The Supreme Court Friday commuted the death sentence awarded to a man for the rape and murder of a widow in 1998, noting he was in solitary confinement in jail for about 10 years.
The top court said the incarceration of the convict in solitary confinement showed ill effects on his well-being.
The apex court was hearing a plea filed by B A Umesh who was involved in the rape and murder of a widow in Bengaluru in 1998.
"In the instant case, the death sentence was awarded to the appellant in 2006 by the trial court and the mercy petition was finally disposed of by the President on May 12, 2013, which means that the incarceration of the appellant in solitary confinement and segregation from 2006 to 2013 was without the sanction of law and completely opposed to the principles laid down by this court
"In the instant case, the period of solitary confinement is for about 10 years and has two elements: one, from 2006 till the disposal of the mercy petition in 2013; and secondly from the date of such disposal till 2016," a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice U U Lalit said.
The top court said the ends of justice would be met if the death sentence awarded to the appellant is commuted.
"The incarceration in solitary confinement thus did show ill effects on the well-being of the appellant. In the backdrop of these features of the matter, in our view, the appellant is entitled to have the death sentence imposed upon him to be commuted to life.
"We impose upon him the sentence of life imprisonment with a rider that he shall undergo a minimum sentence of 30 years and if any application for remission is moved on his behalf, the same shall be considered on its own merits only after he has undergone the actual sentence of 30 years," the bench also comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and P S Narasimha said.
On the ground of delay in deciding the appeal of the convict, the apex court said the time taken by each of these authorities and the functionaries cannot be termed as "inordinate delay" and secondly it was not as if every passing day was adding to the agony of the appellant.
-With PTI Input