SC said that the trial court does not have the power to direct life imprisonment for the remainder of natural life as this power is vested with the high court and the supreme court only.
By: Shailvi Gupta, Banasthali University, Jaipur
The court on deciding the appeal by the accused who was alleged to have murdered 2 minor children of 4 years and 2 years said that the trial court does not have the right to give life imprisonment for the remainder of natural life in the case titled Gauri Shanker V. State of Punjab.
A Bench of Justices Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi accepted the contention raised in this regard by a murder accused. The Supreme Court said that though the judgment of life imprisonment till death should not be given by trial court but after looking into the entire case, we consider appropriate and order the same judgement as given by trial court initially i.e., life imprisonment for the remainder of the natural life under section 302 IPC.
The facts of the case go as follows:
Anju was the mother of these two children who lived with the accused Gauri Shanker who was not the father of the said above children as the biological father died of the excessive intake of liquor.
Accused didn’t like the children and he warned Anju several times that we would kill them. One month before the fatal accident, he broke the leg of one of the children but on the fateful day when Anju went to the temple, he administered celphos (poison) to children and killed them.
At the trial court, he confessed the crime and was held guilty of life imprisonment for the remainder of natural life but later on, he said that the prosecution coerced him to do so and the accused appealed in the high court where he was held guilty and then he appealed in Supreme Court.
The honorable court said“On the legal principles, the learned counsel for the appellant appears to be correct, but we have taken note of the prosecution case in totality with motive of the crime that he was living in a relationship with the complainant Anju who had two children from the previous marriage, and had taken away the life of two minor innocent children at the very threshold of their life and murdered in a brutal manner by administering celphos to them has been established. It is true that the punishment of remainder of natural life could not have been imposed by the learned trial Judge but after looking into the entire case, we consider it appropriate to confirm the sentence of imprisonment for life to mean the remainder of natural life while upholding the conviction under Section 302 IPC.”