SC declares only death penalty for killing after rape unconstitutional

High Court building. -- New Age file photo

The Appellate Division on Tuesday declared unconstitutional three provisions of a repealed law that had provided only death penalty for the people who were found guilty of killing women and children after raping them. A four-judge bench headed by the chief justice, SK Sinha, also declared unconstitutional another provision of the existing Women and Children Repression (Prevention) act 2000 that had allowed prosecutions, trials of people, who were earlier accused or sentenced to death for the offences while the 1995 act was in force. The amended act of 2000 provided that people, who would be found guilty for killings of women and children after being raped, would be sentenced to death or imprisoned for life or fined of Tk one lakh. The apex court came up with the decision after allowing an appeal preferred by Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust in April 2010 challenging the High Court’s March 2, 2010 verdict that only declared unconstitutional section 6 (2) of the 1995 law—one of the three provisions which was also declared unconstitutional on the appeal. The Appellate Division’s short order, however, did not say anything on the other part of the appeal that had sought cancellation of a death sentence upheld by the High Court to a minor boy Shukur Ali, who was tried and convicted on July 12, 2001 under the 1995 law. The short order pronounced by the chief justice said that the court commuted one out of the 11 appeals filed earlier against their death sentences awarded by the trial court under the 1995 act. The rest appeals were disposed of, said the chief justice. BLAST lawyer MI Farooqui told New Age that the on the going trial proceedings and the appeals preferred by death-row convicts against their sentences in the 1995 law can be continued as per the observations supposed to be made in the full verdict on the issue. Attorney general Mahbubey Alam told reporters that the government will be needed to amend existing Women and Children Repression (Prevention) act 2000 in accordance with the SC directives for resuming proceedings of the 1995 cases.

Source: New Age