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SC commutes death penalty of TN man to 20 years imprisonment

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday commuted the death sentence awarded to a Tamil Nadu man for the kidnapping and murdering of a seven-year-old boy in 2009.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha upheld the conviction but set aside the death penalty and commuted it to 20 years imprisonment without any reprieve. Commuting the death penalty, the bench said, "Applicant is a convict on death row. Petition to have a re-look at his conviction on the basis of Mohammed Arif's judgment where it was held review must be held in open court. We see no reason in doubting the guilt of the petitioner. Exercising powers under review to interfere with conviction is not warranted. We commute the death sentence to imprisonment of 20 years."
The top court had in February 2013 condemned Sundar alias Sundarrajan to the gallows, however, five years later, in November 2018, the apex court agreed to review its verdict of the death penalty.
It also directed the initiation of contempt of court proceedings against a Cuddalore police officer for filing an incorrect affidavit before the Court.
"Notice to the Police officer Cuddalore as to why action should not be taken in pursuance to the affidavit filed in court. Registry directed to initiate a suo motu contempt case against the officer," the bench stated in its order.
The judgment of the top court came on a review petition filed by Sundarrajan against the apex court's 2013 verdict which had upheld the death sentence.
The crime dates back to 2009 when the victim was accosted by the convict while on his way to school. As per the prosecution, the convict informed the boy that his mother and grandmother were not well and he should accompany him to the hospital.
As per the witnesses, the boy was last seen alive getting on the motorbike of the convict.
The boy was the sole "male child" of his parents, who were unable to pay Rs 5 lakh ransom for the child's release. The convict had acknowledged that the boy was strangulated when the ransom was not paid for his release and the body was put in a gunny bag and thrown into a water tank.
In 2013, the apex court while confirming the death penalty, highlighted that the convict had no value for human life, and the manner of the murder of an innocent child and disposal of the body showed a brutal mindset. (ANI)

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