SC reprieve for dentist from gallows

SC reprieve for dentist from gallows

A dentist sentenced to death for murdering two persons after injecting them with lethal doses has earned a temporary reprieve from gallows with the Supreme Court setting aside the capital punishment and directing the Bombay High Court to hear the convict afresh on the sentence.

A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra set aside the death penalty on the ground that the high court failed to hear convict Ajay Pandit alias Jagdish Dayabhai Patel on the quantum of sentence as required under Section 235(2)CrPC.

The high court had earlier converted to death sentence the life imprisonment imposed on Dayabhai for killing Nilesh Bhailal Patel and Jayashree in separate incidents in 1994 by administering them lethal injections after collecting huge money from them under the pretext of sending them to the US for better prospects.

Two other victims - Kaushikbhai and Jagdish, however, survived the injection and testified against him.

The high court took the view that the offence committed by Dayabhai was "rarest of rare" crime which deserved death penalty, but did not hear him on the quantum of sentence.

Under Section 235(2)CrPC, courts are bound to hear the convict on the question of imposing sentence so as to examine if there is any mitigating factor that could weigh in favour of the convicted person to give a lesser punishment.

"Psychological trauma which a convict undergoes on hearing that he would be awarded capital sentence, that is, death, has to be borne in mind, by the court.

"Convict could be a completely shattered person, may not be in his normal senses, may be dumbfound, 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," Justice Radhakrishnan writing the judgement said.

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