Solitary confinement affected well-being: Supreme Court



The Supreme Court on Friday commuted the death sentence of a convicted of rape and murdernoting that he was held in solitary confinement, which had adverse effects on his well-being.

A bench, led by UU Chief Justice Lalit, noted that BA Umesh was held in solitary confinement in Belagavi prison for a period of 10 years in violation of the law.

“The confinement in solitary confinement therefore had an adverse effect on the appellant’s well-being. Given these characteristics, in our view, the appellant is entitled to have the death sentence imposed on him commuted to life,” said the bench, which also comprised Judges S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi.

However, the high court said he would have to serve a minimum sentence of 30 years before considering a request for remission.

“In our opinion, the ends of justice would be served if, while commuting the death sentence against the appellant, we imposed upon him a term of imprisonment for life, together with a rider that he shall suffer a minimum sentence of 30 years and if any application for remission is made on his behalf, the same will only be considered on his own merits after serving a 30-year sentence,” he said.

Umesh moved the Supreme Court challenging the Karnataka High Court order passed in September 2021, dismissing his plea for the reversal of the dismissal of his pardon plea due to delay. He also questioned the decision to keep him in joint and several detention since the trial court imposed the death sentence on him in 2006.

The bench noted that in this case, the period of solitary confinement is approximately ten years and has two elements: one, from 2006 until the elimination of the petition for clemency in 2013, and the other from the date of elimination until 2016.

The high court noted that the entire period from March 3, 2011 to May 15, 2013 spanning a period of 2 years and 3 months saw the elimination of the pardon request at two different levels, one by the Governor and the other by the President.

Throughout this time, there was a conditional sentence granted by her on March 19, 2011. If each passing day added to the appellant’s agony…” the Supreme Court said.

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