Bhullar’s wife moves SC for stay on execution of death penalty

NEW DELHI: 1993 Delhi blast convict Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s wife on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court seeking stay on execution of his death sentence till her review plea against its verdict is decided.

She submitted in her plea that she has filed a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict of April 12 in which the court had rejected her petition to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment on ground of delay on the part of the government in deciding his mercy plea.

Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorist Bhullar was convicted and awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast here in September 1993, killing nine people and injuring 25 others, including then Youth Congress president M S Bitta.

The apex court had on March 26, 2002 dismissed Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi high court in 2002.

He had filed a review petition which was also dismissed on December 17, 2002. Bhullar had then moved a curative petition which too had been rejected by the apex court on March 12, 2003.

Bhullar, meanwhile, had filed a mercy petition before the President on January 14, 2003. The President, after a lapse of over eight years, dismissed his mercy plea on May 25, 2011.

Citing his delay, he had again moved the apex court for commutation of the death sentence but his plea was rejected.

The apex court had on May one commuted the death sentence awarded to murder convict M N Das, whose mercy petition was rejected by then President Pratibha Patil.

The court had allowed the plea of Das who had approached it for commutation of his death sentence on the ground that the President had taken twelve years to decide his mercy plea.

 

PTI

Rejection of Das’s plea by ex-Pres Patil illegal:SC

In a first of its kind verdict, the Supreme Court has declared as “illegal” rejection of mercy petition of death row convict M N Das by the then President Pratibha Patil and commuted the sentence to life imprisonment on ground of 12 year delay in deciding his plea.

The apex court said that Patil was “kept in the dark” by the Home Ministry about the view of her predecessor APJ Abdul Kalam who had ordered commuting Das’s death sentence to life imprisonment.

“The rejection of the appellant’s mercy petition is declared illegal and quashed and the sentence of death awarded to him by the trial Court, which has been confirmed by the High Court and this Court is commuted into life imprisonment,” a bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi said.

Das, when he was out on bail in a murder case, had beheaded one Harakanta Das in Assam and surrendered with the victim’s head on April 24, 1996 and in 1997, the sessions court there had sentenced him to death.

His conviction and sentence was subsequently upheld by the Gauhati High Court in 1998 and the Supreme Court in 1999.

He had moved in 1999 a mercy plea, which remained pending for 12 years before the President and was rejected in 2011.

The bench noted that President Kalam had on September 30, 2005 ordered for commutation of death sentence but the Home Ministry after five years again recommended rejection of Das mercy plea to then President Patil.

The bench noted that the Home Ministry, however, did not brief Patil about the view of her predecessor and she rejected the mercy plea on government’s recommendation.

The bench said it was “most intriguing” that the Home Minister did not make a mention to Patil of a note dated September 30, 2005 in which Kalam had ordered for commutation.

“Why this was done has not been explained by the respondents. Though, the file containing the petition filed by the appellant and various notings recorded therein must have been placed before the President, omission to make a mention of the order passed by her predecessor from the summary prepared for her consideration leads to an inference that the President was kept in the dark about the view expressed by her predecessor and was deprived of an opportunity to objectively consider the entire matter,” the bench said.

 

PTI

3 get death penalty for rape, murder of minor girl

Death sentence has been announced by the local court here in Indore to 3 youth for raping and murdering a four-year- old girl las year

Additional District Court Judge Indira Singh handed down the capital punishment to Babu alias Chetan (22), Jitu alias Jetendra (20) and Sunny alias Devendra (22).

The guilty was found in the trio under various sections of the IPC related to rape, murder and abduction, among others, Public Prosecutor Hemant Mungee told reporters.

SC upholds Memon death sentence, blames Pakistan

The Death sentence has been awarded to Yakub Memon by the Supreme court here in Delhi today.

Yakub was the person who involved in the 1993 Mumbai serial blast conspiracy with Dawood Ibrahim and other absconders in the conspiracy and blamed Pakistan for involvement.

A bench comprising Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan noted that the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan in violation of all International norms.

