Mofil Khan v. State of Jharkhand

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Review Petition – Death Sentence – keeping in mind the gruesome murder of the entire family of their sibling in a pre-planned manner without provocation due to a property dispute, the Petitioners deserve a sentence of a period of 30 years the sentence of death imposed on the Petitioners is converted to life imprisonment for a period of 30 years. [Para 11]

We have examined the socio-economic background of the Petitioners, the absence of any criminal antecedents, affidavits filed by their family and community members with whom they continue to share emotional ties and the certificate issued by the Jail Superintendent on their conduct during their long incarceration of 14 years. Considering all of the above, it cannot be said that there is no possibility of reformation of the Petitioners, foreclosing the alternative option of a lesser sentence and making the imposition of death sentence imperative. Therefore, we convert the sentence imposed on the Petitioners from death to life.

Murder – Putting an end to the lives of innocent minors and a physically infirm child, apart from other members of the family, in a pre-planned attack, held, that the case falls under the category of “rarest of the rare” cases.

Constitution of India – Articles 137, 145 Scope and ambit of the jurisdiction of Supreme Court in hearing review petitions.

Article 137 of the Constitution empowers the Supreme Court to review any judgment pronounced by it, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament or any rules made under Article 145 of the Constitution of India. Order XLVII, Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 provides that the Court may review its own judgment or order, but no application for review will be entertained in a civil proceeding except on the ground mentioned in Order XLVII, Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and in a criminal proceeding except on the ground of an error apparent on the face of the record. Needless to mention that the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 are framed under Article 145 of the Constitution. Order XLVII, Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 is materially the same as Order XL, Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1966.

Order XL, Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1966 limits the grounds for review in criminal proceedings to “errors apparent on the face of the record”. Review is not rehearing of the appeal all over again and to maintain a review petition, it has to be shown that there has been a miscarriage of justice.

An error which is not self-evident and has to be detected by a process of reasoning can hardly be said to be an error apparent on the face of the record justifying the Court to exercise its power of review.

An applicant cannot be allowed to reargue the appeal in an application for review on the grounds that were urged at the time of hearing of the appeal. Even if the applicant succeeds in establishing that there may be another view possible on the conviction or sentence of the accused that is not a sufficient ground for review. This Court shall exercise its jurisdiction to review only when a glaring omission or patent mistake has crept in the earlier decision due to judicial fallibility. There has to be an error apparent on the face of the record leading to miscarriage of justice.

Review petitioners cannot seek re-appreciation of the evidence on record while hearing review petitions.

Death Sentence – Review petitions arising out of appeals affirming the death sentence are required to be heard orally by a three-Judge bench.

Case Law Reference

  1. Mohd. Mannan v. State of Bihar, (2019) 16 SCC 584
  2. Rajendra Pralhadrao Wasnik v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 12 SCC 460
  3. Sudam v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 9 SCC 388
  4. Vikram Singh v. State of Punjab, (2017) 8 SCC 518
  5. Mohd. Arif v. Registrar, Supreme Court of India, (2014) 9 SCC 737
  6. Kamlesh Verma v. Mayavati, (2013) 8 SCC 320
  7. Santosh Kumar Satishbhushan Bariyar v. State of Maharashtra, (2009) 6 SCC 498
  8. Suthendraraja v. State, (1999) 9 SCC 323
  9. P.N. Eswara Iyar v. Registrar, Supreme Court of India, (1980) 4 SCC 680
  10. Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1980) 2 SCC 684
  11. Dalbir Singh v. State of Punjab, (1976) 4 SCC 158
  12. Duli Chand v. Delhi Administration, (1975) 4 SCC 649