On Friday, the Supreme Court of India said that all the High Courts should give notice to the accused before enhancing sentences. In a recent matter, Rajasthan High Court sentenced life imprisonment to death by modifying his sentence of imprisonment for life simpliciter.
The dual bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and P.S. Narasimha said that High Court can exercise suo moto powers and enhance the sentence, but they should give prior notice to the accused persons.
“As a result of the judgment and order of the High Court, the sentence awarded to the appellants has been enhanced without the appellants having an opportunity to defend their case as to why the enhanced sentence should not be granted.”
“No doubt that the High Court could have itself exercised suo moto powers and enhanced the sentence. However, prior to doing so, the High Court was required to give notice to the appellants. Admittedly, the same has not been done.”
In the said matter, the trial court convicted the accused under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Further, the Court has filed an appeal in the Rajasthan High Court it was noted that the offense falls within the ambit of the “rarest of rare category”. The High Court convicted the accused but enhanced the life sentence.
While enhancing the sentence, the High Court observed that the trial Court failed to take note of the fact that the present case falls in the category of ‘rarest of the rare cases for the purpose of awarding the death sentence.
The accused was charged with attacking nine members of the family As a result of multiple injuries four members succumbed to death. An appeal was filed in the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the Rajasthan High Court.
The Supreme Court accepted the fact that the decision of the Rajasthan High Court was not correct and admitted the fact that the accused were not provided an opportunity to defend their case.
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