PUNJAB

DATE OF JUDGMENT04/05/1979

BENCH:
SHINGAL, P.N.
BENCH:
SHINGAL, P.N.
KRISHNAIYER, V.R.

CITATION:
 1980 AIR  267          

JUDGMENT:
     
     The following Judgments were delivered:
     SARKARIA, J.-While     reserving my  own  opinion  on     the
various question  raised in this case including the one with
regard    to  the     scope,     amplification    and  application  of
Section 354(3)    of the    Code of     Criminal Procedure, 1973, I
would, in agreement with my learned brother, direct that the
records of  this case  be submitted to the Hon'ble the Chief
Justice, for constituting a larger Bench which would resolve
the doubts,  difficulties and inconsistencies pointed out by
my learned  brother in    his order, particularly, in its last
paragraph.
     KAILASAM, J.-This    special leave  petition is  filed by
Bachan Singh  son of  Saudagar Singh  from jail     against the
conviction and    sentence imposed on him by the High Court of
Punjab and  Haryana. This  Court ordered notice to the State
and heard  the counsel    for the petitioner and the State and
granted special leave.
     The  appellant   was  tried   by  the  Sessions  Judge,
Ferozepur, on  three charges  of causing  the death of three
persons Desa  Singh the     son and  Durga Bai  and Veeran     Bai
daughter of  Hukam Singh  and causing  grievous injuries  to
Vidya Bai,  another daughter  of Hukam    Singh, at  about  12
midnight  between  the    4th  and  5th  July,  1977,  in     the
courtyard of  the house     of Hukam  Singh. The  learned Judge
found the  appellant guilty  of the  three charges  under s.
302, I.P.C.  and sentenced  him to  death on  each count. He
also found  him guilty    under s.  326, I.P.C.,    for  causing
grievous hurt  with a  sharp cutting weapon to Vidya Bai and
sentenced him  to three     years' rigorous  imprisonment and a
fine of     Rs. 500/-.  Against the  convictions and  sentences
passed the  appellant preferred     Criminal Appeal  No. 234 of
1978 to     the High Court. The appeal along with the Reference
No. 3  of 1978    made by     the trial Judge for confirmation of
sentence of death were heard together by the High Court. The
High Court rejected the appeal and confirmed the convictions
and sentences passed on the appellant.
     The case  for  the     prosecution  briefly  is  that     the
appellant Bachan Singh was convicted under s. 302 I.P.C. for
the murder of his wife
1197
and sentenced to imprisonment for life. After undergoing the
term of     imprisonment he  was released. After the release he
lived with  his cousin(?) Hukam Singh P. VV. 5 for about six
months. Hukam Singh's wife and son objected to the appellant
living in  their house.     A few    days prior to the occurrence
Hukam Singh and his wife went to Nainital in connection with
the marriage  of their    son Desa  Singh. On the night of the
occurrence 4th    July, 1977  Desa Singh    son of    Hukam Singh,
Durga Bai,  Veeran Bai    and Vidya Bai the daughters of Hukam
Singh were in the house. After taking their meals the, three
daughters slept     in the inner courtyard, Durgabai in one cot
and Veeran Bai and Vidya Bai in another cot near each other.
Desa Singh,  the son of Hukam Singh, and the appellant slept
in the outer courtyard on two separate cots near each other.
At about midnight Vidya Bai P.W. 2 was awakened by the alarm
and saw     the appellant    inflicting Kulhari (axe) blow on the
face of     her sister  Veeran Bai. When Vidya Bai tried to get
up the    appellant gave Kulhari blow on her face and ear. She
was unable  to speak  and fell unconscious. Diwan Singh P.W.
12 who was sleeping at a distance of 3/4 Karms from the cots
of Desa     Singh and  the appellant  also woke up on hearing a
shriek. He  saw the  appellant striking     Desa Singh  with  a
Kulhari. He  raised an    alarm and Gulab Singh P.W. 3 who was
sleeping at a distance of SO feet from the cot of Desa Singh
woke up and saw the appellant hitting Desa Singh on the neck
with a    Kulhari. On  an alarm  being raised by the witnesses
the appellant  threw the  Kulhari in  the courtyard and ran,
away. Gulab  Singh and    Diwan Singh  P.Ws. 3  and 12  gave a
chase to  the appellant     but could  not apprehend  him. Soon
after Kanshi Singh P.W. 4 and others arrived at the place of
occurrence and    heard from  the witnesses the detail, of the
occurrence.
     A tractor    was brought  in which  Durga Bai, Veeran Bai
and Vidya  were taken to the hospital at Fazilka. The Doctor
who examined the dead bodies and the injured person gave the
necessary certificates.     He also  sent    information  to     the
A.S.I. P.W.  13 who  went to,  the hospital and recorded the
statement from    P.W. 12 on the basis of which the F.I.R. was
recorded at  the police     station at  4-20 a.m.    On 5th July,
1977. The  police officer conducted the inquest and preceded
with his  investigation. The  courts below  found  that     the
medical evidence  fully corroborated  the testimony  of     the
injured eye-witness P.W. 2 and two other eye-witnesses P.Ws.
3 and  12 and found that the prosecution had established its
case beyond reasonable doubt.
     The trial    court and  the High Court on a consideration
of the    evidence found that P.W. 2 Vidya Bai the daughter of
Hukam Singh
1198
who was     sleeping along     with her  sisters in  the house and
suffered serious  injuries, saw     the attack by the appellant
when she  woke up.  There is  evidence that it was a moonlit
night and  there was sufficient light by which the assailant
would have  been identified.  The trial     court accepted     the
evidence of  P.W. 2.  The High    Court also  found  that     the
evidence of  P.W. 2  is trustworthy.  Both the    courts below
also relied  on the testimony of the other two eye-witnesses
P.Ws. 3     and 12.  P.W. 3  Gulab     Singh    was  sleeping  at  a
distance of 50 Karmas and got up after hearing the alarm and
rushed to  the scene.  P.W. 12 was sleeping at a distance of
15 feet     of Desa  Singh. The trial court as well as the High
Court accepted    the testimony  of the  two  eye-witnesses  S
P.Ws. 3     and 12.  On a    consideration of the evidence of the
eye-witnesses the  High Court  observed that  the  "evidence
provided by  the eye-witnesses    is of very high order in the
case and  was rightly  accepted by the learned trial Judge."
We have     no  hesitation     in  agreeing  with  the  concurrent
findings  of   the  courts   below  and      holding  that     the
prosecution has     proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the
appellant caused the death of the three deceased Desa Singh,
Durga Bai and Veeran Bai and grievous hurt to Vidya Bai P.W.
