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The idea behind this blog is to collect information on the death penalty in India and make it accessible. We are trying our best to put the latest information on the people who are currently on death row, the status of their cases, their mercy petitions and also the information on any death sentence across the country. Please feel free to write us and give us your suggestions and comments and also any information you have come across regarding the death penalty in India. Our email id is abolishdeathpenaltyindia@gmail.com The blog is currently managed by Grace Pelly, Lara Jesani, Nitu Sanadhya, Rebecca Gonsalvez, Reena Mary George and Vijay Hiremath. Kindly mark copies of the emails to: vijayhiremath@gmail.com reena.mary.george@univie.ac.at

Friday, November 15, 2013

Man gets death for killing woman


A Selvaraj, TNN | Nov 14, 2013, 07.09 AM IST CHENNAI: A shop owner who killed a 65-year-old woman for her jewellery and hid her body in a freezer box was sentenced to death by a court in Poonamallee on Wednesday, more than two years after the ghastly killing. The murder came to light more than a month later when the body was recovered from the shop in Maduravoyal. Third additional sessions court judge R Ravindra Bose also imposed a seven-year jail term on the accused, V Muthuselvam, 26, for trying to kill another woman. According to the prosecution, Muthuselvam, a resident of Nerkundram, had a provision store on Patel Road in Maduravoyal. After he incurred huge losses in operating a chit fund and constructing a house for himself, he devised a plan to snatch gold from elderly women. The victim, R Jayalakshmi, came to the shop for some provisions on February 22, 2011 and he gave her some coins as change after she paid for the items she bought. He asked her to come into the shop and count the coins. When she entered, he gagged her and slit her throat with a knife. He then put the body in a gunny bag and dumped it inside a freezer box. Muthuselvam thought he would dispose of the body later and returned home. Police recovered the body 37 days later, after some of the neighbours complained of foul smell emanating from Muthuselvam's shop. In the meanwhile, Muthuselvam tried to kill his neighbour Bhavani, 24, and snatch her chain on March 11, 2011. Bhavani escaped and lodged a police complaint, based on which he was arrested. "When the Maduravoyal police recovered Jayalakshmi's body from the freezer box at Muthuselvam's shop, he was in Puzhal prison for attacking and snatching gold jewellery from Bhavani," Koyambedu assistant commissioner of police S Senthil Kumaran told TOI. The then investigating officer, inspector P Sahadevan of Maduravoyal police station, questioned Muthuselvam in connection with Jayalakshmi's murder after taking him into custody. Based on his confession, police recovered the stolen gold jewellery pledged at a private finance firm. "This is the first time in a decade that a murder accused is getting the death sentence in the city. The judge reviewed all evidences produced by the enforcement agency before awarding the punishment," public prosecutor Andaman K Murugan told TOI. Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Man-gets-death-for-killing-woman/articleshow/25732436.cms?intenttarget=no [accessed on 15th Nov 2013]

Friday, November 1, 2013

Man sentenced to death for Haridwar rape, double murder


D S Kunwar, TNN | Nov 1, 2013, 04.14 AM IST DEHRADUN: A court on Thursday awarded capital punishment to a 26-year-old man in a case of rape and double murder in Haridwar district's Manglaur town. The additional district judge's court found Wajid Ali guilty of kidnapping a 13-year-old girl from her residence in Manglaur, raping her in a nearby village, poisoning her to death and also causing her grandmother's death by running his car over the woman on February 19. The court said since the case belonged to the rarest of rare category, the culprit deserved to be accorded a punishment not less than the death penalty. It said the manner in which Ali crushed the teenage girl's grandmother, 65-year-old Momin, to death was most inhuman and brutal. Momin had been grappling with Ali to prevent him from kidnapping her granddaughter. The cases against Ali were registered based on the statement made by the teenager before the police a couple of minutes before her death.

