19 years after death penalty, SC finds man as juvenile

The Supreme Court on Thursday found that a man, whose death penalty was upheld 19 years ago, was a minor aged 12 years and six months old when he killed seven persons of a businessman's family and robbed their house in Pune in 1994.

The Supreme Court on Thursday found that a man, whose death penalty was upheld 19 years ago, was a minor aged 12 years and six months old when he killed seven persons of a businessman's family and robbed their house in Pune in 1994.

A bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna noted that the inquiry report submitted by Pune District and Sessions Judge stated that the convict was a juvenile at the time of the incident on August 24, 1994.

“Capital punishment can never be imposed on a juvenile. However, the issue of whether the petitioner was a child on the date of the alleged offence has to be finally decided,” the bench said.

The report has come after a three-judge bench led by Justice N V Ramana had ordered a decision on the issue, since the convict, Narayan Chetanram Chaudhary sought a declaration under Section 9(2) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 that he was a juvenile at the time of commission of offence.

His plea was made since the apex court has asked for a review of all death penalty cases, following the apex court's five-judge bench judgement in Mohd Arif Vs Registrar of SC (2014) to grant oral hearing in such cases.

On Thursday, the court granted seven-day parole to the convict for performing last rites of his father, in Bikaner district of Rajasthan.

Narayan's father had passed away on May 10.

The court fixed for hearing on July 2 the matter related to re-opening of his review petition, which was initially dismissed on November 24, 2000.

The top court had on September 5, 2000, upheld the death penalty awarded to Narayan and Jitendra alias Jitu Nayansingh Gehlot. Another co-accused, Raju had turned approver in the case.

It was proved that the trio had murdered five innocent women, one of whom was pregnant, and two children of one-and-a-half years and two-and-a-half years of age.

All the women and children were killed one-by-one by Narayan, who inflicted numerous knife blows on them. They committed the murders to wipe out evidence of robbery, as one of the accused, Raju, had worked in a sweet mart owned by the victim's family and was known to them.

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