New Delhi, May 13 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a plea of a gangrape convict challenging the constitutional validity of section 376DB of the IPC, a provision enacted after the infamous Nirbhaya case on the ground that it prescribes life imprisonment for the remainder of the natural life.

Section 376DB of the IPC was enacted in the year 2018 which prescribes that if a person is convicted of a gangrape of a minor girl, who is less than 12-years-age, then he shall be punished with imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, and with fine or with death.

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A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant issued notice to the Attorney General on the constitutional challenge on the sentence which has been imposed on the petitioner Nikhil Shivaji Golait.

It said, “The petitioner has been convicted of an offence punishable under section 376DB of IPC and has been sentenced to suffer the remainder of his natural life in imprisonment. Having regards to the finding, there is no merit in the challenge to the conviction”.

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The bench said that on the sentence which has been prescribed, advocate Gaurav Agarwal, appearing for the petitioner, has placed on a record writ petition under Article 32 of the constitution which challenges the imposition of the imprisonment of the remainder of the natural life.

The plea said that the prescription of such life sentences for the offence under section 376DB is unconstitutional, for the reason that it completely takes away the chance of reformation of the individual.

“Reformation is one of the important aspects of sentencing jurisprudence of this country”, it said, adding that there are several judgement where even in cases of rape and murder of minor girl, this court has accepted the fact that there is a chance to reform of the convict and commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment.

The plea filed by Agrawal said that a life sentence for natural life could be a very long sentence of even 40 years or 50 years of imprisonment and thus the said sentence is totally disproportionate to the nature of the offence.

It added that the provision is “manifestly arbitrary” as under section 376AB of IPC when a person is convicted of raping a minor under 12, the minimum life sentence awarded is of 20 years.

Golait was convicted and sentenced along with other accused by the special court (POCSO) Buldhana in Maharashtra for gangrape of a minor on August 13, 2020.PTI MNL MNL

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