The Supreme Court in a recent case of Babasaheb Maruti Kamble v. State of Maharashtra has held that special leave petition filed in those cases where death sentence is awarded by the courts below, should not be dismissed without giving reasons, at least qua death sentence.
A three-judge Bench comprising of Justices A.K. Sikri, Ashok Bhushan and Indira Banerjee was hearing a review petition filed by the petitioner who was convicted for offences under Sections 302, 376(2)(f) and 342 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The petitioner was awarded death penalty for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, by the trial court for which a Reference to the High Court was made for the confirmation of the death sentence. The petitioner also challenged his conviction and sentences imposed by filing a Criminal Appeal before the High Court. The High Court upheld the conviction under the aforesaid provisions and also confirmed death sentence of the petitioner. Against that judgment, the petitioner preferred Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 458 of 2015. The special leave petition came up for preliminary hearing on January 06, 2015, which was dismissed by passing the following order: "Delay condoned. Dismissed."
Thus, the present review petition was filed seeking review of the aforesaid order of dismissal in limine.
Senior Advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the petitioner, submitted before the court that “in a case where conviction is followed by death sentence, and the special leave petition is filed thereagainst, such petition should not be dismissed in limine and in case the Supreme Court still finds it fit to do so, some reasons need to be recorded.”
The senior counsel relied on Mohammed Ajmal Mohammad Amir Kasab alias Abu Mujahid v. State of Maharashtra to contend that, in those cases where death sentence is imposed, the court should summon the record when it is making the final order even at the stage of special leave petition.
Taking into consideration the submissions made by the senior counsel, the court said that “there may be cases where at the special leave petition stage itself, the Court may find that insofar as conviction is concerned there is no scope for interference at all as such a conviction for offence under Section 302 is recorded on the basis of evidence which is impeccable, trustworthy, credible and proves the guilt of the accused beyond any shadow of doubt. At the same time, if death penalty is to be affirmed even while dismissing the special leave petition in limine, it should be by a reasoned order on the aspect of sentence, at least.”
Further, the court also said that proper exercise of sentence discretion calls for consideration of various factors like the nature of offence, circumstances—both extenuating or aggravating, the prior criminal record, if any, of the offender, the age of the offender, his background, his education, his personal life, his social adjustment, the emotional and mental condition of the offender, the prospects for the rehabilitation of the offender, the possibility of his rehabilitation in the life of community, the possibility of treatment or training of the offender, the possibility that the sentence may serve as a deterrent to crime by the offender or by others.
Thus, the court allowing the review petition recalled the order dated January 6, 2015, and restored the special leave petition to its original number.