Raju v. State of Haryana , AIR 2001 SC 2043
Facts : It was the prosecution case that Rinku aged about 11 years was missing from the evening of January 5, 1997. Her body was found on the next day at about 6.30 a.m. The prosecution story as revealed by PW 1 Ram Kewal was that he lodged the FIR at 7.30 a.m. on finding the dead body of Rinku near the bushes at Medical College ground. It was his say that on January 5, 1997, she had gone out of the house at about 6.00 p.m. to bring milk. After she brought milk, he saw Raju (accused) offering toffees to Rinku and other children. PW 2 Makhan Lal, a neighbour had also seen Rinku and Raju going towards Chandan Nagar. As Rinku had not returned till 9.00 p.m., they looked for her as well as Raju throughout the night. In the morning they found the dead body of Rinku. Blood stained brick and on-the-spot blood was also found. Immediately, after asking PW 2 to wait at the scene of offence, PW 1 Ram Kewal reached at the Gurgaon Police Station and lodged the FIR at about 7.30 a.m. Further, the prosecution version was that on January 6, 1997 accused contacted PW 3 Subhash Sharma and made confessional statement to him that he committed rape and murder of Rinku near the boundary wall of the college building. He stated that he caused injury to the deceased by hitting the brick on her head and mouth as the deceased threatened that she would report the rape committed by him to her parents.
Decisions of the Trial Court and the High Court
The Sessions Judge convicted the appellant for the offence punishable under sections 302, 363 and 376, IPC and sentenced him to death under section 302; to 7 years rigorous imprisonment under section 376 and to 3 years rigorous imprisonment under section 363, IPC.
The High Court of Punjab and Haryana in appeal and in the death reference confirmed the conviction and sentence.
He then preferred an appeal to the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the High Court.
Judgment: The Supreme Court held that the High Court after appreciating the entire evidence had rightly confirmed the conviction order passed by the Sessions Court. Regarding the question that whether this was a rarest of rare cases where extreme punishment of death was required to be imposed, the Court held that in the present case, from the confessional statement made by the accused, it would appear that there was no intention on the part of the accused to commit the murder of the deceased child. He caused injury to the deceased by giving two brick blows as she stated that she would disclose the incident at her house. The learned Sessions Judge committed error in recording the evidence of S.I. Shakuntala, PW 15 with regard to the confessional statement made to her, but in any set of circumstances, evidence on record discloses that accused was not having intention to commit the murder of the girl who accompanied him. On the spur of the moment without there being any premeditation, he gave two brick blows which caused her death. The Court further observed that there was nothing on record to indicate that the appellant was having any criminal record nor he can be said to be a grave danger to the society at large. Basing on these circumstances, the Court said that it would be difficult to hold that the case of the appellant would be rarest of rare cases justifying imposition of death penalty.
Thus the Court upheld the conviction of the appellant under section 302, but commuted the sentence of death to imprisonment for life. Subject to the aforesaid modification of sentence, the appeal was dismissed.