The Supreme Court of India, in August 2019, had upheld the death penalty awarded to Manoharan for being involved in gang rape of a 10-year old girl, and thereafter murdering her and her brother.
Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Surya Kant had upheld the death penalty, and Justice Sanjiv Khanna had expressed his dissent against upholding death sentence.
In the review petition, it was contended, by Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, that death ought not be awarded in case of a single dissent, notwithstanding the opinon of the majority. It was also contended that, in a case where one of the Judges did not deem it appropriate to award death penalty, that in itself ought to be a sufficient ground to commute death sentence in Review.
Justice Surya Kant observed that the said view is unsupported in view of judgments in Devender Pal Singh v. State of NCT of Delhi and also in Krishna Mochi v. State of Bihar.
The Supreme Court held that, "Further, even sans the aforesaid decisions, we are not inclined to accept such a reasoning for it is contrary to the established jurisprudence of precedents and interpretation of verdicts with multiple opinions. It is settled in law that dissenting opinions have little precedential value and that there is no difference in operation between decisions rendered unanimously or those tendered by majority, albeit with minority dissenting views".
The bench also observed that there can be no hard rule of not awarding death in cases based on circumstantial evidence owing to recent developments in medical science and the possibility of abuse by seasoned criminals.
Tags : Supreme Court of India