SC commutes death sentence on rape and murder convict to 25 years jail

New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday commuted the death sentence of a rape and murder convict from Madhya Pradesh and directed that he would undergo the life imprisonment of 25 years in actual.

Tattu Lodhi alias Pancham Lodhi was convicted and sentenced to death by a trial court for sexually assaulting a seven-year-old girl and then murdering her in 2011. The trial court verdict was upheld by the high court.

Holding that it was not a “rarest of rare” case so as to confirm the death sentence, a bench of Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice Abhey Mahohar Sapre said that Lodhi should undergo life imprisonment and would not be released till he completes actual imprisonment of 25 years.

“We are of the view that the appellant (Tattu Lodhi) should be inflicted with imprisonment for life with a further direction that he shall not be released from prison till he completes actual period of 25 years of imprisonment,” the court said in its judgment modifying the death sentence order passed by trial court and upheld by the High Court.

Referring to the evidence on record, the court said: “We find no good reason to interfere with the findings of the trial court duly confirmed by the High Court that the appellant-accused kidnapped the victim and after subjecting her to sexual abuse, throttled her to death.”

Noting that “we have no hesitation in confirming the conviction”, Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, pronouncing the judgment, said: “We are of the considered view that the facts of this case do not make out a ‘rarest of rare’ case so as to confirm the death sentence of the appellant. The death penalty is therefore not confirmed.”

While sending Lodhi to 25 years in jail, the court said: “Considering the fact that the deceased, a helpless child, fell victim of the crime of lust at the hands of the appellant and there may be probabilities of such crime being repeated in case the appellant is allowed to come out of the prison on completing usual period of imprisonment for life which is taken to be 14 years for certain purposes.”

Referring to the evidence on record including the post-mortem report, and other things, the court said: “We have confirmed the conviction as made by the trial court but we have no hesitation in indicating our disapproval of the error committed by the trial court in convicting the accused only for the attempted rape.”

“…there was no justification (for the trial court) not to hold the accused guilty of rape …” it said.

–IANS

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