Supreme Court orders on the death sentence to Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab and rapist security guard Dhananjoy Chatterjee, among others, were referred to when a fast-track court in Delhi viewed the December 16 gang-rape case in the “rarest of rare” category and sentenced the four convicts to death.
The prosecution argued that looking at the crime committed by the convicts, they should be awarded the maximum penalty of death. On the other hand, defence raised several issues and referred to the convicts’ young age, socio-economic status, clean antecedents and reformative approach.
Delivering his 20-page order, Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna said the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the young age of the accused is not a determinative factor by itself against the award of the death sentence. “Rather, all the circumstances need to be taken together and proper weightage to be given to each circumstance,” said Khanna.
He highlighted that the Supreme Court reconfirmed the death sentence in several cases despite the young age of the convicts — Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab (2012), Atbir (2010), Vikram Singh (2010), Shivu (2007), Jai Kumar (1999) and Dhananjoy Chatterjee (1994). “Similarly, the socio-economic status of the convict or the convict being under intoxication cannot be determinative factors,” added the judge.
The court further referred to contents of Krishnappa’s case against the State of Karnataka (2000), in which the Supreme Court had held that “the reasons that the accused, an unsophisticated and illiterate citizen, belongs to the weaker section of the society; that he was a chronic addict to drinking and had committed rape of a girl in a state of 'intoxication' and that his family is comprised of an old mother, wife and children dependant upon him. These reasons are neither special nor adequate.”
The order stressed that the measure of punishment in the wake of rape cannot depend upon the social status of the convicts or the accused. “It must depend upon the conduct of the accused, the state and age of the sexually assaulted female and the gravity of the criminal act,” the apex court had said.