Friday, May 2, 2014

HC commutes death penalty of 3

Abhinav Garg,TNN | May 2, 2014, 03.32 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Despite the brutality of the crime committed by them, Delhi high court has commuted the death sentence of three people accused of murder based on their conduct in jail and the possibility of reform. 

A division bench of justices S Muralidhar and Mukta Gupta commuted the death penalty awarded to a man and his relatives for killing the man's wife saying the case did not fall in the "rarest of the rare category" warranting capital punishment. 

"The nominal roll of the three accused shows that their conduct in jail is satisfactory thus far. None of them were previous offenders. More importantly there was no material whatsoever placed by the state before the trial court or this court which would help conclude that the three accused are likely to commit a crime in the future or are incapable of being reformed," the bench noted while reducing the punishment. 

The high court also faulted the trial court for ignoring mitigating circumstances and said the court appears to have taken note essentially of the fact that an innocent, helpless woman has been murdered in a very brutal manner. "The trial court has not analyzed the role of each of the accused and the mitigating factors vis-a-vis each of them," it added saying it is "not persuaded to hold that the crime can be characterized as a 'rarest of rare' case". 

The bench commuted the death sentence of Surender Singh, his brother Narender Singh and their mother Lakhpati Devi. They have been accused of killing Urmila, Surender's wife. Appearing for the prosecution, additional public prosecutor Varun Goswamy had submitted that the murder fell in the category of "rarest of rare" case as a helpless woman was murdered by the three accused in the "most brutal and dastardly manner". 

However, the bench said, "Unless the court is satisfied that there are absolutely no mitigating circumstances and that the case falls under the category of 'rarest of rare', it should not award the death sentence." 

Urmila was murdered by her husband and two relatives on the intervening night of October 15/16, 2007 in front of her three children after she demanded that a piece of land be transferred in her childrens' name.

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