Donít rely on opinions, no need to import Arab nation laws, SC tells judges

The Supreme Court on Tuesday cautioned judges against venturing into "monstrous legalism" by relying on "erroneous notions of law" while handing out death penalty.

Appalled by a death sentence awarded to an accused in a case of robbery by a judge in Tamil Nadu, a Bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra asked the national and state judicial academies to "educate" judicial officers on how not to get influenced by opinion of any person and rely only on evidence. The Bench held that criminal courts shall not be guided or influenced by the views or opinions expressed by judges on a private platform and that they have to decide the case by examining relevant fact, evidence and by applying binding precedents.

The trial court judge had in 2006 sentenced two persons to death for committing a robbery in June 1995 in Walajapet, Vellore. The judge referred to lynching, beheading, slashing and other such punishments prevalent in America and Arab nations, and noted that the accused had come from a state 2,000 km away from Tamil Nadu and put the people of his state under a fear of life. He relied on statements made by the then chief justice of high court that crimes must meet adequate punishments.

The SC said: "We fail to see why we import the criminal jurisprudence of America or Arab countries to our system? The judges' inclination to bring in alleged system of lynching to India and to show it as special reason is unfortunate and shows lack of exposure to criminal laws of this country. He lost sight of the fact that the criminal jurisprudence of this country or our society does not recognise those types of barbaric sentences," noted the court.

The Bench added, "Learned judge says that they have come to "our state", forgetting the fact that there is nothing like 'our state' or 'your state'. Such parochial attitude shall not influence or sway a judicial mind." The Bench set aside the conviction of the accused in the case.

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