2.
     Regarding the  sentence, the  High Court  observed "The
objection by Desa Singh, his mother and other family members
was of    a triffing  nature on which the appellant acted in a
very cruel  manner. The victims had no cause to suspect' the
intentions of  the  appellant  and  went  to  sleep.  Taking
advantages of  the situation,  when the     victims  could     not
defend, the appellant killed three and seriously wounded the
fourth. It  was by  sheer luck    that Vidya Bai survived. The
manner in  which the  appellant perpetrated  these crimes by
killing these persons in their sleep is heinous. Under these
circumstances, the  case of  the appellant  for reduction of
the sentence  cannot be     considered  and  in  our  view     the
sentence awarded  by the  learned trial     Judge was  the only
appropriate sentence."
     The crime    is diabolic  and very  cruel. Hukam Singh, a
cousin, accommodated  the appellant in spite of the protests
of his    wife and  son. While enjoying the hospitality at the
dead of     night when  nobody had     any suspicion the appellant
committed in the most dastardly manner the crime. Desa Singh
was sleeping  in a  cot by  the side  of the  appellant. The
appellant at  the  dead     of  night  while  the    others    were
sleeping unsuspectedly    hacked three persons to death. It is
only providential that the third daughter Vidya Bai escaped.
The crime  in our  view is  one of the foulest that could be
imagined and  we are  in entire     agreement with     the  courts
below about their assessment of the gravity of the crime-the
only question for consideration is whether
1199
the facts  found would    be special  reasons for awarding the
death sentence    as required under sec. 354(3) of the Code of
Criminal Procedure 1973.
     Section 302  I.P.C. and  sub-sec. (3) of section 354 of
the Cr. P.G 1973 deal with the imposition of death sentence.
Section 302 I.P.C. provides:-
      "Whoever commits  murder shall  be  punished    with
     death, or    imprisonment for  life, and  shall  also  be
     liable to fine."
     Sub-sec. (3)  of sec. 354 of the Code of Cr. Procedure,
1973, enacts.
      "When the  conviction is for an offence punishable
     With death     or, in     the alternative,  with imprisonment
     for life  or imprisonment    for a  term  of     years,     the
     Judgment shall  state  the     reasons  for  the  sentence
     awarded, and,  in the  case of  sentence of  death, the
     special reasons for such sentence."
Before the amendment of sec. 367(S) Cr. P.C. by the Criminal
Procedure Code    (Amendment) Act,  1955 (Act  XXVI  of  1955)
which came  into force on 1st January, 1965, on a conviction
for an    offence punishable with death if the Court sentenced
the accused  to any  punishment other than death, the reason
why sentence of death was not passed had to be stated in the
judgment. Section  367(5) of  the Code of Criminal Procedure
before its amendment by Act 26 of 1955 provided that "if the
accused is  convicted of  an offence  punishable with death,
and the     Court sentences  him to  any punishment  other than
death, the  Court shall,  in its  judgment state the reasons
why sentence  of death was not passed." This sub-section was
construed before  the Amendment     Act,  Act  26    of  1955  as
meaning that the extreme sentence is the normal sentence and
the mitigated  sentence is  the exception. In Dalip Singh v.
State of  Punjab,(1) it     was held  that in a case of murder,
the death  sentence should  ordinarily be imposed unless the
trying Judge  for reasons  which should normally be recorded
considers it proper to award the lesser penalty. In Vadivelu
Thevar v.  The State  of Madras,(2) this Court expressed its
view that the question of sentence has to be determined, not
with reference    to the    volume or  character of the evidence
adduced by  the prosecution  in support     of the     prosecution
case, but  with reference  to the fact whether there are any
extenuating circumstances which can be said to mitigate
(1) A.I.R.1953 S.C.364
(2) A.I.R.1957 S.C.6I4.
1200
the enormity  of the  crime. If     the Court is satisfied that
there are  such mitigating,  circumstances,  only  then,  it
would be  justified  in     imposing  the    lesser    of  the     two
sentences provided  by law. These two cases were rendered in
relation  to   offences     which    were  committed     before     the
Criminal  Procedure  Code  Amendment  Act  26  of  1955     was
enacted. The  law therefore  prior to the amendment was that
unless there  are extenuating  circumstances the  punishment
for murder should be death and not imprisonment for life.
     By the Amendment Act 26 of 1955 a new sub-section, sub-
section (5),  was substituted for the former sub-section (S)
by Act    26 of  1955 which  does not  contain  the  provision
making it  incumbent for  a Judge  to record his reasons for
imposing a lesser penalty. After the amendment which omitted
the  provision     requiring  the     recording  of    reasons     for
imposing the  lesser penalty,  the  Court  is  not  under  a
statutory duty    to record  the reasons.     Still as the Courts
have to     impose one  of the  two penalties,  namely death or
imprisonment for  life, the  Courts will  have    to  exercise
their judicial    discretion in  deciding     which    of  the     two
penalties should  be imposed.  The result  is that after the
amendment though  the Court  is not  required to  record the
reasons for  imposing the  lesser penalty  it was  bound  to
exercise  its    discretion  judicially.     To  show  that     the
discretion has    been judicially exercised, reasons are given
for  imposing    the  particular      sentence.  This  makes  it
necessary for the court to give its reasons for imposing the
particular sentence though by the Amending Act the court was
not  required    to`  give   reasons  for  not  imposing     any
punishment other than death. The effect of the amendment has
been stated  by this  Court in    Raghubir Singh    v. State  of
U.P.,(')  that     after    the  amendment    of  section  367(S),
Criminal Procedure Code, by Act 26 of 1955 the discretion of
the court  in deciding    whether to  impose the    sentence  of
death or of imprisonment for life has become wider.
     By the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Act 2 of 1974)
subsection (3)    to section  354 was introduced regarding the
contents  of  the  judgment  relating  to  imposition  of  a
sentence of  death or  imprisonment for life or imprisonment
for a term of years.
     Sub-sec. (3)  which deals    with the  conviction for  an
offence punishable  with death    or in  the alternative    with
imprisonment for life or for a term of years in sentencing a
person on  conviction for  such an  offence the     judgment is
required to  state the    reasons for the sentence awarded and
in the    case of     sentence of  death the     special reasons for
such sentence.    When the  court in  its     discretion  imposes
either a sentence
(1) [1972] 3 S.C.C.79
1201
of death  or imprisonment for life or for imprisonment for a
term of     years, the  Court is required to record reasons for
imposing one  or the  other sentence  which it    can  legally
impose. As the Court has a discretion to award a sentence of
death or imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term of
years and  as the  discretion is  very wide the law requires
that reasons  shall be    stated for  awarding one or other of
the sentences.    In the    case of     an offence  under sec. 132,
I.P.C., the punishment provided for is death or imprisonment
for life  or imprisonment  for 10  years and fine. There are
other offences    like the  one under  s. 131  I.P.C. which is
punishable with imprisonment for life or imprisonment for 10
years and fine. Sections 121(a), 122, 125, 128, 130, 131 IPC
and  other   sections  provide     for   the   punishment      of
imprisonment for  life or  imprisonment for a term of years.
