Cannot say death penalty only means to send a signal to society: Supreme Court refuses to convert life term to death for POCSO convict
Litigation News

Cannot say death penalty only means to send a signal to society: Supreme Court refuses to convert life term to death for POCSO convict

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to interfere with the decision of the Telangana High Court through which the death penalty awarded to a convict under the POCSO Act was converted to life imprisonment (State of Telangana vs Polepaka Praveen).

The Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph was hearing a plea filed by the State of Telangana challenging the decision of the Telangana High Court through which death penalty awarded to a convict by the Trial Court was converted to a life term.

The High Court, while converting the sentence also placed a rider that the convict should not be released till his last breath. However, the State challenged this decision before the Supreme Court.

The State argued that in cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, awarding capital punishment would send a signal to the society against such crimes.

Furthermore, the counsel for the State also submitted that, keeping in view the intent of the Parliament behind enacting POCSO Act, the provisions of the Act should be implemented retrospectively.

The Division Bench of the Supreme Court was unconvinced with this argument and noted that retrospective effect cannot be given when the punishment is to be implemented prospectively.

As regards submissions made regarding the signal to be sent to the society, the Court said that the convict, in this case, was directed to be imprisoned till his last breath by the High Court and that this punishment is punitive enough to send a signal to the society.

"The punishment of not being released till his last breath is punitive enough to send a signal to the society and it cannot be that only the death sentence can send a right signal."
Supreme Court

The Court thus dismissed the plea filed by the State, opining that it was not a fit case to interfere with the order passed by the High Court by exercising jurisdiction under Article 132 of the Constitution.

Read Order:

State of Telangana vs Polepaka Praveen - 15.06.2020.pdf
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