HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court commuted the death sentence of Palepaka Praveen, the accused in the abduction, rape and murder of a nine-month-old baby in Hanmakonda, Warangal Urban in June. The death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment and that he will be in jail till his last breath, the HC said while upholding the judgement.

Commuting in legal terms mean lessening the severity given for a conviction for a crime. A Warangal court had awarded him the death penalty in August. The accused then moved the HC.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy, observed that convicts should be given a chance to reform while stating that Praveen will not be released from prison till his last breath.

The bench observed that the 25-year-old has never committed a severe crime and that the prosecution had not produced any evidence to show that he is beyond reformation.

Palepaka Praveen, a resident of Hanamkonda in Warangal abducted a nine-month-old bay who was sleeping with her parents on the terrace on June 19. Praveen took the baby to a secluded place and raped her. He was caught red-handedly by the family and neighbours who were searching for the baby. He tried to escape from the place but was caught and handed over to the police.

This incident triggered protests across the state demanding strict action against the accused.

The police booked Praveen under sections 376 (rape), 366 (abduction of a woman) and 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code, and under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

The trial in the case completed in just two months as the police filed charge sheet against the accused collecting all the pieces of evidence along with the CCTV footage. The Warangal court awarded death penalty to the accused after the speedy trial in the court in August.

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