In such cases under s. 354(3) the Court is required to state
reasons why one or other of the sentences is imposed. In the
case of     offences  punishable  with  death  the     sub-section
requires that  special reasons    for imposing  such sentence,
should be  given. This requirement makes it clear that where
the punishment    provided for  is death    or imprisonment     for
life the  sentence that     should be imposed as of rule should
be one    cf imprisonment     for life.  But if the offence is of
such a    grave nature that the court thinks the higher of the
penalties, namely  the death  sentence,     should     be  imposed
special reasons     should be given. Thus while the legislature
retained the  imposition of death sentence it laid down that
if the    court awarded  the death  sentence it should Furnish
special reasons.  In Chapter 27 which relates to 'Judgments'
there are  other sections  which require that reasons should
be given for imposing or not imposing a particular sentence.
Sub-section (4)     to s. 354 requires that when the conviction
is for an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term of
one year  or more,  but the  Court  imposes  a    sentence  of
imprisonment for  a term of less than three months, it shall
record its  reasons for awarding such sentence. Such reasons
need not  be recorded if the sentence is one of imprisonment
till the  rising of  the court    or unless the case was tried
summarily under     the  provision     of  Cr.  P.C.    Section     361
requires that  when the     court could  have dealt with (a) an
accused person    under s.  360 or under the provisions of the
Probation of offenders Act, 1958, or (b) a youthful offender
under the  Children Act, 1960. Or any other law for the time
being in force for the treatment, training or rehabilitation
of youthful  offenders, but has not done so, it shall record
in its    judgment the special reasons for not having done so.
This section  also requires  special reasons  to be given if
the court  has not  dealt  1  with  the     accused  under     the
provisions mentioned  The object of requiring the reasons to
be given regarding the sentence could be
1202
found in  the Law  Commission's Report and the Report of the
Joint Parliamentary Committee. The Law Commission in Vol. I,
35th Report  on the  Capital  Punishment  expressed  that  a
considerable body  of opinion  is in  favour of     a provision
requiring tile    Court to  state its reasons for imposing the
punishment either  of death  or imprisonment  for life.     The
Commission was of the view that this would be a safeguard to
ensure that the lower courts examine the case as elaborately
from the point of view of sentence as from the point of view
of guilt and that it would provide good material at the time
when a    recommendation for  mercy is to be made by the court
or a  petition for  mercy is  considered and  that it  would
increase the  confidence of  the people in courts by showing
that the  discretion is     judicially exercised. It would also
facilitate  the      task    of   High  Court  in  appeal  or  in
proceedings for     confirmation in  respect  of  the  sentence
(where the  sentence  awarded  is  that     of  death),  or  in
proceedings in    revision for  enhancement  of  the  sentence
(where the  sentence awarded  is  one  of  imprisonment     for
life). In its 41st Report on the Cr. P.C. the Law Commission
recommending the  amendment also  observed that     there    were
certain offences  for which  the Penal    Code prescribes     the
punishment as  death or in the alternative life imprisonment
or imprisonment     for a    term  of  years     and  therefore     the
amendment recommended  should cover  these cases  also.     The
Joint Committee of Parliament added that a sentence of death
is the extreme penalty of law and it is but fair that when a
court awards,  that sentence in a case where the alternative
sentence of  imprisonment for  life is    also  available,  it
should give  special reasons in support of the sentence. For
giving effect  to the  recommendation of  the Law Commission
and the     Joint Committee  of Parliament     sub-section (3)  to
section 354  was amended in the present form. The object the
amendment therefore  is to  insist on  the lower  courts  to
examine the  case as  elaborately from    the point of view of
sentence as  from the  point cf     view of guilt and state its
reasons for  imposing the sentence which would help the High
Court  in   discharging     its   functions   particularly      in
confirming a  sentence of  death or  enhancing a sentence of
imprisonment for  life to  death.  This     object     is  further
sought to  be achieved    by the introduction of sub-section 2
to s.  235 which  provides an  opportunity  of    hearing     the
accused on the question of sentence. The provision requiring
special reasons     for awarding  death sentence  makes it also
clear that  the normal    sentence when punishment of death or
imprisonment for  life could be awarded is only imprisonment
for life  and if  the court imposes death sentence it should
give special reasons.
1203
     The development  of law  regarding     the  imposition  of
death sentence    call be     summarised as follows. While before
the Amending  Act 26  of  1955    was  introduced     the  normal
sentence for  an offence  of murder  was death    and that the
lesser sentence     is the exception, after the introduction of
sub-s.. (5)  to s.  367     by  Act  26  of  1955    it  was     not
obligatory for    the Court to state the reasons as to why the
sentence of  death was    not passed.  By     the  amendment     the
discretion of  the Court  in deciding  whether to  impose  a
sentence of death or imprisonment for life became wider. The
court was  bound to  exercise  its  judicial  discretion  in
awarding  one    or  the     other    of  the     sentences.  By     the
introduction of     s. 354(3) the normal sentence is the lesser
sentence of  imprisonment for  life and     if the     sentence of
death is  to be     awarded special  reasons will    have  to  be
recorded. In  other  words,  the  court     before     imposing  a
sentence of death should be satisfied that the offence is of
such a    nature that  the extreme  penalty is called for. The
decisions rendered  by this  Court after the introduction of
the amendment  to S.354(3)  by Act 2 of 1974 have reiterated
this position.    In Balwant  Singh v. State of Punjab(1) this
Court summing  up the position observed that under s. 354(3)
of the    Cr. P.C.,  1973, the  Court is required to state the
reasons for the sentence awarded and in the case of sentence
of death special reasons are required to be stated. It would
thus be noticed that awarding of the sentence other than the
sentence of  death is  the general rule now and only special
reasons, that  is to say, special facts and circumstances in
a  given  case,     will  warrant    the  passing  of  the  death
sentence. This    view was reiterated by this Court in Ambaram
v. The    State of  Madhya Pradesh.(2)  In  Sarveshwar  Prasad
Sharma v.  State of  Madhya Pradesh(3)    it was observed that
this Court has in several cases indicated guidelines in this
problem area  of life  and death  as a    result    of  judicial
verdict but  none of these guidelines can be cut and dry nor
exhaustive and    each case  will depend    upon the totality of
the facts and circumstances and other matters revealed.