Monday, October 14, 2013

There is class bias in awarding death penalty

Harsh Mander, Hindustan Times October 13, 2013 Last Updated: 23:22 IST(13/10/2013) Last winter, two men were hanged to death in India’s jails, indicted for crimes of terror. On August 8, another man, Maganlal Barela— a little-known tribal cultivator, charged with killing his five little daughters — was scheduled to hang in the Jabalpur Central Jail. Human rights lawyers chanced to read of his hanging in an online news item the evening before his execution was fixed, and rushed to meet Supreme Court Chief Justice P Sathasivam. The chief justice agreed to hear them that evening and concurred that even after the president rejects the mercy petition of a death row convict, there is one more legal remedy: to challenge this rejection in the Supreme Court. Barela was too poor to afford a lawyer in the higher courts but for the team of committed human rights lawyers — Yug Chaudhary, Siddhartha and Colin Gonsalves — and the stay granted by Justice Sathasivam, he would have been sent to the gallows. There are many reasons I oppose his death penalty. The gravity of his crime is not one of them, nor the merits of the judgment holding him guilty. My consideration is the class bias of capital punishment. It can hardly be a coincidence that the majority of the 414 people who faced the gallows in India as of the end of 2012 are impoverished, dependent at best on legal aid lawyers. I recently visited Barela’s family living on the outskirts of a tribal Barela hamlet outside Kaneria village in Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh. Their crumbling home, the sickly pallor of their children’s skin and hair, and their gaunt frames and tired faces testify to lives of unrelenting struggle and want. Barela’s brothers and two wives said that the only months in which food is secure are those that follow the occasional good monsoon, when they live on what they grow on their acre of dry-land. At other times, they await uncertain daily-wage employment from the forest department, or gather firewood in the forests and sell them. After the crime, Barela’s brothers pooled Rs. 5,000 and hired a local lawyer. Once he was convicted in the trial court, they had no further idea about the progress of the case, until they abruptly received notice of his hanging. Barela was represented by legal aid lawyers who never met them. The Supreme Court refused to even admit his petition — let alone hear it on merits — with a single line order. I am convinced that his fate could have been different if he was represented by a high-profile lawyer. Just the few hours we spent in the village threw up many possible arguments which could have been made, if not for his innocence, at least to mitigate his inclusion in the ‘rarest of the rare’ cases meriting the highest penalty of death. There was, first, his manifest abject poverty. Also, not just his wives and brothers, but other villagers testified to his affable nature, the absence of any history of violence and crime, and that he loved his daughters dearly. Villagers said that his behaviour changed dramatically four months before the grisly offence. He suddenly became withdrawn and quiet, and would wander alone for hours in the forests. Villagers explained this as black magic. A more convincing explanation could be of mental illness, perhaps a temporary breakdown because he could not make ends meet. He is receiving psychiatric medication in the Jabalpur prison. The threshold of insanity required if courts are to declare a person innocent is very high. But if evidence from villagers and neighbours suggesting mental illness could have been brought before the courts, could this not have persuaded the courts to at least not hang him? Additionally, the case against Barela is based on circumstantial evidence, as there are no eye-witnesses to the crime. In a similar case in which a man killed his children, the apex court recently awarded reprieve from capital punishment partly on grounds of the mitigating circumstances of “poverty, socio-economic, psychic compulsions and undeserved adversities in life”. In the infamous tandoor case, a Bench headed by the chief justice observed that this was not a ‘crime against society’, and the appellant had no criminal antecedents. All these same arguments could equally apply to Barela’s case. If only Barela’s family could have afforded effective legal representation in the trial and higher courts, it is possible that the trial court’s sentence could have been less severe, and the higher courts could have come to similar conclusions about mitigating circumstances. Are we then actually hanging Barela only because of his crime of being poor? There are also larger philosophical questions about why a society chooses to execute those who violate human and social morality. Is our motivation to prevent further crimes? Do we credibly believe that the next time a father is driven to consider murdering his own children — in a moment of intense rage, despair or madness — he will be deterred only because of the possibility that he may be hanged to death? Barela’s brother says he tried to hang himself after the killing of his daughters, and was saved only because his brother cut the rope in time. Or is our objective in seeking capital punishment actually of retribution, to take the life of a person who outrages and violates what we cherish: in this case a murderous father? It is evident that persons most directly violated by the crime — the mothers of the five girls who were killed— have forgiven him for what the courts have found him guilty. They recalled to us how he was an affectionate father and a kind husband, how he loved his children, and that he never raised a hand on any of them before that horrific day. Their fields lie fallow; their older son has had to drop out of school and instead grazes cattle. “We only wish he could return home and take care of his family”, his wives say. If they can forgive him, can we not? Harsh Mander is Director, Centre for Equity Studies The views expressed by the author are personal Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/editorial-views-on/ColumnsOthers/There-is-class-bias-in-awarding-death-penalty/Article1-1134733.aspx#.UluZ33Sg5yA.email [accessed 14th October 2013]

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Man gets death penalty for rape-murder of 8-year-old

Nitesh Kumar Sharma, TNN | Oct 2, 2013, 05.05 AM IST

JAIPUR: The district court in Rajsamand on Tuesday awarded death penalty to a man for raping and murdering an eight-year-old girl nine months ago.

Sessions judge Chandra Shekhar said the 24-year old convict, Manoj Pratap Singh, had committed the ghastly act of "brutally killing a helpless and mentally challenged" child after raping her.

"Manoj is a bolt on the society and the humanity at large. He deserved to be punished with the capital punishment," the judge said in a packed courtroom.

The prosecution presented 25 witnesses and 51 supporting documents including a DNA report during the trial which began after police filed chargesheet on February 4 this year.

