Post conviction mental illness: a mitigating factor to commute death sentence to life imprisonment ?

The Supreme Court in the case of Accused X vs the State of Maharashtra held that post conviction illness is a good ground and a mitigating factor to commute death sentence to life imprisonment. . In the above case, the mitigating factor was determined after the conviction.

In the following case, X had mercilessly raped and murdered two minor girls studying in the fourth and the first standard on the pretext of offering sweets to them. Before this incident, it is pertinent to note that X, had been convicted before for the prior rape of a 9 year old girl and the kidnapping and rape of a 7 year old girl.
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Taking all these surroundings into consideration, The High court had rightly sentenced the accused and given him ample opportunity under Section 235 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Further the court also realized that such a man is a threat to the society as a whole and cannot be let loose in the society.

The Supreme Court laid down important guidelines for the determination of mental illness and its identification. Further, the court also held that every person with mental illness must live with dignity and hence directed the registry to not disclose the actual name of the accused in compliance with section 23 of the mental healthcare act.

The basic rule of punishment prescribes that the criminal must understand his crime, and due to mental illness, if one is unable to decipher or comprehend the reason of punishment then such is held a mitigating circumstance and a ground to commute death sentence into life imprisonment.


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