     The  validity  of    imposition  of    death  sentence     was
challenged in  the ground  that the  sentence puts an end to
all Fundamental     Rights guaranteed  by clauses (a) to (g) of
sub-clause (1)    of Art. 19 of the Constitution and therefore
the law     with regard to capital sentence is unreasonable and
not in    the interest  of the  general public. It was further
contended that    the discretion    invested in  the  Judges  to
impose capital    punishment is  not based  on any standard or
policy required     by the     Legislature  for  imposing  capital
punishment in preference to
(1) [1976]2 S.C.R. 684
(2) [1976]4 S.C.C. 298
(3) [1978]1 S.C.R. 560
1204
imprisonment for  life. Further     it was     submitted that     the
uncontrolled and unguided discretion in the Judges to impose
capital punishment  or imprisonment  for life is hit by Art.
14 of  the Constitution.  Lastly, it  was contended that the
provisions of  the law    do not provide a procedure for trial
of factors  and circumstances  crucial for making the choice
between the  capital penalty  and imprisonment    for life and
therefore Art.    21 is violated. A Constitution Bench of this
Court in Jagmohan Singh v. The State of U.P.(') rejected all
these contentions.  It was held that the deprivation of life
is constitutionally permissible if that is done according to
procedure established by law and that it cannot be held that
capital sentence is per se unreasonable or not in the public
interest. It  was further  held that  the  impossibility  of
laying down  standards is  at the  very core of the criminal
law as administered in India which invests the Judges with a
very wide  discretion in  the matter of fixing the degree of
punishment. That  discretion in     the matter  cf sentence  is
liable to  be corrected     by superior Courts. The exercise of
judicial discretion on well-recognised principles is, in the
final: analysis,  the  safest  possible     safeguard  for     the
accused. The  challenge under  Art. 14 was also negatived on
the ground  that the  facts and circumstances of a crime are
widely different,  and, since  a decision  of the  court  as
regards punishment  is dependent upon a consideration of all
the facts  and circumstances, there is hardly any ground for
a challenge under Art. 14. The Court also negatived the plea
that the  provisions of     law do     not provide a procedure for
trial of  factors which     are crucial  for making  the choice
between the  capital penalty  and imprisonment for life. The
Court rejected all the challenges against the award of death
sentence on the ground of violation of the provisions of the
Constitution.  It   also  upheld   the    investment  of    wide
discretion in  the matter of fixing the degree of punishment
on the    Judges as  the exercise     of judicial  discretion  on
well-recognised principles  is the safest possible safeguard
for  the  accused.  The     Constitution  Bench  delivered     its
judgment on the 3rd October, 1972. Subsequently amendment to
the Code  of Criminal  Procedure, 1973, (Act 2 of 1974) came
into force  on 1st  April, 1974.  The only change by the new
Act is    the introduction  of s.     367  (S)  of  the  Criminal
Procedure Code which provides that the judgement shall state
the special reasons where a sentence of death is awarded for
an offence  punishable with death or in the alternative with
imprisonment for  life or  imprisonment for a term of years.
The requirement     that the  courts should  state the  special
reasons for  awarding the death sentence would indicate that
the normal  sentence for  an offence  punishable either with
death or with imprisonment for life is imprisonment for life
and that if the court considered
(1) [1973] 2 S C. R. 541
1205
that sentence  of death     is appropriate     on  the  particular
facts of the case It should give special reasons. Apart from
the emphasis  that the    normal sentence     is imprisonment for
life and  that special    reasons should be given for awarding
the death sentence there is no further alteration in the law
relating to  awarding  of  the    death  penalty.     As  already
noticed the  effect of    the amendment was considered by this
Court in  [1976] 2  S.C.R.: 684,  [1976] 4  S.C.C.  298     and
[1978] 1  S.C.R. 560  (supra)  and  it    was  held  that     the
awarding of sentence other than the sentence of death is the
general rule  now only    special reasons,  that    is  to    say,
special facts and circumstances in a given case will warrant
the passing of the death sentence.
     A recent  decision of this Court Rajendra Prasad's case
in Cr.    As. Nos.  512, 511  and 513 of 1978 was delivered on
9th February,  1979.(1) The  decision by  the  majority     was
delivered by  Krishna Iyer  J. held  that "special  reasons"
necessary for  imposing the death penalty must relate not to
the crime  as such but to the criminal. It further held that
death sentence    can be    awarded only  in certain  restricted
categories The    tests that  are prescribed  are to  find out
whether the  murderer holds  out a  terrible and  continuing
threat to  social security  in the  setting of    a developing
country and  poses a  grave peril to society's survival. The
other circumstances  which would justify imposition of death
sentence are  when an  economic offender intentionally mixes
poison in  drugs,  professionally  or  wilfully     adulterates
intoxicating  substances   injuriously,     and   knowingly  or
intentionally causes death for the sake of private profit or
when a    murderous band of armed dacoits intentionally derail
a train     and large  number of  people die  in consequence or
when the  style of  violence and  systematic corruption     and
deliberately planned  economic    offences  by  corporate     top
echelons  are  often  a     terrible  technology  of  knowingly
causing death.    Likewise when  a murderer is so hardened and
so blood-thirsty  that within  the prison  and    without,  he
makes  no  bones  about     killing  others  or  carries  on  a
prosperous business in cadavers, then he becomes a candidate
for death sentence.
     I have  read through  the judgment     of the     Court    with
utmost care.  The decision  is in  many respects contrary to
the law laid down by the Constitution Bench of this Court in
Jagmohan Singh's  case. The  Court has proceeded to make law
as regards  the conditions that are necessary for imposition
of a  sentence of death under s. 302 I.P.C. It has proceeded
to canalisation of sentencing discretion and has embarked on
evolving working  rules on  punishment bearing    in mind     the
enlightened flexibility of social sensibility. In doing so I
feel the  court has  exceeded its  powers conferred on it by
law.
     (1) [1979] 3 S.C.R 78
1206
     To substantiate  my statement,  I proceed to give a few
extracts from the judgment. At the outset of the judgment it
is  stated  that  the  precise    issue  before  it  was    "the
canalisation of     the sentencing     discretion in    a  competing
situation.. ...Therefore  this jurisprudential    exploration,
within    the   framework     of   s.  302    I.P.C.,     has  become
necessitous, both  because the    awesome 'either/or'  of     the
Section spells    out no    specific indicators  and law in this
fatal area  cannot afford to be conjectural".. "The flame of
life cannot  flicker uncertain; and so s. 302 I.P.C. must be
invested  with     pragmatic  concreteness  that    inhibits  ad
hominem responses  of individual  judges  and  is  in  penal
conformance with constitutional norms and world conscience."