It dismissed the contention of the convicts that the TADA court, Mumbai did not follow fair and correct procedure during the trial.

As many as 257 people were killed and 700 others injured in a series of bomb blasts that rocked Mumbai on March 12, 1993.

The Court commuted the death sentence of 10 convicts to life imprisonment and upheld the life imprisonment awarded to 17 others

Man gets death sentence for rape and murder of minor girl

A man who had raped a girl has got awarded for death sentence by a district court for rape and murder of a 7 year old girl.

District and session judge Sushma Khosla sentenced the accused Dilip Bankar after medical examinations confirmed that he was absolutely normal and in full senses at the time of commission of the offence.

Earlier on May 19, 2007, then district judge, Renu Sharma had awarded capital punishment to him. But his counsel moved an appeal before the high court claiming that the case should be re-examined as the ‘accused’ was mentally unstable.

High court accepted the plea and ordered for rehearing. The district court then ordered for a complete medical examination of the accused following the High Court order.

Recently, doctors submitted their report before the court stating that the accused was normal, following which he was awarded capital punishment.

On August 20, 2005, the accused abducted seven-year-old girl from Gwal Mohalla of Roshanpura and raped her. Her body was recovered from Baghmugalia on August 21, according to the police. Autopsy revealed that the girl was raped before being strangulated to death by the accused.

Superme Court extends stay on execution of death sentence of Veerappan

Hanging of four aides of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan has been further delayed with the Supreme Court extending its interim order staying the execution of death sentence imposed on them for killing 22 police personnel in a landmine blast in Karnataka in 1993.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir said it was keeping the matter pending since another bench, which has heard an identical plea, has reserved its judgement.

“In our view, the proper course of action is to adjourn the matter until another bench renders its judgement on similar matters. Therefore, accordingly we adjourn the hearing of this matter for six weeks to enable another bench to deliver the judgement in another pending matter.

“As a consequence, the interim order staying the execution of petitioners (Veerappan aides) passed on February 18 shall continue” until further orders, the bench also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen told.

The bench noted that the subject matter of the petition was relating to the right of the death row convicts to get their sentence commuted to life imprisonment on account of delay of execution of their death sentence.

“This is the main question involved when this matter was taken by us. It was brought to our notice that other writ petitions involving the same issue were heard by a bench of two judges in which senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and T.R. Andhyarujina were requested as amicus curiae,” the bench said.

Veerappan’s elder brother Gnanaprakash and his aides Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran were awarded death sentence in 2004 in connection with a landmine blast at Palar in Karnataka in 1993 in which 22 police personnel were killed.

Their mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 13 and they are presently lodged in a jail in Belgaum in Karnataka.

A TADA court in Mysore had in 2001 sentenced them to life term which was enhanced to death sentence by the apex court.

Gang leader Veerappan was killed in an encounter with the Tamil Nadu Police in October 2004.

The apex court also noted that the judgement in the writ petition heard by another bench on the issue was reserved on April 19, 2012.

The bench said it has been informed by Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval that while considering the two writ petitions, of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and M N Das, the other bench had the occasion to consider similar matters in which the mercy petitions were pending before the President.

The CJI said that since another bench has already heard and reserved its judgement on the issue, there is a possibility that the pleas of Veerappan aides can be heard by the same bench also.

The court is hearing two petitions, out of which one was filed by the four convicts and the other by advocate Samik Narain, on their behalf.

Urging the apex court to intervene, the four death convicts pleaded that a decision on their mercy petition has been delayed by nine years and as per its earlier order they are entitled to seek remedy for undue long delay in the execution of the sentence of death.

“Nine years delay in disposal of the petitioners’ mercy petitions has given them a right to approach this Court or the High Court to seek a commutation of the sentence of death,” according the petition.

On the last date of hearing, the court gave Narain the liberty to amend and rectify the petition after objections were raised on its maintainability by Attorney General G E Vahanvati who was asked to assist the court.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the four convicts, had said their execution should be stayed as another apex court bench had reserved its order on a plea for commuting death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding mercy plea.

