It opined that it would reflect compromised objectivity if judges aimed to nullify statutory provisions carrying the death sentence as an alternative punishment, even after it has been held as constitutional.
“Over the time, even the proposition of larger/longer term of actual imprisonment with no remission or curtailed remission has also evolved but, it has never been the effort of the courts to somehow make this punishment (sentence of death) redundant and non-existent for all practical purposes. The quest for justice in such cases, with death sentence being awarded and maintained only in extreme cases, does not mean that the matter would be approached and examined in the manner that death sentence has be avoided, even if the matter indeed calls for such a punishment,” the Court said.
The observations were made by a three-judge Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar in the judgment of Manoj Pratap Singh v State of Rajasthan while confirming the death sentence awarded to a man convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing a seven-and-a-half-year-old mentally and physically disabled girl.
Interestingly, these observations come at a time when the apex court has through a string of orders been attempting to streamline the entire death penalty jurisprudence in the country, particularly in relation to procedural aspects.