IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Criminal Appeal Nos. 1174-1175 of 2019
[Arising out of SLP (Criminal) Nos.7581-7582 of 2014]
State by Inspector of Police
Variety Hall Police Station, Coimbatore
Mohanakrishnan borrowed a car without permission and picked up two children from outside the temple, who were preparing to go to their school. One was a girl of 10 years of age and other one was a 7 years old boy. The children were transported into the car and were driven to the petrol pump, before the Appellant was picked up from his house.
The children were then taken to a remote area called the Gopalaswamy Temple Hills. There, the hand of the girls were tied and was allegedly raped by both the Appellant and the Mohanakrishnan. Considering the rape committed brutally, the two accused tried to do away with the children and brought the cow dung powder which is a poisonous substance which is mixed with cow dung to keep insects away. They mixed the substance with the milk, however, the small dose of ingetion of the powder was not enough and thus, the children did not die.
Then the accused threw both the children in Parambikulam-Axhiyar Project canal and it was alleged by the prosecution that the Appelant tied up the girl and pushed her into the canal whereas the boy was pushed into the canal by Mohanakrishnan. The bags of the children were found floating in the canal.
Mohanakrishnan was arrested in the evening of the same day with the help of one of the witnesses named Anbu Gandhiraj. The body of the girl was recovered next day from the canal. On 31.10.10, the Appellant was arrested and the boy’s body was also recovered.
Mohanakrishnan was shot dead in an encounter by the police on 9.11.10, leaving the Appellant as the only accused to be tried.
1. Whether the case falls under the rarest of the rare category allowing a death sentence.
2. Whether the nature of the confession was voluntary.
The High Court had the view that the case was of aggravating circumstances and thus make it a case where a death penalty may be provided.
The offence was one of an ambush of a minor and murder of two children and there was also an attempt made to eliminate the children by giving them cow dung powder thus, the element of violence cannot be ignored.
They expected the guaranteed death of the children but failed horrendously, and then they took the children to Deepalapatti, a disengaged spot in the edges of Coimbatore District, where the P.A.P channel streams with enthusiasm. They drove the children one by one and the bodies were found 2 kilometers away from the channel. Manoharan (the appellant) pushed “’Y’ (the boy) and the body was recovered after 2 days. Both the accused here, misused the powerless adolescents and were guiltless and feeble.
The “rarest of the uncommon cases” comes when a convict is a hazard and a risk to agreed and quiet conjunction to the general public. Where the denounced does not act or show any impromptu incitement but entertains himself with an intentionally arranged wrongdoing and by meticulously executing it. Death sentence may be the most appropriate punishment for such a ghastly crime.
In this situation,it can be construed in a way that the accused could be a danger to the general public where he assaulted a 10- year old girl and pushed a 7- year old boy in a water way. Thus the R.R. (Rare of the rarest) Test is also satisfied.
Learned counsel for the Appellant, then argued that the Learned Magistrate should have refused to record the confessional statement made, given the fact that Appellant had been beaten by the police. The High Court has dealt with this aspect of the case by stating that the Ld. Magistrate asked the Appellant repeatedly as to whether the statement that is being given by him is voluntary or because of torture or beatings. The appellant repeatedly expressed that the statement was being given voluntarily. Further, the High Court adverted to the fact that the retraction that was made from the confessional statement was made in one year and nine months after it was made and the retraction statement confirms the original confessional statement in every detail except that the Appellant retracts the part played by him in the rape and murder of the ten year old girl and the girl & boy respectively. For all these reasons, therefore, the court rejected the arguments of the Ld. Counsel for the Appellant in this behalf.
Even observed devoid of any aggravating circumstances, mere young age and presence of aged parents cannot be grounds for commutation. One may view that such young age poses a continuous burden on the State and presents a longer risk to society, hence warranting more serious intervention by Courts. Similarly, just because the deceased co-accused Mohanakrishnan was the mastermind whose offence was comparatively more egregious, the court could not commute the otherwise barbarically shocking offences of the petitioner. The bench said that it is also not inclined to give leeway of the lack of criminal record, considering that the current crime was not just one offence, but comprised of multiple offences over the series of many hours.
Even if the cases involving confession merit some leniency and compassion, however, as was earlier noted in its majority opinion, the attempted retraction of the statement showed how the petitioner was in fact remorseless. Such belated retractions further raised to the fear that any remorse or repentance shown by the petitioner might be temporary and that he could relapse to his old ways. Irrespective of the underlying reasons behind such retraction, whether it be the fear of death or feeling that he was not getting any benefit of his earlier confession, but the possibility of recidivism was heightened and the bench could no longer look at the initial confession in a vacuum.
Rather, the present case was essentially one where two accused misused societal trust to hold as captive two innocent school-going children, one of whom was brutally raped and sodomised, and thereupon administered poison and finally, drowned by throwing them into a canal. It was not in the spur of the moment or a crime of passion; but craftily planned, meticulously executed and with multiple opportunities to cease and desist. The bend had the view that the present offence(s) of the Petitioner were so grave as to shock the conscience of the Court and of society and would without doubt amount to rarest of the rare. Hence, the court find that there exist no grounds to review the judgment upholding conviction and death penalty. The review petitions were accordingly dismissed.
The conversation, arguments, and the point of views on the death sentence were evolved in this case. Law follows the change in a society and it becomes essential for it to maintain its dynamic nature. Though, the interpretation of law is still highly positivistic in nature. Therefore, the importance of the distinction between the death penalty and the life imprisonment still requires a lot of research at this juncture.