Directions for training judicial officers were issued by the High Court of Patna, while exercising discretion in the process of sentencing, specifically, in the Sessions Trial. The court also observed that criminal jurisprudence of sentencing relies on balancing the interests of individuals, the society and the State.
The process of sentencing people is a delicate matter that necessitates the application of the constitutional mandate of the rule of law. The bench that considered this matter comprised of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Anil Kumar Upadhyay who directed the formulating of a course which will consist of training on balancing of aggravating and mitigating circumstances along with balancing of individual life with personal liberty with regard to the security of society, for all judicial officers.
This order was passed with reference to a case whereby the convict was sentenced to death under Sec. 27(3) of the Arms Act. This was declared as the most disturbing part of the sentence by the High court as in the case of State of Punjab v. Dalbar Singh (2013), the Supreme Court declared this particular provision of the Act that stipulates mandatory death sentence, as being ultra vires and void.
The Court also noted that despite the principle of the rarest of the rare cases and the insertion of specific provision of Sec. 354(3) in the Code of Criminal procedure, the trial courts are still making use of the provision of death penalty as a rule.
The Court also noted that the Sessions Court are not only supposed to do mere lip- service but also have to apply their minds judiciously, while following the guidelines laid down by the Apex Court keeping in mind the gravity of awarding a death sentence that involves the competing interests of individuals and the society at large, and handle the matter delicately, in accordance with the law.
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Link for the Judgement: State of Bihar v. Onkar Nath Singh