”Take these men off death row”

Prabha Sridevan

 

In no fewer than 13 cases, the Supreme Court has held the death sentence to have been wrongly given. The mistakes must be corrected before it’s too late.

With a dark and chilling feeling we recently read about the wrong Carlos who was executed in the United States for a crime he did not commit. An extraordinary investigation by a Columbia law professor and his team led to the revelation that due to a series of mistakes from investigation to trial, Texas executed Carlos De Luna for a crime committed by Carlos Hernandez. But it came too late for poor Carlos De Luna.

What happens if a death penalty is imposed by mistake? If the “mistakes” are still alive unlike poor Carlos, what should be done, especially when the final court of appeal has pronounced the judgments in error?

The Carlos case was one of mistaken identity. We have in India 13 mistakes of a different kind. What do Dayanidhi Bisoi, Saibanna, Ankush Maruti Shinde, Ambadas Laxman Shinde, Bapu Appa Shinde, Raju Mhasu Shinde, Rajya Appa Shinde, Surya @Suresh Shinde, Sattan, Upendra, Shivaji @ Dadya Shanker Alhat, Bantu and Mohan Anna Chavan have in common? They are all men waiting to be executed, 13 of them, a horribly ominous number.

The judgments by which the Supreme Court had sentenced them to death were declared “per incuriam” by subsequent Benches of the Supreme Court. The words per incuriam mean by carelessness or ignoring the statute or the law. But they will go to the gallows, in the name of the people, because of admittedly erroneous judgments, unless their sentences are commuted by the President.

Extraordinary admission

It was in 2009 that the Supreme Court made this extraordinary admission of error, but till date nothing has been done to correct the error. This is not about the correctness, or constitutionality or morality of capital punishment. This is about persons being sent to death on the basis of flawed judgments. These 13 men are not men of moment or men who you will remember, they are men unremembered and unsung and abandoned. But that does not mean they can be wrongly executed. In fact it is that much more important that we, governed by the Rule of Law, ensure that their fundamental rights and their human rights are not violated.

To understand why the judgments were declared erroneous one needs to go back to 1980, when the Constitution Bench of our Supreme Court in Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab, dealt in detail with the arguments for abolition and retention of the death penalty. It explained why there must be special and compelling reasons for sentencing a person to death: “The present legislative policy discernible from Section 235(2) read with Section 354(3) is that in fixing the degree of punishment or making the choice of sentence for various offences, including one under Section 302 of the Penal Code, the court should not confine its consideration “principally” or merely to the circumstances connected with the particular crime, but also give due consideration to the circumstances of the criminal.”

The Court held: “While considering the question of sentence to be imposed for the offence of murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code, the court must have regard to every relevant circumstance relating to the crime as well as the criminal.” And “in addition to the circumstances of the offence, due regard must be paid to the circumstances of the offender, also.” That the circumstances pertaining to the criminal must be given due weight is reiterated throughout the judgment.

Then in 1996 came Ravji @ Ramachandra vs State of Rajasthan which held that “it is the nature and gravity of the crime but not the criminal which are germane for consideration.” This was contrary to the binding dictum in Bachan Singh’s case and hence per incuriam. Judgments that are per incuriam have no precedentiary value and yet the Supreme Court followed Ravji, and imposed the death penalty in subsequent judgments.

In 2009, in Santosh Kumar Bariyar vs State of Maharashtra, the Supreme Court noted the error and admitted that, “We are not oblivious that the Ravji case has been followed in at least six decisions of this Court in which death punishment has been awarded in last nine years, but, in our opinion, it was rendered per incuriamShivaji v. State of Maharashtra, Mohan Anna Chavan v. State of Maharashtra, Bantu v. State of U.P., Surja Ram v. State of Rajasthan, Dayanidhi Bisoi v. State of Orissa and State of U.P. v. Sattan are the decisions where Ravji has been followed. It does not appear that this Court has considered any mitigating circumstance or a circumstance relating to criminal at the sentencing phase in most of these cases. It is apparent that Ravji has not only been considered but also relied upon as an authority on the point that in heinous crimes, circumstances relating to criminal are not pertinent.”

