Thursday, April 9, 2015

Assam - Reprieve for death row convict- President commutes Jorhat jail prisoner's sentence to life

Saturday , March 28 , 2015 

Jorhat, March 27: The commutation of the death sentence of Bahadur Dewan alias Tote Dewan - a death row convict lodged at the Central Jail Jorhat - to life sentence by President Pranab Mukherjee yesterday has ended the uncertainty in the prisoner's life.

The prisoner had filed a mercy petition before the President almost a year ago. Earlier, a similar mercy petition had remained pending with the Assam governor for eight years, with the then governor J.B. Patnaik rejecting the plea on December 23, 2013. Dewan, 66, had sent his mercy petition to Rashtrapati Bhavan through the jail authorities, who forwarded it to the state home department on February 10, 2014.

Dewan had requested jail officials to assist him in filing the mercy petition to the President, as he has no family and no one has come to the jail to meet him till date, prison sources said. Dewan, who hails from Seshapukhuri Nepali Basti under Morhanhat police station in Sivasagar district, had hacked to death his wife Gouri, 35, sons Rajib, 10, and eight-month-old Kajib, and neighbour Budhimaya Dewan, 60, on September 30, 2002.

He reportedly had a quarrel with his wife the night before and after waking up early next morning, he picked up a dao (machete) and hacked Gouri and their two sons to death. He then knocked on the door of his neighbour Budhimaya and when she opened it, killed her as well. He has been lodged in Central Jail Jorhat since he was shifted from Sivasagar District Jail on April 12, 2004. The death sentence was awarded to him by the Sivasagar district and sessions court on December 26, 2003 followed by confirmation of the sentence by Gauhati High Court on April 28, 2005, and then by the Supreme Court on August 8, 2005.

Central Jail Jorhat, jailor Sanjib Kumar Chetia told The Telegraph that no official communication has been received regarding commutation of the death sentence till late this afternoon. Chetia, however, said based on media reports, the authorities had informed Dewan about the development. "Some prison inmates read about it (commutation) in the newspapers and could have told Dewan, so we thought we should inform him before he comes to know about the matter from inmates," Chetia said. He added that Dewan was told that the official letter in this regard was yet to arrive. The jailor said Dewan, who mostly keeps to himself and hardly speaks with other prisoners, smiled on hearing that he has been spared the gallows.

Chetia said Dewan thanked the jail officials, who had drafted the mercy plea and asked him whether there was any legal option available to him to petition the government to set him free. The jailor had assured him (Dewan) that he would discuss the matter with his senior officials and let him know. Chetia said the death row convict works in the jail garden voluntarily and is very possessive about the flowers. "Dewan's conduct is good and he seldom interacts with jail staff and other inmates," he added. Chetia said Dewan earns Rs 55 a day for working in the jail garden and uses the money to buy necessary items. In his plea to the President, Dewan has said he committed the murders because of an "unsound state of mind" and later surrendered himself to police. "I had no motive to commit such a crime but owing to my mental insanity I could not control my rage. Sir, I have already spent 11 years in jail and I repent my act and assure you I shall never indulge in any kind of confrontation in jail........." Dewan said in his plea.

Source: [last accessed 09 April 2015]

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