"Within the  dichotomous frame-work of s. 302 I.P.C., upheld
in Jagmohan  Singh, we    have  to  evolve  working  rules  of
punishment bearing  the markings  of enlightened flexibility
and societal  sensibility.".......... "Therefore,  it is  no
heresay to  imbibe and    inject the  social philosophy of the
Constitution into  the Penal  Code to  resolve    the  tension
between the  Past and  the Present."..... "That is the essay
we undertake  here". "But  if legislative undertaking is not
in sight  judges who  have to implement the code cannot fold
up their  professional hands  but must    make  the  provision
viable by  evolution of supplementary principles, even if it
may appear  to possess    the flavour of law-making".. . "This
Court's tryst with the Constitution obligates it to lay down
general rules,    not a  complete directory,  which will    lend
predictability to  the law vis-a-vis the community and guide
the judiciary  in such a grim verdict as choice between life
and death."........ "Therefore, until Parliament speaks, the
court cannot be silent."........ "This Court must extricate,
until Parliament  legislates, the death sentence sector from
judicial  subjectivism    and  consequent     uncertainty."......
"Having stated    the area  and  object  of  investigation  we
address ourselves  to this grave penological issue purely as
judges deciding     a legal  problem,  putting  aside  vie     vs,
philosophical or criminological, one holds. But law, in this
area, cannot  go  it  alone;  and  cross-fertilisation    from
sociology,  history,   cultural     anthropology    and  current
national perils     and  developmental  goals  and,  above     all
constitutional currents, cannot be eschewed."
     The above    are few     of the     passages in the "prolix and
diffuse" judgment  as the  learned Judge  has chosen to call
it. The     passages clearly  indicate that  the Court  in     the
absence of  legislative     undertaking  has  embarked  on     law
making as  in its  view the  Judges  cannot  fold  up  their
professional hands  but must  make the    provision viable  by
evolution of supplementary principles, even if it may appear
to  possess  the  flavour  of  law-making,  and     that  until
Parliament speaks the Court
1207
cannot be silent. With utmost respect I feel that the courts
have no     such power to legislate and to frame rules to guide
the infliction of death penalty.
     The duty  of  the    court  so  far    as  enacted  law  is
concerned, is  to interpret  and construe  the provisions of
the enactment.    By interpretation  or construction  is meant
the process  by which  the  courts  seek  to  ascertain     the
meaning     of  the  legislature  through    the  medium  of     the
authoritative forms  in which  it is  expressed. The  courts
must take it absolutely for granted that the legislature has
said what  is meant  alld meant what it has said. Judges are
not at liberty to add or to take FRS or modify the letter of
the law     simply because     they have  Cr reason to believe the
true sentence legis is not completely or correctly expressed
by it.    (Salmod on  Jurisprudence,  11th  Ed.  by  Glanville
Williams, p.  153). The Constitution and the laws bind every
court in  India and  that though  the  courts  are  free  to
interpret they    are not     free to  overlook or  disregard the
Constitution and  the laws.  As held  in  Young     v.  Bristol
Aeroplane Co. Ltd.(l) the Court is not entitled to disregard
the statutory provisions and to follow a decision of its own
when that provision was not present in its mind.
     It is equally beyond the functions of a Court to evolve
working rules  for imposition  of death sentence bearing the
markings of  enlightened flexibility  and social sensibility
or to  make  law  by  cross  fertilisation  from  sociology,
history, cultural  anthropology and  current national perils
and  developmental  goals  and,     above    all,  constitutional
currents. I  am of  the view  that it is the function of the
Parliament to  frame laws  consistent with  the needs of the
society. If the grounds for award of a sentence of death has
to be  more specifically stated than that it is found in the
Indian Penal Code and the Cr. P.C., it is for the Parliament
to do  so. Various  legislative measures were introduced but
were withdrawn from time to time. At present there is a Bill
before the  Parliament. It  is for the Parliament to clarify
the circumstances  under which    a sentence of death could be
awarded. It  is for  the court    to administer  the law as it
stands. In awarding sentence of death, the Court has to take
into consideration  the various     aspects regarding the crime
and  the  person  that    committed  the    crime  and  pass  an
appropriate sentence  and if  it is  death sentence  to give
special reasons as required by the Cr. P.C. If in deciding a
case on     particular facts  a principle    is stated  it may be
binding as  a precedent. If the Courts resort to rule making
it will     not be     binding as  precedent. If the Courts are to
embark on rule making the question arises whether
     [1] [1947] 1 K.B.718,
1208
the responsibility  can be undertaken by a bench of 3 Judges
with a    majority of  2 to  1. Is  it permissible for another
bench to  proceed to  make laws     and prescribe    an  entirely
different sets of rules ? There is no machinery by which the
Court  could  ascertain     the  views  of     the  various  cross
sections of  the society  which is a prerequisite before any
law making is resorted to.
     The Court    has embarked  on framing  rules     prescribing
conditions for    imposition of  death  sentence    taking    into
account     "cross-fertilisation    from   sociology,   history,
cultural  anthropology     and  current  national     perils     and
developmental    goals,     and   above   all,   constitutional
currents". So  far as  constitutional currents are concerned
the Constitution  Bench has  upheld the validity of awarding
of the    death sentence. The Court has proceeded on the basis
that the  earlier decisions  of this  Court have  taken into
account only  the crime     and not  the criminal. The emphasis
according to  the judgment should be on the criminal and not
on the    crime. The  mode of  sentencing as  envisaged in the
Penal Code and the Cr. P.C. requires that every fact that is
relevant to  the determination of the sentence including the
crime, the  criminal and  other environmental  circumstances
will have  to be taken into account. The view of the learned
Judge that  in awarding     a sentence  the  criminal  is    more
important than    the crime  is not warranted by the law as it
stands today.
     I will  now refer    to various  points dealt with in the
judgment  which      are  contrary      to  the  decision  of     the
constitutional Bench.
