Nine months after it was imposed, a bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and S P Garg set aside the death sentence and the conviction of the accused, relying upon a report of the medical board of Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital.
The court, however, ordered that accused Mohan (name changed) would not be released from jail and his case would be dealt by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
"If we go by the medical opinion, the appellant accused on the said date (August 14, 2007) could be .....a juvenile or less than 18 years when the alleged offence was committed," the bench said.
"We accept the application and hold that the appellant was a juvenile on the date of committal of offence. Accordingly, the conviction and sentence of the appellant is set aside.
"He will be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act. The proceedings are forwarded to Juvenile Justice Board (JJB)....We are not inclined to release the appellant on the jail term undergone," the bench also said while disposing of the state's appeal for confirmation of the death penalty. The trial court had imposed death penalty on Mohan saying he had committed the "brutal and grotesque" offence and was a "menace" to the society.
As per the prosecution, Rohini resident Mohan had lured away his neighbour's six-and-half-year-old daughter on August 14, 2007 night and had raped and sodomised her before brutally battering and strangulating her to death. He had also chopped off one of her forearms to mislead the investigators.
During the hearing of his appeal, Mohan had moved the high court claiming he was a minor at the time of commission of the crime and his conviction was illegal.
On Mohan's plea, the high court had asked the trial judge, who had awarded the death penalty, to conduct an enquiry and ascertain his age.
The judge had filed the report after recording the statements of Mohan's family members as he had no age proof and filed a report declaring him a juvenile.
The bench again on August 4, 2012 constituted a medical board which conducted dental examination and submitted a report concurring with the trial judge's opinion.