SC: Psychological Evaluation of Convicts Awarded Death Sentences is Essential

Prison Arrest Jail law insider

Bhuvana Marni

Published on: October 29, 2022 at 13:36 IST

The Supreme Court of India reiterated the importance of conducting a psychological evaluation of convicts awarded death sentences.

“However, we are of the view that the assessment as regards the conduct of the accused if made before the final submissions are advanced, will go a long way in rendering assistance…”

“…In a series of death sentence cases, this Court has been passing certain directions so that psychological evaluation of the concerned convict can be ascertained”, a Bench of Chief Justice UU Lalit, Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi observed.

The Bench was evaluating two appeals filed by two convicts who were contesting the orders challenging their death sentences.

In 2020, the appeals were admitted, and the petitioner’s death sentence execution was stayed.

Given that the appellant(s) had been given a death sentence, the Bench’s analysis of the current case concluded that “touching upon the character and behaviour of the appellant(s) would be essential in order to have complete assessment”.

The court also took notice of the IAs filed on behalf of the appellant(s) asking for permission to grant a mitigation investigator access to them.

Keeping the IAs in mind, the Bench passed the following directions:

  • The respondent–State to place all Report(s) of all the Probation Officer(s) relating to the accused before the next date of hearing.
  • Report of the Jail Administration relating to the nature of the work done by the appellant(s) while in jail to be placed before this Court before the next date of hearing.
  • The interest of justice also demands that we obtain a psychological evaluation of the appellant(s). The Director/Head, Dr. Vasantrao Pawar Medical College Hospital & Research Centre, Nashik, Maharashtra, is directed to constitute a suitable team for psychological evaluation of the accused/appellant(s) in these cases and send a report before the next date of hearing.
  • The Jail Authorities, Central Jail, Nashik, where the appellant(s) is presently lodged, to render complete co-operation in facilitating access to and due evaluation of the appellant(s) in all respects.

Ms. Katherine Deborah Joy and Ms. Baljeet Kaur, who is associated with Project 39-A of the National Law University, Delhi, are allowed to have access to the appellant(s) Prakash Vishwanath Darandale and Ramesh Vishwanath Darandale respectively, who is presently lodged in Central Jail, Nashik, to submit an appropriate Report to this Court.

In the second week of February 2023, the matter will be heard for final disposal.

The National Law University of Delhi’s Project 39A provided the convict with legal assistance.

Project 39A’s Shivani Misra and the State’s Siddharth Dharmadhikari both spoke in court.

Case Title: Prakash Vishwanath Darandale v/s The State of Maharashtra

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