New Delhi: The Supreme Court has stayed operation of the death sentence awarded to a man convicted for raping and murdering an 11-year-old girl in Dehradun in 2018.

The apex court, which was hearing an appeal filed by the convict against the January 2020 verdict of the Uttarakhand High Court which had confirmed the death penalty awarded to him by a trial court, directed that psychological evaluation of the appellant be done and its report be placed before it.

Issue notice of lodgment of appeal to the state of Uttarakhand, returnable on May 4, 2022, a bench headed by Justice U U Lalit said.

Pending further consideration, the effect and operation of death sentence awarded to the appellant shall remain stayed. Let an intimation in this regard be sent to the concerned prison immediately, the bench, also comprising Justices S R Bhat and P S Narasimha, said in its March 2 order.

The top court said in order to have complete assistance in the matter, the report of the jail administration concerned about the nature of work done by the appellant while in prison be placed before it by April 25.

We also feel that the interest of justice dictates that we obtain a psychological evaluation of the appellant, it said.

The bench asked the Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh to constitute a team for psychological evaluation of the appellant and send a report by April 25.

The apex court, which posted the matter for further consideration on May 4, said jail authorities shall render complete cooperation in facilitating access and due evaluation of the appellant.

The appellant, Jai Prakash, was convicted by a trial court in August 2019 for offences, including that of rape and murder under the Indian Penal Code and also under the relevant provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

According to the prosecution, an FIR was lodged on a complaint by the victim’s father in July 2018 which said that his daughter was playing with other children when she went missing.

It said when the complainant enquired about his daughter from the other children, he was informed that the accused took her towards his hut.

The complainant had alleged that the victim’s body was found in the hut of the accused, who was a labourer and residing at a construction site.

During the trial, the accused had claimed innocence and said he was falsely implicated in the case.

The high court had said that the prosecution has succeeded in proving that the accused had murdered the helpless victim after committing rape.

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