After the capital punishment was announced, people busted fire crackers in Kankroli town where the incident took place and nearby Rajsamand town.

Manoj Pratap Singh was a vehicle-lifter and a petty criminal before he abducted the girl from the vegetable cart of her parents on January 17 this year. The girl was mentally challenged.

"Manoj, who belongs to UP, used to live in a rented accommodation near the girl's house in Kankroli. The girl's father is a vegetable vendor. Manoj used to buy vegetables from him," said public prosecutor Pradeep Kumar.

On January 17, the girl was with her parents and grandfather at the vegetable cart when Manoj walked to her and offered her chocolate. He tried to take away the girl, but the parents protested.

"He returned on a bike after 10 minutes and abducted the girl around 6.30 pm. The parents and some others tried to chase Manoj, but he disappeared," the lawyer said.

Manoj bought some beer bottles from a liquor shop on the way and took her to an isolated place in Dhondara area and raped her. He then repeatedly hit her head with a stone lying on the road and dumped her body into a pit in Kamal Talai area.

Meanwhile, the parents who knew Manoj informed the police. Several teams launched a search. He was found around 1 am on January 18.

"He had come to the bus stand to get a mobile recharge coupon and leave the town later. After interrogation, he led the police to place where he had dumped the girl's body," said the lawyer.

As no lawyer agreed to represent him, the court had to appoint a lawyer. "There were several evidences against Manoj. The semen swabs lifted from the girl's clothes and private parts matched with Manoj's DNA. Besides, his clothes having stains of girl's blood were also recovered. There were several eye-witnesses who saw him abducting the girl," said the lawyer.

While Manoj broke into tears after coming out of the courtroom on Tuesday, a crowd of nearly 150 people, mostly locals, clapped and congratulated each-other.



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pune Bakery blast main accused Himayat Baig is innocent, says Bhatkal

Krishna Kumar  New Delhi, September 5, 2013 | UPDATED 22:03 IST

Mohammed Ahmed Sidibappa, alias Yasin Bhatkal has reportedly told interrogators that Himayat Baig the man who is been accussed of being involved in Pune's German Bakery blast and who has been recently sentenced to death was innocent and that he was not involved in the conspiracy. Bhatkal has claimed that it he was him and Qateel Siddiqui who engineered the blasts and not Baig, Bhatkal's claim has not surprised those who know the reality of how the Maharashtra ATS has been conducting its investigations in sensational cases.

Since the time it was formed the Maharashtra ATS has been known for only one thing botching up its investigations and ending up with egg on its face. Take for instance the July 11, 2006 serial blasts in Mumbai's local trains. The ATS arrested a number of accussed in the case, one of them was Shabbir Ahmed Masiullah alias Batterywala. How the Anti Terrorist Squad conducts its investigations can be gauged from the fact that one month later when a series of bomb explosions rocked Malegaon on September 8, the ATS showed Batterywala to be involved in the Malegaon blast. So according to the ATS Batterywala was involved in the Mumbai serial blasts in trains for which he was arrested and then some how he was involved in executing the Malegaon 2006 blasts.

Incidentally the nine accussed alleged to be involved in the 2006 Malegaon blasts who were arrested by the ATS have been found by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to have no links with the blasts case and the agency has hence not opposed their discharge applications.

This has not been the only blooper, there are much doubts as to whether the ATS has caught the right suspects in the Mumbai serial train blasts too. The ATS arrested 11 accussed in the July 11, train blasts however in 2008 the case took a new turn after the Mumbai Crime Branch busted a module of the Indian Mujahideen. The Crime Branch arrested one Sadiq Shaikh along with his accomplices who told the police that it was the IM that was involved in the 2006 train blasts and not those arrested. The disclosure caused much embarrassment because it was not the defence lawyer but the investigation of another law enforcement agency that expressed doubts about who actually created the 2006 blasts.

While Yasin Bhatkal has absolved Baig now after he has been sentenced, there were doubts as to his role in the blasts even prior to his trial. None other than the DIG of Police Ravindra Kadam (ATS) who was investigating the case publicly said that Baig was not in Pune on the day of the blasts. This when the ATS was all along claiming that he along with Bhatkal had planted the bomb in the German Bakery. A day later however Kadam claimed that he was not aware of Baig's exact role. Interestingly the cell phone records show that Baig was in Aurangabad when the Pune bomb went off. When Baig was sentenced to hang by the trial court, he pleaded before the judge that he was not guilty, " In the German Bakery blast 17 innocent people were killed. Now one more innocent person is being victimised. I am the 18th victim of the blast. To render justice to the victims of the blast it would be inappropriate to punish another innocent person.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Are we carving out separate jurisdiction for death row prisoners, SC asks

