New Delhi, May 13 : The Supreme Court has sought response from the Centre on a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the Indian Penal Code’s Section 376DB, which prescribes life imprisonment for the remainder of the convict’s natural life as the minimum sentence.
The plea, filed through advocate Gaurav Agarwal, said: “It is submitted that life sentence for natural life can be a very long sentence of even 40 years or 50 years of imprisonment (or even more). The said sentence is totally disproportionate to the nature of offence which is alleged against the convict.”
It also contended that the prescription of such life sentence for the offence under Section 376DB is unconstitutional, for the reason that it completely takes away the chance of reformation of the individual.
The plea has been filed by Nikhil Shivaji Golait, who was convicted under Section 376DB of IPC and awarded life sentence by the Bombay High Court. “The sentence provided under Section 376DB of IPC is violative of Articles 14& 21, of the Constitution, as the sentence is not proportionatea..and totally ignores the convict,” it added.
After hearing arguments, a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant issued notice to the Centre.
The plea contended that under Section 376AB of IPC, a person convicted of rape of a girl of less than 12 years of age is awarded maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment. “Simply 2 persons are involved in offence of rape of minor girl less than 12 years, the sentence which is imposed under 376DB of IPC is totally disproportionate in as much as person can be inside the prison for 40 years or 50 years, if not more. Thus, the provision suffers from manifest arbitrariness,” it added.
The plea argued that in many cases of a person convicted of raping a minor girl, courts have commuted their death sentence to life imprisonment which runs to 20, 25, or 30 years. However, 376 DB of IPC mandates that the convict has to remain in custody for the entire life — which can be either 50 years or 60 years or even more – which totally negates the offender from the sentencing provisions that makes the punishment unconstitutional.
“It takes away the balancing factors which are necessary for a just and fair sentence,” it said.