Supreme Court in recent order recalled its 2009 judgement in criminal appeals, which confirmed the death sentence awarded to three accused and restored it for other three accused.
Six men sentenced to death by the Court of Sessions (Nasik) for murdering five members of a family, including children. All the persons were also accused of gangraping and murdering a minor girl of the family. The Bombay High Court on 22 March 2007, upheld the conviction of and sentence of death imposed on Accused No. 1, 2, and 4. While upholding the conviction of accused of No. 3, 5 and 6, commuted their sentence to life imprisonment.
Those accused whose death penalty was confirmed by high court filed an appeal before the apex court and state of Maharashtra filed an appeal the commutation of sentence, for seeking enhancement of the sentence of life imprisonment imposed on other accused.
By the judgement dated 30 April 2009, a two-judge bench of Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of accused and affirmed the death sentence awarded to accused and also allowed state’s appeal restored the sentence to death of others. The petitions seeking review were also dismissed.
Following the decision of the constitution Bench in Mohd. Arif vs. Registrar, the accused then filed applications for reopening the review petitions. Application heard by the bench consists of Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice A. M. khanwikar and Justice D. Y. Chandachud, it was stated that ‘Accused No. 3, 5 and 6 had no proper opportunity to be heard by the bench, before the appeals filed by the state of Maharashtra for enhancement of sentence were decided. They have deprived of an opportunity of engaging counsel.’ With regard to the accused No. 1, 2 and 4, the bench said: in view of our conclusion that the judgement imposing the sentence of death on Accused No. 3, 5 and 6 must be recalled, both fairness and propriety require that the judgement should similarly be recalled as regards Accused No. 1, 2 and 4.”
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