Let accused speak before sentencing: SC to courts

 The Supreme Court has held that courts should give adequate opportunity to the accused to produce evidence in defence before awarding a sentence, particularly the capital punishment.

“Of course, full opportunity has to be given to produce adequate materials before the court and, if found necessary, [a] court may also give an opportunity to lead evidence... which has some relevance on the question of sentence and not on conviction. But the further question to be examined is whether, in the absence of any materials (evidence) by the accused, has the court any duty to elicit any information from whatever sources before awarding sentence, especially capital punishment,” a bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said.   

Courts must bear in mind the trauma which a convict could undergo on hearing that he would be awarded capital punishment, the bench said.

“Convict could be a completely shattered person, may not be in his normal senses, may be dumb-found, unable to speak anything. Can, in such a situation, the court presume that he has nothing to speak or mechanically record what he states, without making any conscious effort to elicit relevant information, which has some bearing in awarding a  proper and adequate sentence,” the court asked.

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