A bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and Markanadey Katju handed down the ruling while reducing the death sentence of one Anil alias Raju Namdev Patil to life imprisonment. He was convicted for kidnapping a five-year-old child of his employer for ransom.
Paras, a student of the Coast Guard School, was kidnapped on August 3, 2000 and later a ransom of Rs 25 lakh was demanded from his parents who owned a factory in Daman.
Anil was the driver of Ashwin, father of the deceased child whose bones were recovered after five days of his kidnapping on August 7 from a 'nallah'.
Later, two killers of the child Satish and Chottu committed suicide in a hotel. The suicide note left behind by them implicated the name of appellant Anil in the murder of the child.
The judicial Magistrate recorded the confession of the appellant under Section 164 of the CrPC that he kidnapped the child but had no hand in the murder as he had handed over Paras to the two co-accused.
Anil was awarded capital punishment by the trial courtunder Section 364-A read with Section 201 of the IPC and the judgment was upheld by the High Court.
However, the Supreme Court while commuting the death sentence in their judgment on December 24 noted that the offence was punishable under Section 364 of the IPC and not under Section 364-A as there was no evidence that the kidnapping took place to compel government or any foreign state or international inter-governmental organisations or any other person to do or abstain from doing any act or to pay ransom.
The apex court also ruled, ''The statement of a deceased may be admissible in evidence in terms of the Section 32(I) of the Indian Evidence Act to prove the cause of death or as to any of ircumstances about the transaction which resulted in his death.
However, when a suicide is committed by the co-accused, statements made in the suicide note implicating other co-accused would not be admissible thereunder.'' UNI