Published On : Sun, Aug 23rd, 2015

Death for kidnapping for ransom can’t be dubbed outrageous: Supreme Court


Rising incidents of kidnapping and abduction for ransom not only by ordinary criminals but even by terrorists necessitate a stringent punishment for those indulging in such activities, the Supreme Court has said while upholding death sentence under section 364A of IPC.

“The gradual growth of the challenges posed by kidnapping and abductions for ransom, not only by ordinary criminals for monetary gain or as an organised activity for economic gains but by terrorist organisations is what necessitated the incorporation of Section 364A of the IPC and a stringent punishment for those indulging in such activities.

“Given the background in which the law was enacted and the concern shown by Parliament for the safety and security of the citizens and the unity, sovereignty and integrity of the country, the punishment prescribed for those committing any act contrary to Section 364A cannot be dubbed as so outrageously disproportionate to the nature of the offence as to call for same being declared unconstitutional,” a three-judge bench headed by Justice T S Thakur said.

The apex court’s verdict came on a petition filed by a convict, who was awarded death sentence in a kidnapping-cum -murder case, challenging the constitutional validity of section 364A of IPC.

The court made it clear that “situations where the act which the accused is charged with is proved to be an act of terrorism threatening the very essence of our federal, secular and democratic structure may possibly be the only other situation where courts may consider awarding extreme penalty.

“But, short of death in such extreme and rarest of rare cases, imprisonment for life for a proved case of kidnapping or abduction will not qualify for being described as barbaric or inhuman so as to infringe the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

The apex court concurred with the recommendations of the Law Commission that a separate provision was required keeping in mind the menacing dimensions which terrorist organisations had acquired.

“Section 364A came on the statute book initially in the year 1993 not only because kidnapping and abduction for ransom were becoming rampant and Law Commission had recommended that a separate provision making it punishable be incorporated but also because activities of terrorist organisations had acquired menacing dimensions that called for an effective legal framework…” the bench also comprising justices R K Agrawal and A K Goel said.