In addition, Bariyar declared that Saibanna vs State of Karnataka was also decided per incuriam. In Bariyar, the Supreme Court insisted that there be a “strict channelling of discretion” while deciding whether to impose the death penalty. It suggested a sentencing procedure and said that, “it is in the nature of safeguards and has an overarching embrace of rarest of rare dictum. Therefore, it is to be read with Article 21 and 14. …. Under section 235(2) and 354 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, there is a mandate as to a full fledged bifurcated hearing and recording of “special reasons”; if the court inclines to award death penalty. In the specific backdrop of sentencing in capital punishment, and that the matter attracts constitutional prescription in full force, it is incumbent on the sentencing court to oversee comprehensive compliance to both the provisions.”

Again, in 2010 in Dilip Tiwari vs State of Maharashtra, the Supreme Court referred to Bariyar’s case and held that though the crime warranted public abhorrence, “…We would, thus, follow Bachan Singh case and the principles therein rather than following the … Ravji case.” But Ravji Rao and Surja Ram were executed — on May 4, 1996 and April 7, 1997 respectively — pursuant to these flawed judgments. There can be no graver miscarriage of justice than this. The Supreme Court’s admission of error was too late for them. They were hanged, not because of mistaken identity as in Carlos’ case, but because of erroneous judgments.

Article 21 of the Constitution of India forbids the deprivation of life except according to the procedure established by law. Will the execution of the 13 men, abandoned to die by mistake, be in accordance with law, when the judgments are per incuriam? The law requires that the accused be heard before deciding on the sentence. It is not meant to be an empty formality. Why hear the accused before imposing the sentence if the circumstances of the offender are not germane to the decision making process? The Bachan Singh judgment has laid down the law clearly and the position was reiterated in Bariyar’s case where there is a candid admission that the cases of these 13 men have been wrongly decided.

Challenge to credibility

The credibility of our criminal justice system and the constitutional promise of equality before law will suffer a terrible blow if they are executed despite erroneous judgments. This article does not raise the larger question of retention or abolition of death penalty. It only argues for the administration of the death penalty in accordance with law.

The Supreme Court, even in India where the judges do not sit en banque, speaks as one Court. The voices we hear are not the voices of the different judges; what we hear is the Voice of the Court. Here the Supreme Court has acknowledged and named the judgments which were “in error”. Yet, nothing has been done in rectification.

The crimes committed by the 13 men must have been so abhorrent to the Supreme Court that the rarest of rare doctrine was invoked. But the law says that before the death penalty is imposed, the Court shall consider the facts relating to the offender. If they were not considered it was a mistake, but not an ordinary mistake. The authority of the state to carry out the sentences imposed by courts cannot extend to executing admitted errors. If the mistake is corrected by Presidential pardon, the 13 men will not go free. They still have to serve their sentences for the rest of their lives. They will not be pardoned. But we shall not have sent them to the gallows, by mistake. There is no time to lose, for those 13 men and for us too.

(Prabha Sridevan, a former Judge of the Madras High Court, is Chairperson, Intellectual Property Appellate Board.)

 Coutesy: The Hindu

Supreme Court upholds Nithari serial killer Surendra Koli’s death sentence

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence to Nithari serial killer Surinder Koli for murdering 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar, one of his first victims in the serial rape-cum-killing episode six years back, saying the case was “horrifying” and “barbaric”.

A bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra confirmed the death sentence to 39-year-old Koli, who has also been awarded capital punishment by the trial court in three other cases of rape and killing of young women and children in Nithari village near Noida on the outskirts of the national capital.

A total of 16 cases were registered against Koli. His businessmen employer Moninder Singh Pandher was sentenced to death in Rimpa Haldar case but he was acquitted by the Allahabad High Court. 54-year-old Pandher is facing trial in other cases.

“In our opinion this case falls in the rarest of rare category and no mercy can be shown to him,” the bench said, while confirming Koli’s death sentence, which earlier had been endorsed by the Allahabad High Court.

