SC ad­mits er­ror, com­mutes death sen­tence to life

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Front Page - AmitA­nand.Choud­hary

New Delhi: More than eight years after award­ing death penalty to a man for killing his wife and four chil­dren, in­clud­ing a 10-month old baby, in Ma­ha­rash­tra, the Supreme Court found fault in its ver­dict re­gard­ing the sever­ity of the of­fence to jus­tify the ex­treme pun­ish­ment and com­muted his sen­tence to im­pris­on­ment for life.

After re-ex­am­in­ing ev­i­dence, a bench of Jus­tices N V Ra­mana, M M Shan­tanagoudar and Indira Ban­er­jee held that the apex court, while de­liv­er­ing its ver­dict in 2011, had com­mit­ted two er­rors — first by wrongly re­ly­ing upon un­ver­i­fied ex­tra-ju­di­cial con­fes­sion made by the con­vict to his for­mer wife, and se­condly, by hold­ing that he had crushed the face of his wife even when there was no med­i­cal ev­i­dence to sup­port such a con­clu­sion.

The three-judge court held that cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence was strong enough to con­vict the ac­cused, but ruled that ex­treme pun­ish­ment of death was not jus­ti­fied.

The apex court had in 2011 up­held or­ders of trial court and the Bom­bay HC to award him death sen­tence for killing his wife and four chil­drenin 2007 in Nanded in Ma­ha­rash­tra.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, the con­vict was hav­ing an ex­tra mar­i­tal re­la­tion­ship which led to fre­quent fights be­tween him and his wife. As there was no eye-wit­ness to the crime, the trial court and HC re­lied upon cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence— like he re­mained ab­scond­ing for a month after com­mit­ting the of­fence and the de­ceased were last seen with him— to con­vict him.

Tak­ing into ac­count his con­duct in jail, in­clud­ing il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties in prison and in­ten­tion­ally abus­ing pris­on­ers and jail staff, the court di­rected that he re­main in jail for rest of his life.

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