     Justice Krishna  Iyer says:  "The    main  focus  of     our
judgment  is   on  this      poignant  gap      in  'human  rights
jurisprudence'    within     the  limits   of  the    Penal  Code,
impregnated by    the Constitution. To put it pithily, a world
order voicing  the worth  of the  human person,     a  cultural
legacy charged with compassion, an interpretative liberation
from colonial callousness lo life and liberty, a concern for
social justice    as setting the sights of individual justice,
interest with  the inherited text of the Penal Code to yield
the goals  desiderated by  the Preamble     and Articles 14, 19
and 21." The challenge to the award of the death sentence as
violative of  Articles 19,  14 and  21 was  repelled by     the
Constitution Bench  by holding    that the death sentence is a
permissible punishment    and  that  deprivation    of  life  is
constitutionally  permissible    if  that   is  according  to
procedure  established     by  law.   Regarding  laying    down
standards in imposing the punishment the Court observed that
the impossibility  of laying  down standards  is at the very
core of     criminal law as administered in India which invests
the Judges  with a  very wide  diseretion in  the matter  of
fixing the degree of punishment and that
1209
this discretion     in the     matter of  sentence is liable to be
corrected by  superior Courts. It was held that the exercise
of judicial  discretion on  well recognised principles is in
the final  analysis, the  safest possible  safeguard for the
accused.  Justice   Krishna  Iyer   would  comment   on     the
observations of     the  Constitution  Bench  above  quoted  as
follows:  "The     acceptance  of      the    invulnerability      of
discretionary  power   does  not   end    the`   journey:      it
inaugurates   the    search   for   those   `well-recognised
principles' Palekar,  J. speaks     of in    the  Jagmohan  case.
Incidental  observations   without  concentration   on     the
sentencing criteria  are not  the  ratio  of  the  decision.
Judgments are  not Bible  for every  line to  be venerated,"
with respect  I am unable to agree with the characterization
of Palekar  J's judgment as "incidental observations without
concentration on  the sentencing criteria". At p. 559 of the
Reports Palekar     J. Observes:  In India this onerous duty is
cast upon  Judges and for more than a century the judges are
carrying out  this duty     under the  Indian Penal  Code.     The
impossibility of  laying down  standards is at the very core
of the    criminal law  as administered in India which invests
the Judges  with a  very wide  discretion in  the matter  of
fixing the  degree of  punishment.  That  discretion  m     the
matter of  sentence is, as already pointed out, liable to be
corrected by  superior courts.    Laying down  of standards to
the limited  extent  possible  as  was    done  in  the  Model
Judicial  Code     would    not   serve  the   purpose."   After
disapproving laying  down of  standards     the  learned  Judge
proceeded "The    exercise of  judicial  discretion  on  well-
recognised, principles is, in the final analysis, the safest
possible safeguard for the accused." (Emphasis supplied) The
learned Judge quoted with approval the view of this Court in
Budhan Chowdhary v. State of Bihar(1) which is as follows:-
      "The judicial decision must of necessity depend on
     the facts and circumstances of each particular case and
     what  may     superficially    appear     to  be     an  unequal
     application of  the law may not necessarily amount to a
     denial of    equal protection unless there is shown to be
     present in     it an element of intentional and purposeful
     discrimination.-Further,  the  discretion    of  judicial
     officers is  not arbitrary     and the  law pro  vides for
     revision by  superior courts  of orders  passed by     the
     subordinate courts.  In such  circumstances,  there  is
     hardly  any  ground  for  apprehending  any  capricious
     discrimination by judicial tribunals."
     Palekar, J.  continued "Crime as crime may appear to be
superficially the  same but the facts and circumstances of a
crime are widely
(1) [1955] S. C. R. 1045
21-409SCI/79
1210
different and  since a    decision of  the  court     as  regards
punishment is  dependent upon  a consideration    of  all     the
facts, and  circumstances, there  is hardly  any ground     for
challenge under     Article 14."  At page    560 of    the reports,
Palekar, J,  explains the  procedure that is followed by the
Courts    which    enables     to   bring  into   focus  all     the
circumstances that  are relevant to be taken into account in
awarding the  sentence. On  a reading of the judgment of the
Constitution Bench  I regard  my inability to share the view
of  Krishna  Iyer  J.  that  Palekar  J's  observations     are
incidental and    without concentration.    It may be noted that
the laying  down of  the standards  which was  deprecated is
being attempted in this decision.
     Krishna Iyer  J. would  state "It    is  constitutionally
permissible to    swing a     criminal out of corporeal existence
only if     the security of State and society, public order and
the interests  of the  general public  compel that course as
provided  in   Art.  19(2)  to    (6)".  This  view  again  is
inconsistent with  the law  laid down  by  the    Constitution
Bench  which   has  held   that     deprivation   of  life      is
constitutionally permissible  if that  is done    according to
procedure established  by law.    Krishna Iyer J. has observed
that "no  Code can rise higher than the Constitution and the
Penal Code can survive only if it pays homage to the suprema
lex. The only correct approach is to read into s. 302 I.P.C.
and s. 354(3) Cr. P.C., the human rights and human trends in
the Constitution.  So examined,     the right  to life  and  to
fundamental freedoms is deprived when he is hanged to death,
his  dignity   is  defiled  when  his  neck  is     noosed     and
strangled," the     only change  after the     Constitution  Bench
delivered its  judgment is  the introduction  of  s.  354(3)
which requires    special reasons     to be given if the court is
to award  the death  sentence. If without the restriction of
stating     sufficient   reasons  death   sentence      could      be
constitutionally awarded under the I.P.C. and Cr. P.C. as it
stood before  the amendment, it is difficult to perceive how
by requiring special reasons to be given the amended section
would be  unconstitutional unless  the "sentencing sector is
made most  restrictive and least vagarious". Krishna lyer J.
has  held   that  "such      extra      ordinary   grounds   alone
constitutionally qualify  as 'special  reasons' as  leave no
option to the court but to execute the offender if State and
society     are   to  survive.  One  stroke  of  murder  hardly
qualifies for this drastic requirement, however gruesome the
killing or  pathetic  the  situation,  unless  the  inherent
testimony oozing  from that  act is  irresistible  that     the
murderous appetite of the convict is too chronic arid deadly
that ordered  life in  a given    locality or  society  or  in
prison itself would be gone if this man were now or later to
be at  large. If  he is     an irredeemable  murderer,  like  a
blood-thirsty  tiger,    he  has      to  quit  his     terrestrial
tenancy." The Constitution Bench dealing with the
1211
award of  death sentence  observed. "But  some at  least are
diabolical in  conception and  cruel in     execution. In    some
others where  the victim is a person of high standing in the
country,  society  is  liable  to  be  rocked  to  its    very
foundation. Such  murders cannot  be simply  wished away  by
finding alibis in the social mal-adjustment of the murderer.