Relying upon the Koli’s confessional statement, in which he had given “graphic details” of how he used to allure and kill young girls in Noida, the court said, “The confessions had been made voluntarily before the magistrate and there is no defect in it.”

The bench confirmed Koli’s death sentence, first awarded by CBI special court at Ghaziabad and later endorsed by the high court, dismissing his appeal in one of the first of the 16 cases.

This case pertains to the rape and murder of a minor girl Rimpa Haldar.

While confirming Koli’s death sentence, the apex court kept pending with itself the CBI appeal against acquittal of Pandher, saying any order passed against him or in his favour can have a bearing on remaining cases which are at the trial stage.

The bench said before deciding the CBI’s appeal, it would wait for the outcome of the trial of other cases in which Pandher is accused along with his servant Koli.

Koli was sentenced to death along with Pandher by the Ghaziabad court on February 13, 2009, and the Allahabad High Court had confirmed Koli’s death sentence on September 11, 2009 while acquitting Pandher of the charges.

Aggrieved, victim Rimpa’s father Anil Haldar had filed the appeal challenging Pandher’s acquittal and sought restoration of the death sentence awarded to him by the sessions court.

Rimpa had gone missing from her home in the neighbourhood of Pandher’s Noida residence in early 2005.

The case of Nithari serial killings came to light toward the fag end of December 2006, following discovery of human remains from a drain behind Pandher’s house in Noida. A subsequent and thorough search of the drain had kept yielding human remains and skeletons for over a week.

The case was initially probed by the Noida police but was later handed over to the CBI, which had registered a total of 19 FIRs related to the serial killing

High court to decide on Kasab death sentence Feb 21

The Bombay High Court Monday set Feb 21 as the date when it will pronounce its verdict on the death sentence awarded to Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Kasab for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

The court announced that it will give its verdict Feb 21 confirming or commuting the death penalty of Kasab awarded by a lower court last year, said Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

The high court will also the same day decide on Kasab’s appeal against the award of death sentence to him by the lower court, his lawyer Farhana Shah said.

The matter came up before the Bombay High Court Monday for further directions in the case, the hearings on which were concluded three weeks ago.

In the final stages of the hearing in the high court, Kasab boycotted the proceedings after the judges rejected his request to be brought physically to the court.

In view of the security considerations in transferring him to and from the court, Kasab was made to appear before the court through a video-conference link set up in the high-security Arthur Road Central Jail.

At one of the initial hearings, Kasab displayed violent tendencies and attempted to spit at the video-camera. Refusing to accept the death sentence, Kasab also demanded that he should be sent to the US.

On Nov 26, 2008, Kasab and nine other Pakistani terrorists sneaked into south Mumbai through the Arabian Sea route and targeted various locations, including the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus, Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel, Hotel Trident-Oberoi, and Nariman House which housed the Jewish Chabad House.

The 60-hour mayhem left 166 people dead, including many foreign nationals, and over 300 injured

Death sentence for Surinder Koli in Nithari case

A special CBI court on Wednesday awarded death penalty to Surinder Koli in the Deepali rape and murder case. Earlier, special CBI Judge AK Singh pronounced the verdict and held Koli guilty in the case of rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl Deepali.Koli, the domestic help of Moninder Singh Pandher, was the prime accused in the case. The body parts of Deepali were found in a drain in Nithari in Noida in 2006.Koli has already been awarded death sentence by the special court in three of 19 cases filed in connection with the rape and murder of children and a young woman in Nithari.

The brutal killings that shocked the country came to light when their body parts were found in a drain behind Pandher’s D 31 bungalow in Nithari in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

On February 13, 2009, the duo were sentenced to death in the Rimpa Haldar case in the first verdict in the Nithari killings. However, Pandher was acquitted by the Allahabad High Court on September 11.

Last year Koli was held guilty two other cases of rape and murder of eight-year-old Aarti and nine-year-old Rachna this year.

The mother of Deepali, who was missing since June 2006 and whose name was mentioned in the complaint lodged in December that year about the children missing from the area, had identified her daughter through her footwear.