Abhinav Garg, TNN | Mar 3, 2015, 05.51AM IST
NEW DELHI: A man on death row whose plea has been rejected both by the President of India and the Supreme Court got a reprieve on Monday, when the Delhi high court stayed his hanging. Admitting the plea of Sonu Sardar, awarded capital punishment by SC for wiping out a family of five in Chhattisgarh, a bench of Justices Sanjeev Khanna and Ashutosh Kumar stayed the punishment till April 7, the next date of hearing. He is currently lodged in Death cell in a Raipur jail awaiting execution.
The court also issued notice to the Centre seeking its reply to the allegation that there is "undue and avoidable delay" of two years and two months in rejecting Sardar's mercy plea by the President of India. Seeking commutation of death sentence to life term, the petition, filed by advocates Rishabh Sancheti and Ashish V. Padmapriya says the convict was kept in illegal solitary confinement in jail leading to "mental agony and torture of a kind that is difficult to imagine or conceptualize." It adds that "for each day after the sentence of death was confirmed by the Supreme Court, and while his mercy petition was pending before the Governor of Chhattisgarh and the President of India, the petitioner and his family have undergone a living hell not knowing if he would live or die, and if he would live to see another day or draw another breath, or whether that day and that breath would be his last."
Appearing for the death row inmate, senior advocate Indira Jaisingh highlighted the fact that he has been living under the shadow of the hangman's noose with the threat of imminent death hanging over his head for more than two years and two months. "During the time his petition was pending, Sardar suffered excruciating pain, mental agony and torture. Such pain and torment is a punishment far worse than death. This mental agony has wreaked havoc on the physical, mental and emotional health of the petitioner, which is avoidable, needless and unjustified," the counsel contended. Sardar has also blamed the State government of Chhattisgarh, the Centre and the President of India for the delay, arguing he had no part in the "excessive and unjustified delay."
Last month SC had dismissed Sardar's plea seeking a review of its 2012 verdict upholding his death sentence for "ruthlessly killing" five members of a scrap dealer's family in Chhatisgarh. The court dismissed the plea after holding a detailed hearing of the matter in open court. Sardar along with Ajay Singh and three more people killed Shamim Akhtar, a scrap dealer and four members of his family. In 2012 the apex court, while upholding Sardar's death sentence, had said: "Five members of a family including two minor children and the driver were ruthlessly killed by the use of a knife, an axe and an iron rod and with the help of four others. The crime was obviously committed after pre-meditation with absolutely no consideration for human lives and for money."
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/HC-stays-hanging-of-man-who-wiped-out-family-of-five/articleshow/46438005.cms [last accessed on 04.03.2015]