By – Lakshay Sharma
In the Supreme Court of India
|Name of the Case
|Rajendra Prasad Vs State Of Uttar Pradesh
|Date of the Case
|9th February 1979
|State Of Uttar Pradesh
|The Constitution of India, Indian Penal Code
|S. 302 of the Indian Penal Code; A. 14 of the Constitution of India
Our laws are meant to maintain order in society by various means like checks and balances and somewhere through punishments, which can range from a simple fine to death penalties which are considered capital punishments.
In this era, capital punishments are considered as brutal as the act done by the accused, it’s said, “GOD IS THE ONE WHO GIVES LIFE, ONLY HE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO TAKE IT TOO”. The question arising here is what to do for the punishment to act as a deterrent for society, so they don’t repeat the same offences.
The dispute and feuds between two branches of a family led to brutal murders of the members of a family. The first murder led to the imprisonment of the accused of life and after getting out of prison again murdered a friend of the same family. The High court passed a death sentence as he was considered a menace to society and a proclaimed offender.
This case dealt with whether it was right to pass a death sentence for the same act in the view of social justice and A. 14 of the Indian Constitution, which deal with the right to life and the court itself seizes the same right from a person,
Background of the Case
- The petitioner here, Rajendra Prasad son of Pyarelal, and one Rambharosay belonged to two branches of the same family.
- The family had a prolonged family feud and was on inimical terms.
- The spark was ignited by the kidnapping of a wife of the family of Pyarelal and led to a brother’s stabbing by knife.
- A truce was brought down between the families by Lok Adalats of the village.
- Later on, the petitioner, Rajendra Prasad murdered one of the family members of the other family i.e. of Rambharosay’s.
- Rajendra Prasad was sentenced to life imprisonment by the court.
- After serving his time in prison, Rajendra Prasad was released on the Gandhi Jayanti in 1972.
- On 25th October 1972, Rajendra Prasad along with his brother Pooran rushed to the house of Rambharosay’s brother Sri Kishan armed with a knife at around 11 a.m. but Sri Kishan managed to escape.
- Later in the evening at around 5:30 p.m. Rambharosay and his friend Mansukh were standing in the lane in front of the house of Rambharosay and Rajendra Prasad appeared out of blue armed with a knife and started giving blows on vital parts of Rambharosay.
- Rambharosay managed to escape from Rajendra Prasad’s grip and ran inside his home and locked the door.
- Mansukh on other hand tried to beseech Rajendra Prasad to not to hurt them.
- Rajendra Prasad in rage turned to Mansukh and started giving blows with the knife, Mansukh tried to bolt and run away to save himself but was chased by Rajendra Prasad over a distance of 200-250 ft. and was finally caught and finally killed by another series of repeated blows by Rajendra Prasad.
- The Allahabad High Court gave the order of Capital Punishment to Rajendra Prasad, which was challenged in the apex court herein.
Facts of the Case
- The appellant, Rajendra Prasad is accused of double murder.
- Initially, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for First Murder and was later released after serving his time in prison on the eve of Gandhi Jayanti in 1972.
- Later on 25th October 1972, just 23 days later, he again brutally murdered a friend of the other family in the flare of the prolonged family feud.
- The Allahabad looking into the facts sentenced him with Capital Punishment but the order was challenged in the supreme court on the basis the accused isn’t a menace to society but the murder took place only because of a personal family feud and nothing else.
- Capital Punishment: When and Why shall be pronounced on a murderer and why not in other cases?
Arguments of the Petitioner
- The accused isn’t a menace to society, the reason why he went rival and killed two persons was due to inimical relations and prolonged family feud.
- Death has decisively lost the battle, and even in our Codes, it has shrunk into a weak exception.
- The personal story of an actor in a shocking murder, if considered, may bring tears and soften the sentence. He might have been a tortured child, an ill-treated orphan, a jobless man, or the convict’s poverty might be responsible for the crime.
“Section 302 in The Indian Penal Code
Punishment for murder.—Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or 1[imprisonment for life], and shall also be liable to fine.”
“Article 14 in The Constitution Of India
Equality before law The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.”
- The Hon’ble Judges, with a majority view, dismissed the appeal for a reprieve or commutation of their penalties.
- The sentences were reduced from capital punishment to imprisonment for life.
- The death penalty imposed was considered “erroneous in principle” but wasn’t “arbitrary or excessive”.
- J. V Krishnaiyer was of the view that “appellants can’t be allowed to escape with the lesser punishment after they had committed such intentional, cold-blooded, deliberate and brutal murders will deprive the law of its effectiveness and result in travesty of justice.”
The case dealt with the principle of capital punishment, when and whether it is appropriate to pass an order of capital punishment in murder cases.
This 72-page long judgment authored by J. V Krishnaiyer in deep explained various aspects and notions which are of importance while looking into murder cases. Each case is different and facts are different too, so it won’t be easy to determine the predetermined aspects to be kept in view while passing a capital punishment order.
The death penalty is to act as a deterrent, not an act of injustice or brutality towards society, the cases with cold-blooded murderers and brutal ones are to not be ignored and after looking into the facts, it will be righteous to pass the sentence of capital punishment.