Prevalence of  such crimes  speaks, in    the opinion of many,
for the     inevitability of  death penalty  not only by way of
deterrence but    as a  token of    emphatic disapproval  by the
society." After referring to the Law Commission's Report the
Court observed:     "A very  responsible body  has come  to the
conclusion after  considering all  the relevant     factors. On
the conclusions     thus offered to us, it will be difficult to
hold that  capital punishment as such is unreasonable or not
required in  the public     interest." I  find it    difficult to
reconcile the  law stated by the Constitution Bench with the
view expressed by Krishna Iyer J.
     The judgment delivered by Krishna Iyer J. for the Court
and the minority judgment of Justice A. P. Sen have dealt at
considerable length with various aspects and desirability or
otherwise of  imposing a sentence of death. Tile controversy
over capital  punishment is  not new.  For several centuries
the debate  is going  on. I am conscious that it is a highly
controversial subject  on which     much can  be said  on    both
sides. Fortunately,  for the  Judges it is neither necessary
nor desirable to subscribe to one of the two views. All that
the Judges are expected to do is to administer the law as it
stands. In  fact, if  I am  strong believer  of abolition of
death sentence    or supporter  of 'life fol. life' and 'tooth
for  tooth'  doctrine  I  would     have  excused    myself    from
deciding a case involving confirmation of death sentence.
     Justice Krishna  Iyer has    not concealed his abhorrence
at the    infliction of  death sentence.    He pleads that death
sentence should     be abolished.    He has expressed his view in
unmistakable terms:  "Every sombre  dawn a  human  being  is
hanged by the legal process, the flag of human justice shall
be  hung  half-mast".  Again  "The  right  to  life  and  to
fundamental freedoms is deprived when he is hanged to death,
his  dignity   is  defiled  when  his  neck  is     noosed     and
strangled". ...."The Indian cultural current also counts and
so does     our  spiritual     chemistry,  based  on    divinity  in
everyone, catalysed  by the Budha-Gandhi compassion".. "This
axiom is  a vote against 'death' and hope in 'life'." I have
great respect  for the    views of  the learned  Judge. He  is
strongly espousing  a cause but I feel embarrassed when I am
required to  follow his views for I consider it is my solemn
duty to     administer the     law  of  the  land  as     it  stands.
According to  my conception my duty is to administer the law
as it  stands. It  is not  for me lo say what the law should
be. If I am satisfied that the trial Judge and the
1212
High Court  have given special reasons as required under the
law it    is my  duty to    confirm the  sentence of death. Vide
observations of     this Court  in Ram Narain and ors. v. State
of U.P.(1) quoted with approval in Jagmohan's case.
     I do  not feel  it necessary  to refer  to the  various
points dealt With by Krishna Iyer J. in his long and learned
'essay'. I have quoted in extenso from his judgment and also
from the judgment of the Constitution Bench in order to show
that the two views are irreconcilable and that I am bound to
follow the  law laid  down by  the Constitution     Bench. With
respect I  find myself    in complete agreement with the views
expressed by  the Constitution    Bench. I am therefore unable
to follow the decision of the Bench.
     I have  discussed the  general principles    laid down in
Rajendra Prasad's  case regarding the circumstances that are
necessary for  the imposition  of the  death sentence. Apart
from being unable to agree with the guidelines prescribed, I
am of the view that the general principles laid down are not
the ratio decidendi of the case. The courts are not bound to
follow them.  Halsbury's Laws of England (3rd Ed. Vol. 22 at
p. 796) explains what ratio decidendi is. The enunciation of
the reason  or principle  on which a question before a court
has been  decided is  alone  binding  as  a  precedent.     The
concrete decision  alone is  binding between  the parties to
it, but it is the abstract ratio decidendi, ascertained on a
consideration of  the judgment    in relation  to the  subject
matter of the decision, which alone has the force of law and
which, when  it is clear what it was, is binding. Statements
which are not necessary to the decision, which go beyond the
occasion and  lay down    a rule    that is     unnecessary for the
purpose in  hand have no binding authority on another court,
though    they  may  have     some  merely  persuasive  efficacy.
Decisions upon    matters of fact are not binding on any other
court. This  Court has    held that precedents which enunciate
rules of  law  form  the  foundation  of  administration  of
justice under  our system.  (Tribhuvandas v. Ratilal).(2) It
has also  been    held  in  Amritsar  Municipality  v.  Hazara
Singh(3) that  the decisions  of even  the highest  court on
questions of  fact  cannot  be    cited  as  precedents.    Lord
Halsbury in  Quinn v.  Leathem(4) said    that every  judgment
must be     read as  applicable to the particular facts proved,
or assumed  to    be  proved,  since  the     generality  of     the
expressions which  may be found there are not intended to be
expositions of    the whole law, but governed and qualified by
the particular facts of the case in
(1) A. I. R. 1971 S. C. 757.
(2) A.I.R. 1968 S. C. 372=70 Bom. L. R. 73.
(3) A. 1. R. 1975 S. C. 1087
(4) 1901 A. . 495. at p. 506
1213
which such  expressions arc  to be  found. The learned Judge
proceeds To  observe "....a  case is  only an  authority for
what it     actually decides.  I entirely    deny that  it can be
quoted for  a proposition  that may seem to follow logically
from it.  The courts  are not  bound by     the observations in
decisions beyond  the point actually decided. The courts can
say "We cannot know that the House of Lords would carry this
determination further  than they have carried it". (per Best
C.J. in Fletcher v. Lord Sondes.(l)
     Applying  the  principles    above  quoted,    I  will     now
proceed to  find out what are the points decided in the case
and to what extent it will be binding on courts. In Rajendra
Prasad's case  the three  appeals in  which death  sentences
were imposed  came up  before the Court for consideration of
the question  whether the  death sentence  awarded should be
confirmed or  not. After  appreciation of  the facts  of the
case the  Court came  to the  unanimous conclusion  that the
concerned accused  have been  found guilty of the offence of
murder    and   confirmed     the   conviction.   Regarding     the
imposition of  the death  sentence the    majority was  of the
view that  there were no sufficient reasons for imposing the
extreme     penalty  while     the  minority    differed  from    that
conclusion. The principle that can be derived in the case is
that on     the facts and circumstances established in the case
there are  not 'sufficient  reasons' for  imposing the death
sentence. Only    to this     limited extent     if at    all  is     the
decision binding  on the courts. It is common knowledge that
the facts  are rarely  similar in two cases. The root of the
doctrine of  precedent is  that alike  cases must be decided
alike. Only  then it  is possible  to ensure  that the court
bound by  a previous  case decides  the new case in the same
way as    the other  court would    have decided it. It is all a
question of  probabilities, but the probability that a court
will decide  a new  case in  the same way as would the court
which decided  one of  the cases cited becomes less and less
as the    differences between  the  facts     of  the  two  cases
increase.
