The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its judgement on a petition filed by B A Umesh, a former police constable, challenging the death penalty awarded to him for raping and murdering a widow in Peenya, Bengaluru, on February 28, 1998.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi concluded the hearing on the petition that challenged the procedure adopted for hearing review plea in death penalty cases.
Advocate Anita Shenoy, appearing for the Karnataka High Court’s registrar general, submitted that there was no mitigating factor in favour of the petitioner to save him from the death penalty upheld by the apex court in 2011.
“Even a single case of brutal murder is enough to award death penalty. The issue is whether such a person can be reformed. The fact that he has criminal propensity cannot be ignored. The petitioner, who faced 21 cases, had twice run away from custody,” she submitted.
“The petitioner had been convicted and awarded the capital punishment after the holistic approach adopted in following the due process of law. His mercy petition was also rejected,” she pointed out.
A five-judge Constitution bench by 4:1 had on February 9, 2014, had held that all the review petitions in case of death penalty should be heard in an open court as a matter of right of the condemned prisoners.
Bengaluru resident B A Umesh alias Umesh Reddy, whose review petition was dismissed in 2012, got a ray of hope with the verdict.
A former police constable, Reddy had gained notoriety for his sex crimes, reportedly raping women after their murders. He had filed the writ petition in the apex court on February 17, 2011. The court had then refused to show any leniency to the convict who had raped and smothered the victim after tying her hands behind. He was sentenced to death by the Karnataka High Court on February 18, 2009.
The petitioner, represented by senior advocate Kiran Suri, pleaded with the court to consider all relevant information at the stage of sentencing, including nature of crime, motive and impact of crime, culpability of the convict and quality of evidence adduced and the extent of reliance on circumstantial evidence.