The apex court is of the view that the plea of mental ailment will not rescue the accused from the gallows until and unless the ailment is major and mitigated in the court of law.
The bench comprising of Justice NV Ramana, Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Indira Benerjee reduced the death penalty of a person convicted of rape and murder of two minor girls.
In the year 2001, the accused was convicted and sentenced to death by the trial court and later on, the appeal was made in the HC but there was no change in the punishment and the HC confirmed the death sentence. Further, the appeal was made in SC wherein the appeal was dismissed in 2008. Later on, invoking the judgment in Mohd. Arif@Ashfaq v. The Registrar, he filed a petition seeking reopening of a review petition.
In the review petition, two issues raised wherein it was stated that the trial court has violated the right of pre-sentence hearing of the accused while awarding the death sentence, which is a clear contravention of Section 235(2) of Cr. PC. However, the second issue raised was that without considering the fact that the person is suffering from mental ailment or insanity the court pronounced the judgment which is a clear violation of Article 21 of the constitution which empowers every citizen of the right to life and personal liberty.
The bench stated that as far as the first issue was concerned the sufficient opportunity was provided to the accused be it oral submissions or by bringing pertinent material on record. With regards to the second issue the bench noted that as per the reports of the psychiatrist, the accused has been reeling under bouts of some form of mental irritability. The bench commuted his death sentence.