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Upholding a death sentence, the Supreme Court has said that villagers in the hilly districts of Uttarakhand should have the ‘protection and services of the regular police’ instead of prevailing system of village police under a ‘patwari’ (revenue official).

‘It is really strange that the four districts which are in the plains have the advantage of the police system while in remaining districts, the distant part of those districts should be deprived of police system,’ said the apex court bench of Justice V.S.Sirpurkar and Justice A.K.Patnaik in their judgment delivered Thursday but made available Friday.

Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Sirpurkar said: ‘Such deprivation undoubtedly results in affecting the law and order situation, the detection of crime and protection of poor villagers’.

‘In fact, effective policing is the need of the whole society, urban as also rural,’ the judgment said.

Upholding the death sentence of Sunder Singh who killed five people of a family by pouring petrol and setting the room in which they were having dinner on fire. He even bolted the door from outside so that victims could not escape.

One of the victims, Balwant Singh who was trying to escape was beheaded by Sunder Singh.

The judgment said that murder was committed in a ‘cruel, grotesque and diabolical manner’ and was ‘pre-mediated and executed with a ‘cold blooded mind’.

After committing the crime, Sunder Singh was absconding for twelve years. It was his chance in another crime that led to his prosecution for his gruesome act. He was awarded death by the trial court which was confirmed by the high court and now upheld by the apex court.

The judgment slammed the Uttarakhand Police for ‘slipshod investigation’ into the case.

‘Merely because this heinous offence took place in the remote corner of district Bageshwar which – which at the time when offence took place was Almora district – it did not mean that the investigating agency could do some slipshod investigation…’, the apex court said.

The judgment also pulled up the prosecution for being casual in their conduct.

In the same breath, the court also chided the trial court for acting as a mere spectator over the casual approach of the prosecution.

‘This also speaks about the duty of the trial court judge who cannot be a mere spectator to what goes on in the name of trial. The trial judge has to control the trial by active application of mind’, the judgment read.

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