|Case Name||Manoharan vs State by Inspector of Police (2019)|
7 SCC 716
|Date Of Judgement||7 November, 2019|
|Respondents||State by Inspector of PoliceVariety Hall Police Station, Coimbatore|
|Bench||Rohinton Fali Nariman, Sanjiv Khanna, Surya Kant|
|Statutes Referred||Sections 120-B, 364-A, 376, 302, 324 of the Indian Penal Code|
- The accused, along with another individual, kidnapped the victims, a girl of 10 years old and her younger sibling who was 7 years old, in the year 2010.
- Mohanakrishnan took a car without permission and picked up kids who were getting ready to go to school outside the temple.
- The children were then taken to the Gopalaswamy Temple Hills, a remote place.
- After that, the girl was sexually raped, and both of the victims were ultimately put to death by having their bodies dumped alive in a canal.
- After a fight between two of the inmates resulted in the death of one of the inmates, the High Court decided that the other criminal should be put to death.
- An appeal lodged against the judgement made by the High Court was heard by a panel of three judges from the Supreme Court.
- ISSUES RAISED[ii]
- Whether this Court should uphold the death penalty?
- Whether the aggravating factors established by the High Court exceed the mitigating circumstances in the current instance, which include the accused’s rural residence, young age (just 23), and lack of any prior convictions.
The Supreme Court ruled that there were aggravating factors in the case, rendering it eligible for the death penalty.
The crime involved the ambush of a minor, the murder of two children, and an attempt to exterminate the remaining children by giving them bovine dung powder; thus, the violent element cannot be ignored.
They anticipated the children’s certain demise but failed miserably; they then took the children to Deepalapatti, a desolate location on the fringes of the Coimbatore District where the P.A.P. channel flows vigorously. They led the children away one by one, and two kilometres from the channel, the bodies were discovered. Manoharan (the appellant) pushed “Y” (the child), whose decomposing corpse was discovered two days later. Both of the defendants, in this case, abused the defenceless adolescents, who were innocent and vulnerable.
The “rarest of the rare cases” is when a convict poses a threat to public order and peace. Instances in which the accused does not act or exhibit any spur-of-the-moment incitement, but rather amuses himself by meticulously planning and carrying out a transgression. Perhaps the death penalty is the most appropriate punishment for such a heinous crime.
Given that the appellant had been beaten by the officers, the appellant’s attorney argued that the learned magistrate should not have registered the confessional statement. The High Court has addressed this aspect of the case by stating that the Ld. Magistrate repeatedly questioned the Appellant as to whether the statement he is providing is voluntary or the result of torture or beatings.
The appellant asserted repeatedly that the statement was provided voluntarily. The High Court also noted that the confessional statement was retracted one year and nine months after it was made and that the retraction statement confirms the original confessional statement in every detail except for the appellant’s role in the rape and murder of the 10-year-old girl and girl and boy, respectively. Due to these factors, the court denied the senior counsel for the appellant’s arguments in this case.
In a 2:1 majority decision, the Supreme Court upheld the Appellant’s death sentence for the heinous rape of a 10-year-old girl and the double murder of her and her seven-year-old brother in Coimbatore.
The majority judgement of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Surya Kant stated that the defendant, Manoharan, had shown no remorse for the horrific murder and that it was a case of the “rarest of rare category” deserving of the death punishment.
In his majority opinion, Justice Nariman stated that the trial court and, later, the Madras High Court correctly balanced the aggravating and mitigating factors for and against Manoharan to determine that the “crime committed was cold-blooded and involves the rape of a minor girl and murder of two children in the most heinous fashion possible.”
According to the majority decision, Manoharan fraudulently retracted only those sections of his earlier confessional statement that linked him to the rape and murder of the little girl and her younger brother.
As a result, while weighing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the majority of Supreme Court decisions hold that the aggravating circumstance would tip the scales in favour of capital punishment.
In light of the facts and circumstances of the case, the majority of Supreme Court decisions conclude that the death penalty is the only appropriate punishment.
The crime is perpetrated with extreme violence, and society’s collective conscience would be appalled.
As a result, the majority of Supreme Court decisions hold that the capital punishment/death sentence pronounced by the learned Sessions Court and confirmed by the High Court does not require interference by this Court. As a result, the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty and dismissed the appeals.
- DEFECTS OF THE LAW / DISSENTING JUDGEMENT
Even though his conviction was upheld, Manoharan was given a sentence of life in prison without the option of release or commuting until the time of his natural death by Justice Sanjeev Khanna, who believed that the judgement reached by the majority was incorrect.
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Khanna stated that the recantation of the confession ought to be interpreted as “an afterthought or on advice propelled by fear that the appellant (Manoharan) in light of his admission may face the gallows and that the earlier confession made seeking forgiveness would be the cause of his death.”
This “doubt and attempt to retract had surfaced due to the belief that the sense of remorse, repentance, and forgiveness would not be appreciated and given due regard,” as the author puts it, “cannot be ruled out.” According to Justice Khanna, the retraction ought not to be utilised as evidence in the case against Manoharan.
In addition, Justice Khanna took into consideration the fact that Manoharan was a first-time offender while weighing the mitigating circumstances in favour of Manoharan. He had just turned 23 years old when the crime was committed. He was raised in a household with a limited income by his elderly parents. His companion Mohanakrishnan, who was later killed in a meeting with the police, was the mastermind behind the crime.
“On his own, Mohanakrishnan conceived of, developed, and put into action the plan to kidnap the children.” After that, the appellant caught up with him and was there with Mohanakrishnan. The outcome of this was that the evil side of Mohanakrishnan manifested itself, and he proceeded to sexually torture and rape the young girl while the appellant stayed silent. After then, the appellant was the victim of a sexual assault and a rape. After that, the children were given poison right before they were tossed into the canal.
Although the judge described the crime as “heinous and deplorable,” the death penalty was not issued in this case.
The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, is the legal procedure by which an individual convicted of a heinous offence is put to death by a court of law. This is referred to as a death sentence when a court issues a judicial decree to execute an individual. The court imposes the death penalty for the most heinous offences, also known as capital offences or capital crimes.
In its 35th report (1967), the Law Commission of India highlighted the following aspects regarding the death penalty:
- The death penalty deters criminal behaviour. It aids in the eradication of criminals. When certain hazardous forms of crime endanger public safety, the death penalty is the only means of eliminating the offender.
- The death penalty is the harshest form of punishment available. The Indian Penal Code of 1860 specifies the crimes punishable by the death penalty. In many cases, the court imposes the death penalty, but it can take up to several years to execute the sentence because the defendant continues to file various petitions to avoid execution, thereby wasting the court’s time and postponing justice.
It is only appropriate to put someone to death for the most heinous of crimes, those that seriously disrupt the peace in society. The rape and murder of a girl and boy both 10 years old is the kind of news that breaks the hearts of everyone in the country. The commission of crimes of this nature does not take place in a single moment; rather, it is preceded by extensive planning and preparation. Convicts should have the opportunity to appeal their sentences because this is an essential measure; however, the legislature must find a balance between the sentence and the execution of those convicted.
[i] An analysis of death sentence in light of the case of Manoharan v. State of Tamil Nadu, Ipleaders July 16, 2021)
[ii] Case Summary Manoharan vs State by Inspector of Police, Legal Thirst, (June 12, 2021)
iii Editor, Manoharan Vs State by Inspector of Police Variety Hall Police Station Coimbatore, Law Express,(July 21, 2020)
iv Manoharan Vs State by Inspector Police (2019) 7 SCC 716
NMIMS KIRIT P MEHTA SCHOOL OF LAW