The Supreme Court has said that the High Courts are required to give notice to the accused before extending the sentence so that they get an opportunity to defend their case.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai and PS Narasimha set aside the order of the Rajasthan High Court which had awarded life imprisonment to the accused in a murder case.
The top court said that it was the appellants who had challenged their conviction through an appeal before the high court.
It was also noted that the State had not appealed against the order of the Sessions Judge not to award the death sentence to those who appealed.
“There is no doubt that the High Court itself could have exercised the powers of its motion and enhanced the sentence. However, before doing so, the High Court was required to give notice to the appellants. Of course, this has not been done.
“Consequent to the judgment and order of the High Court, the sentence awarded to the appellants has been enhanced, as the appellants should not be allowed to defend their case as to why the enhanced sentence should not be awarded,” the bench said.
The top court was hearing a petition filed by two accused challenging an order of the Rajasthan High Court, which held that the case against the present appellant falls in the category of ‘rare of rare cases.
It is further held that the Trial Court has failed to consider the present case not to fall in the category of ‘rarest of rare cases to award the death sentence.
The High Court had directed that the appellants would have to undergo imprisonment for life for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC.