Supreme Court: Deciding the matter where the question before the 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, R.K. Agrawal and A.K. Goel, JJ was that whether Section 364A inserted in the IPC by Act 42 of 1993 which deals with kidnapping for ranson was ultra vires the Constitution to the extent the same prescribes death sentence for anyone found guilty, the bench held that given the background in which the law was enacted and the concern shown by the Parliament for the safety and security of the citizens and the unity, sovereignty and integrity of the country, the punishment prescribed for those committing any act contrary to Section 364A cannot be dubbed as so outrageously disproportionate to the nature of the offence as to call for the same being declared unconstitutional.
Going into the legislative intent behind the said provision, the Court said that the gradual growth of the challenges posed by kidnapping and abductions for ransom, not only by ordinary criminals for monetary gain or as an organized activity for economic gains but by terrorist organizations is what necessitated the incorporation of Section 364A of the IPC and a stringent punishment for those indulging in such activities.
Stating that judicial discretion is available to Courts to choose one of the two sentences prescribed for such an offence, the Court made it clear that just because the sentence of death is a possible punishment that may be awarded in appropriate cases cannot make it per se inhuman or barbaric so as to infringe the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Vikram Singh v. Union of India, decided on 21.08.2015