HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court on Saturday reduced the death sentence given to a man, who raped and killed a nine-month-old infant in Warangal city, to life imprisonment till his last breath.
Observing that the convict should be given a chance to re-form, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy said the convict, Polepaka Praveen, can become a role model for other prisoners as a person in a new avatar.
“Even while a prisoner is incarcerated, he can be reformed to the extent that he can be employed within the jail administration, and he becomes a role model for other prisoners,” the bench said. The judges limited the convict to the four walls of jail till his death, stating that he will neither be granted remission nor released till his last breath.
Praveen abducted the infant on the night of June 18, 2019, from the side of her mother, who was asleep on the terrace of the house in Kumarpally in Hanam-konda. He sexually violated the baby before strangling her to death. The victim’s relatives and locals caught Praveen within a few hours.
The rape and murder of the infant evoked massive public outcry. The public demanded death for the accused. Investigators registered a case against Praveen under different sections of IPC and provisions of the POCSO Act.
The First Additional Judge cum Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act special court of Wara-ngal held the trial, examined 42 witnesses, and delivered the verdict in 50 days. The trial court held Pra-veen guilty and sentenced him to death.
Challenging the order, Praveen filed an appeal before the High Court while the prosecution sought confirmation of the capital punishment. The bench heard the appeal and prosecution’s case simultaneously and reduced the punishment to life.
Referring to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Bachan Singh, which stated that the death penalty can be imposed only in “the rarest of rare cases”, the bench said that the trial courts must consider circumstances of the crime and the criminal.
Reminding that Praveen had no background of criminal nature, the bench opined that he was not beyond reformation. “The state and the society must try their level best to reform an accused. By throwing a young life into the mouth of death, the society and the state abdicate their primary duty to reform the offender,” the bench said.
The court appreciated the efforts of investigation officers and the trial court in dealing with the case....