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN Aug 9, 2013, 02.56AM IST
NEW DELHI: In a midnight order, the Supreme Court stopped Jabalpur jail authorities hours before they were to take Maganlal to the gallows on Thursday to execute the capital punishment given to him for hacking to death his five daughters, the eldest of whom was just six years, in Madhya Pradesh's Sehore district.
NGO 'People's Union for Democratic Rights' through senior advocate Colin Gonsalves swung into action late on Wednesday evening after the TOI website reported Maganlal's imminent execution in Jabalpur central jail and moved Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, who held court at his residence close to midnight and ordered the authorities to put the scheduled execution on hold till Thursday.
On Thursday, sitting with Justice Ranjana Desai, Justice Sathasivam extended the stay on Maganlal's execution till further orders after Gonsalves doubted whether authorities had intimated the convict's family about the President's July 22 decision to reject his mercy plea.

Though the apex court has always acted in favour of right to life, a recent spate of petitions filed at the eleventh hour seeking stay of execution after rejection of mercy petitions by the President forced the bench of Justices Sathasivam and Desai to wonder aloud, "Are we creating a separate post-mercy rejection jurisdiction?"

There was a reason for the CJI to express his nuanced thoughts, because death warrants are issued against a condemned prisoner only after he goes through all tiers of judicial remedy - appeal in the high court, then in Supreme Court and following it up with review and curative petitions - to challenge the death sentence imposed on him by the trial court which awards capital sentence after finding the heinous crime fitting into the SC-devised 'rarest of rare' category.

In a similar late evening sitting on April 6 at the residence of Justice Sathasivam, he along with Justice MY Eqbal had stayed the execution of eight persons whose mercy pleas had been rejected. There too, PUDR was the public interest petitioner for the death row prisoners.

During the April 6 hearing, the bench of Justices Sathasivam and Eqbal had said it was entertaining the petition to ascertain whether proper communication had been sent to the relatives of these condemned prisoners whose mercy pleas had been rejected.

"It should not happen as it happened in the Jammu and Kashmir case (Afzal Guru's hanging). The intimation of the execution reached the relatives of the person (Afzal) after his hanging. That is bad. The relatives lost an opportunity to meet the condemned prisoner for one last time before his execution," the bench had said.

Gonsalves picked up the thread from the April 6 hearing and on Thursday argued before the bench of Justices Sathasivam and Desai that "no communication appears to have been sent to the family of Maganlal after the rejection of his mercy plea". The court allowed PUDR's lawyers - Rishabha Sancheti, Yug Mohit Chaudhry and Puja Sharma - to meet the family of the condemned prisoner and ascertain facts.

A trial court had on February 3, 2011, found Maganlal guilty of beheading his daughters Jamuna (1), Phool Kanwar (2), Aarti (4), Savita (5) and Leela (6) with an axe following a dispute over property with his two wives on June 11, 2010. The high court upheld the trial court decision seven months later and the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal on January 9 last year. 

Source: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-08-09/india/41236594_1_mercy-petitions-mercy-plea-execution [accessed 12th August 2013]

Supreme Court stays execution of Maganlal

J. Venkatesan
Published: August 8, 2013 04:05 IST | Updated: August 8, 2013 15:59 IST 
 
The Supreme Court on Thursdayextended until further orders its stay of the execution of Maganlal Barela , who was sentenced to death for beheading his five daughters after an argument with his two wives. 

On Wednesday night the Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam passed an interim order of stay of executionat his residence around 11.30 pm after senior counsel Colin Gonsalves approached him with a plea to suspend the execution scheduled for Thursday morning. 

Today during the resumedhearing before a bench of CJI and Justice Ms Ranjana Desai, counsel Colin Gonsalves submitted that the President didn't communicate the rejection of the mercy petition to the convict and he did not know when the mercy petition was rejected. He said there was no transparent and fair procedure in disposal of mercy petition. 

The CJI said, " slowly we are creating one more jurisdiction after the Supreme Court dismisses the criminal appeal and the President rejects the mercy petition."However the bench directed the present petition filed by People's Union for Democratic Rights on behalf of the convict to be listed along with a batch of other petitions to be heard by a constitution bench which will determine questions relating to delay in disposal of mercy petitions by the President and connected issues.

Last month, the Sehore District and Sessions Court issued a black warrant for Mr. Barela’s execution after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his clemency petition last month. His plea to commute his sentence to life imprisonment had been rejected by the High Court and the Supreme Court. Barela killed his five daughters, aged 1 to 6, with an axe in the village of Kaneria on June 11, 2010. He tried to hang himself after the crime, but was unsuccessful. 

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/supreme-court-stays-execution-of-maganlal/article5001475.ece?homepage=true&ref=relatedNews [accessed 12th August 2013]