Press Trust of India | New Delhi April 17, 2014 Last Updated at 19:16 IST
The Delhi High Court today commuted to life term the death sentence awarded to three members of a family for the honour killing of a teen couple in 2010, saying there is a possibility of their reformation. A special bench of justices S Muralidhar and Mukta Gupta acquitted two others - the girl's mother and aunt - who also had been awarded capital punishment by the trial court, saying they were only "spectators" to the crime and did not share the common intention to murder the couple.
"The court is of the opinion that ends of justice would be met if convicted appellants Om Prakash and Suraj are awarded the sentence of imprisonment for life which will not be less than 20 years actual. Since, appellant Sanjeev is a young man who was not married, the court considers it fit to sentence him to imprisonment of life subject to remissions.... "Appellants Maya (mother) and Khushboo (aunt) are acquitted of the offences with which they were charged," the bench said.
It said, "The two ladies could be at best be said to be spectators to what was being done by the three men in the house. "No doubt, as a mother and aunt there was an omission on their part to have not saved at least Asha, their daughter. However, the said omission does not qualify the test that they shared the common intention with the three men to commit the murder....," the high court said. Defence lawyer Sumeet Verma had argued that in the absence of an overt act being attributed to Khushboo and Maya, they cannot be convicted for offence of murder on the ground that they shared a common intention to commit the crime.
The court reduced to life term the death sentence awarded to the girl's father, uncle and cousin brother - Suraj, Om Prakash and Sanjeev respectively - saying there is no material placed on record by the State to show they cannot be reformed or are a menace to the society. "Although there are aggravating circumstances, there is no material placed on record by the State to show that the appellants Om Prakash, Suraj and Sanjeev are persons who cannot be reformed or are a menace to the society.... "Thus, this court is of the considered opinion that the penalty of death cannot be awarded to convicted appellants," the bench said.
Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/hc-commutes-death-penalty-to-life-in-honour-killing-case/ [accessed 24 April 2014]