Life imprisonment is the rule to which death penalty is the exception, says Supreme Court

  1. In a recent judgement,Supreme Court has said that if court finds it difficult to make a choice between death penalty and life imprisonment,it should opt for the lesser punishment.
  2. The judgment was based on an appeal filed by a man sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a five-year-old in Madhya Pradesh.The Supreme court ordered the convict to serve his life sentence with a minimum of 25 years imprisonment without remission.Remission is the reduction of the term of a prison sentence,usually due to good behaviour or conduct.
  3. The court has said that death sentence must be imposed only when life imprisonment appears to be an inappropriate punishment for the crime that the person has committed.
  4. The two landmark cases on death penalty are:Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab,in which SC ruled that death penalty could be imposed only in rarest of rare cases in which the alternative sentence of life is unquestionably foreclosed.
  5. However,Machhi Singh Vs.State of Punjab case provided exceptions to the rarest of rare rule and death penalty can be invoked when (a)Murder is committed in extremely brutal manner so as to arouse extreme indignation of the community (b)Murder is committed by a motive which evinces total depravity and meanness and (c)crime is enormous in proportion.