On Monday, the Supreme Court set up the five judges bench for hearing the question that whether the opportunity of hearing on sentence granted to death row convict is meaningful for accused or just a formal hearing?

The question is placed before the bench comprised of Chief Justice of India UU Lalit, Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia.

The apex court also in its earlier decisions expressed that the accused should get the real and effective hearing on sentencing with permission to produce material before court necessary for deciding the question over the sentence.

The court further added that if it was seen that the proper opportunity is not provided to the accused over the question of sentencing then the accused can appeal against the sentence or can go for review of sentencing also.

Under section 235 of Criminal Procedure Code its mandate that the accused should produce the material before the court for deciding question of sentencing.

The section 235 of CRPC states that “ If the accused is convicted, the Judge shall, unless he proceeds in accordance with the provisions of section 360, hear the accused on the question of sentence, and then pass sentence on him according to law”.

In Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab, 1980 the court observed that death penalty should be awarded in rarest of the rare cases and the court should properly consider the circumstance before passing the sentence of capital punishment for murder in a case.

The Apex court initiated a suo moto petition titled as “In reframing guidelines regarding potential mitigating circumstances to be considered while imposing death sentence”.

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