‘Judicial innovation’ helps SC avoid awarding death penalty


‘Judicial innovation’ helps SC avoid awarding death penalty [Polity]

  • Supreme Court decided to opt for, instead of death penalty, a “judicial innovation” for Tattu Lodhi, a child rapist and murderer.
  • This judicial innovation, formalised by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Rajiv Gandhi killers’ case in December 2015, helps “get rid of death penalty” and addresses the genuine concerns of the society to see justice done.
  • The innovation involves substituting death penalty with a “special category” of life imprisonment without the benefit of release on remission for prolonged periods ranging from 25 to 30 years.
  • This innovative approach veering away from capital punishment was formalised after the Supreme Court gave itself the authority to tweak the sentencing laws and evolve a special category of sentence in its judgment in Union of India versus Sriharan alias Murugan last year.
  • The special category is to be limited to a “very few cases”. This special category finds its first mention in the Swami Shraddananda versus State of Karnataka judgment of the Supreme Court in 2008.
  • The innovation is an endeavour by the apex court to make “no party (convict or the society) a loser”.
  • The prolonged period of incarceration with no hope, was justice enough for the rape and murder of a “defenceless child” whose body was found in a gunny bag at Lodhi’s residence in 2011.
  • The judicial innovation bridges the gap between death sentence on the one extreme and only 14 years of actual imprisonment in the name of life imprisonment on the other.