If sent to the gallows, his life will get extinguished in a jiffy, life sentence far more severe: Madras High Court commutes death penalty

30th June,2021

If sent to the gallows, his life will get extinguished in a jiffy, life sentence far more severe: Madras High Court commutes death penalty



The Madras High Court recently observed that life imprisonment would be a more severe punishment in this case than death (Dhamodaran @ Prakash v. State) in commuting the death penalty awarded to a man convicted of murdering his mother, wife, and two children allegedly as part of plans to die by group suicide. The verdict was made by a bench of Justices PN Prakash and R Pongiappan, who were not convinced that the case fell within the category of "rarest of rare cases" as defined by the Supreme Court in Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab. The Court reasoned that the defendant in this case was not addicted to crime or a threat to society, hence the death penalty was not appropriate. According to the High Court, the trial court appeared to be carried away by the quantity of injuries detected on the helpless victims in the case when it handed down the death sentence. The Court went on to say, "If the appellant (convict) is sentenced to the gallows, his life will be taken away in a flash." If he is allowed to live, however, the memories of his heinous crime of murdering his mother, wife, and two little children will follow him until his last breath, which, in our judgement, is a far more harsh penalty than death. As a result, the Court reduced the death penalty to life in prison, with the caveat that the appellant/convict would not be eligible for any statutory remission or reduction of his sentence until he had served 25 years in prison. "This rider is included because he had to suffer for at least this long for the mindless violence he had unleashed on the helpless victims, all because he was a coward and lacked the fortitude to face the financial crisis he was in," the Court noted in the judgement.