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Accused ‘X’ Vs State of Maharashtra
(Decided on April 12, 2019) 

Bhavit Baxi & Priyanka Cholera
M.K.E.S College of Law, Mumbai
Maharashtra, India

Volume II – Issue II, 2019

The new era of recognition of mental-illness of prisoners has commenced with this judgment. With the Supreme Court allowing commutation of Death sentence to Life imprisonment of convicts suffering from mental-illness under exceptional circumstances. Seventeen years before the cognizance of court in this matter, the petitioner has suffered long incarceration as a death row convict, which resulted severe mental-illness such Schizophrenia or Some type of Psychosis. The judgment further issued guidelines to be followed in future cases. In addition to the immediate effect this judgment might have, it future holds interesting outcome of similar cases. Moreover in a country like India where 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health issues, the apex court does directly convey it’s message regarding the importance of mental health and illnesses. Usually criminals are seen as cruel and a threat to society, however they’re humans at the end of the day who found themselves in unfortunate circumstances and couldn’t think beyond the temptation of the moment. It doesn’t call for life Time of cruelty. And in our staunch opinion, it is not unfair to victims as the person convicted is given what he deserves, death comes to all regardless of their activities and post conviction mental illnesses are due to several factors being afraid of death is just one of them Criminals are without a doubt threat to society, they’re harmful, but their activities do not exclude their families. A person who is already suffering for his deeds should not pay more for problems caused by circumstances. Even when their capital punishment is reversed, mental illnesses like schizophrenia, depression, PTSD last a lifetime if not treated well. Even with proper therapy the results cannot be guaranteed. Lastly The right to dignity of an accused does not dry out with the judges ink, rather it subsists well beyond the prison gates and operates until last breath. This classic judgment upholds right to dignified life, which is corner stone of our constitution.

 

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