Chhanu Lal Verma v. The State of Chattigarh

The Apex Court held that the High Court has erroneously confirmed death penalty without correctly applying the law laid down in Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, Machi Singh v. State of Punjab, Santosh Bariyar v. State of Maharashtra and Shankar Kisanrao Khade v. State of Maharashtra. As per the Supreme Court “The standard set by the ‘rarest of rare’ test in Bachan Singh (supra) is a high standard. The conduct of the convict in prison cannot be lost sight of. The fact that the prisoner has displayed good behaviour in prison certainly goes on to show that he is not beyond reform. In the matter of probability and possibility of reform of a criminal, we do not find that a proper psychological/psychiatric evaluation is done. Without the assistance of such a psychological/psychiatric assessment and evaluation it would not be proper to hold that there is no possibility or probability of reform. The State has to bear in mind this important aspect while proving by evidence that the convict cannot be reformed or rehabilitated. Another aspect that has been overlooked by the High Court is the procedural impropriety of not having a separate hearing for sentencing at the stage of trial. A bifurcated hearing for conviction and sentencing was a necessary condition laid down in Santosh Bariyar (supra). By conducting the hearing for sentencing on the same day, the Trial court has failed to provide necessary time to the appellant to furnish evidence relevant to sentencing and mitigation.”

For the abovementioned reasons, the imposition of death sentence was commuted to imprisonment for life.