Death Sentence for Kidnapping for Ransom Cases, Not Barbaric : SC

Lata Jain

Upholding death sentence under section 364A of IPC, the Supreme Court has said “it is true that there is a rise in 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 apex court’s verdict came on a petition filed by a convict, who was awarded death sentence in a kidnapping-cum -murder case, challenging the constitutional validity of section 364A of IPC.

The court made it clear that “situations where the act which the accused is charged with is proved to be an act of terrorism threatening the very essence of our federal, secular and democratic structure may possibly be the only other situation where courts may consider awarding extreme penalty.

“But, short of death in such extreme and rarest of rare cases, imprisonment for life for a proved case of kidnapping or abduction will not qualify for being described as barbaric or inhuman so as to infringe the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.” The apex court concurred with the recommendations of the Law Commission that a separate provision was required keeping in mind the menacing dimensions which terrorist organizations had acquired.

A three-judge bench of Justices T S Thakur, R K Agrawal and Adarsh Kumar Goel said the provision was incorporated as it was not only criminals but terrorist organizations which commit such crimes.

The court said the legislature is presumed to be supremely wise and aware of the needs of the people and the court shows deference to the legislative will and wisdom. It said the court should be slow in upsetting the law passed by Parliament.

“Just because the sentence of death is a possible punishment that may be awarded in appropriate cases cannot make it per se inhuman or barbaric. In the ordinary course and in cases which qualify to be called rarest of the rare, death may be awarded only where kidnapping or abduction has resulted in the death either of the victim or anyone else in the course of the commission of the offence,” it said.

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