Friday, February 16, 2007

SC awards death term to couple

Supreme court awards death term to couple for killing seven of family

J. Venkatesan

Their intention was to grab property worth crores of rupees


  • Bench restores trial court's verdict
  • Says case falls within category of rarest of rare cases
  • Capital punishment not "prohibited"

    New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday awarded death sentence to a couple charged with the murder of seven persons belonging to a family to grab property worth crores of rupees.

    A Bench of Justices B.N. Agrawal and P.P. Naolekar modified the sentence of imprisonment awarded by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and restored the trial court's verdict slapping death sentence on Sonia and her husband Sanjiv of Hissar, Haryana.

    "Very diabolic"

    The Bench said: "It is clearly borne out from the factual matrix of the case on hand that both the accused had an eye on the property of deceased, Relu Ram, which was in crores and to gain full control over the property and to deprive deceased Relu Ram from giving it to anybody else, both the accused have eliminated his whole family."

    Writing the judgment, Mr. Justice Agrawal said "the instant case is one wherein accused Sonia, along with accused Sanjiv [her husband] has not only put an end to the lives of her stepbrother and his whole family, which included three tiny tots of 45 days, 2-1/2 years and 4 years, but also her own father, mother and sister in a very diabolic manner so as to deprive her father from giving the property to her stepbrother and his family."

    "Cold-blooded approach"

    "The fact that the murders in question were committed in such a diabolic manner while the victims were sleeping, without any provocation whatsoever from the victims' side indicates the cold-blooded and pre-meditated approach of the accused to cause the death of the victims. The brutality of the act is amplified by the grotesque and revolting manner in which the helpless victims have been murdered which is indicative of the fact that the act was diabolic of the most superlative degree in conception and cruel in execution and that both the accused persons are not possessed of the basic humanness and completely lack the psyche or mindset which can be amenable for any reformation."

    "Beyond comprehension"

    "If this act is not revolting or dastardly, it is beyond comprehension as to what other act can be so. In view of these facts we are of the view that there would be failure of justice in case death sentence is not awarded in the present case as the same undoubtedly falls within the category of rarest of rare cases and the High Court was not justified in commuting death sentence into life imprisonment."

    Contention rejected

    On the contention of the accused that death penalty would be violative of the right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution, the Bench said "the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which India has acceded in 1979 does not abolish or prohibit the imposition of death penalty in all circumstances. All that it required is that, firstly, death penalty shall not be arbitrarily inflicted; secondly, it shall be imposed only for most serious crimes in accordance with a law, which shall not be an ex post facto legislation."

    © Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu

  • Date:16/02/2007 URL:http://www.thehindu.com/2007/02/16/stories/2007021604531500.htm
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