     As every judgment will have to be read as applicable to
the particular facts proved will refer to the facts found in
Rajendra Prasad's  case. The  accused in  Rajendra  Prasad's
case a    youngman after    some years  served  in    prison,     was
released on  Gandhi Jayanti Day. Some minor incident ignited
his latent  feud and  he stabbed Ram Bharosey and his friend
Mansukh several     times and  the     latter     succumbed.  He     was
sentenced to death by the Sessions Court which was confirmed
by the    High Court.  This Court applying the canons which it
had laid  down came  to the  conclusion that  as nothing  on
record suggested  that Rajendra Prasad was beyond redemption
and the record does not
(1) [1826] 3 Bing. 501 at p. 560
1214
hint that  such an  attempt was     made inside the prison they
did not     see any special reason to hang him out of corporeal
existence. As  pointed out  earlier I am unable to subscribe
to the    canons laid  down in  the case.     The utmost to which
this case  can be  considered as  an authority is that if in
similar circumstances  when  a    person's  latent  feud    gets
ignited and  stabs two    persons several     times it  would not
furnish special     reasons for inflicting the extreme penalty.
In the second case relating to Kunjukunju the accused cut to
death the  innocent wife  and the  immaculate  kids  in     the
secrecy of  night. The trial court as well as the High Court
found it  was a     deliberate and     cold blooded  act performed
with considerable  brutality.  The  majority  expressed     its
opinion that  if the  crime  alone  was     the  criterion     the
sentence was  proper but  if the  criminal was the target it
was not     proper. The  Cr. P.C.    requires the  courts to take
into account  the  circumstances  in  which  the  crime     was
committed,  the     particulars  about  the  criminal  and     all
relevant circumstances    relating to  the commission  of     the
crime by  the criminal.     The trial court is required to give
reasons and  they are to be scrutinised by the High Court on
a reference  to it  for confirmation  of the death sentence.
The High  Court also  has to  satisfy itself  that there arc
special reasons for inflicting the extreme penalty. The view
of the    majority that  the test should be whether Janardanan
is a  social security  risk, altogether     beyond     salvage  by
therapeutic life  sentence is neither in accordance with the
requirements of the Cr.P.C. nor law laid down by this Court.
The  decisions     of  this   Court  insist   not     only  on  a
consideration of  the criminal    but also  the nature  of the
crime and  all other  relevant circumstances.  As  the    view
expressed  in  the  case  is  not  in  conformity  with     the
decisions  of    this  court  it     cannot     be  followed  as  a
precedent.  At    the  most  the    decision  may  be  taken  as
authority that in similar circumstances the cutting to death
of the    innocent wife and the immaculate kids in the secrecy
of the    night may  not amount to special reasons as required
under the  Cr.P.C. In  the third  appeal the appellant flung
the vessels  over the  division of  which the wrangle arose,
went  inside   the  house,  emerged  armed,  picked  up     all
altercation eventuating     the young man (whose age was around
18 or  20) stabbing  to death  three members  of  the  other
branch of  the family.    He chased and killed, excited by the
perverted sense     of injustice at the partition. The majority
was of    the  view  that     it  is     illegal  to  award  capital
punishment    without      considering     the    correctional
possibilities inside  the prison.  The court was of the view
that although  the crime  was  attended     with  extraordinary
cruelty, the accused being young and malleable are and their
reasonable  prospect  of  reformation  and  absence  of     any
conclusive circumstance that the assailant is a habitual
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murderer  or  given  to     chronic  violence-these  catena  of
circumstances bearing  on the  offender call  for the lesser
sentence. Here    again it is difficult to agree with the test
applied for  it is  not in  conformity with the decisions of
this Court  or the requirements of the law. If at all it may
be  an     authority  only  for  the  proposition     that  under
identical circumstances     the stabbing  of three persons by a
young man  in an  altercation  when  he     was  excited  by  a
perverted sense     of injustice  would not  be special reasons
for awarding the extreme penalty.
     In the  case before us the facts are not identical with
any of    the cases in the appeals. The appellant was released
after undergoing  a term  of imprisonment  for the murder of
his wife. After release he lived with his cousin Hukam Singh
for about  six months.    The wife  and son  objected. On     the
night of the occurrence when he was sleeping with Desa Singh
son  of     Hukam    Singh  in  the    outer  courtyard  and  three
daughters of  Hukam Singh  in the  inner courtyard  at about
midnight the  petitioner got up, inflicted fatal injuries on
the son     Desa Singh  and the  two daughters  Durga  Bai     and
Veeran Bai  and caused    grievous injuries to Vidya Bai while
they were  sleeping. 'the  trial court    as well     as the High
Court on  a consideration  of the entire facts regarding the
crime and  the criminal     came to  the  conclusion  that     the
appellant acted     in a  very cruel manner. The victims had no
cause to  suspect the  intentions of the petitioner and went
to sleep.  Taking  advantage  of  the  situation,  when     the
victims could  not defend,  the appellant  killed three     and
seriously wounded  the    fourth.     The  courts  below  rightly
characterised  the   offence   as   heinous   and   in     the
circumstances of  the case  they were  of the  view that the
only appropriate  sentence is the extreme penalty. I have no
hesitation in  agreeing with  that conclusion.    The facts of
the case  may have  some resemblance  to Kunjukunju  case in
that the  accused in that case cut his innocent wife and the
kids  under   the  secrecy  of    the  night.  But  the  other
circumstances namely  his  cold     calculated  and  deliberate
murder of  innocent children  of Hukam    Singh who  had given
shelter to  him when  they were     sleeping discloses that the
crime is  an extremely    brutal and  heinous one     calling for
imposition of  death-sentence I     agree with  the trial Court
and the     High Court  and find 'special reasons' required for
imposition of death has been clearly made out.
     In the  result I  find myself  unable to agree with the
reasoning or conclusion arrived at by this Court in Rajendra
Prasad's case  mainly on  the  ground  that  it     is  not  in
conformity with the decision of the
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Constitutional Bench  of this  Court in     Jagmohan's case and
that  the   propositions  laid     down  are  not     within     the
competence of  the Court.  Though  the    decision  cannot  be
treated as  a binding precedent yet as it is a decision of a
bench of  this Court  I direct    the matter  be placed before
Hon'ble the Chief Justice for constituting a larger bench to
decide the case







   



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