Death penalty for heinous crimes can’t be dubbed outrageous: SC

New Delhi: Rising incidents of kidnapping and abduction for ransom not only by ordinary criminals but even by terrorists necessitate a stringent punishment for those indulging in such activities, the Supreme Court said while upholding death sentence under section 364A of IPC.

The gradual growth of the challenges posed by kidnapping and abductions for ransom, not only by ordinary criminals for monetary gain or as an organised activity for economic gains but by terrorist organisations is what necessitated the incorporation of Section 364A of the IPC and a stringent punishment for those indulging in such activities.

The apex court’s verdict came on a petition filed by a convict, who was awarded death sentence in a kidnapping and murder case, challenging the constitutional validity of section 364A of IPC.

The convict in question was, Vikram Singh, who had been convicted for abducting and killing a 16-year-old. He challenged his death sentence, arguing that capital punishment is applicable only to terrorists.

While the Supreme Court reserves the death penalty for the rarest of the rare cases, the last few persons to be executed were people convicted on terror charges – Yakub Memon, who was convicted as one of the co-conspirators of the 1993 Mumbai blasts in which a series of 13 explosions rocked Mumbai resulting in 257 fatalities and injuries to 713 others. Afzal Guru, who was convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack case and Ajamal Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist caught for the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

“Given the background in which the law was enacted and the concern shown by Parliament for the safety and security of the citizens and the unity, sovereignty and integrity of the country, the punishment prescribed for those committing any act contrary to Section 364A cannot be dubbed as so outrageously disproportionate to the nature of the offence as to call for same being declared unconstitutional,” a three-judge bench headed by Justice TS Thakur said.