INDIA: HC COMMUTES DEATH SENTENCE IMPOSED ON YOUNGSTER CONVICTED FOR MURDERING NEIGHBOUR
March 23, 2021:
The Madras High Court on 17 March 2021 commuted from death to life sentence the punishment imposed by a trial court on an unemployed youngster convicted for murdering his 54-year-old woman neighbour in a residential complex in Coimbatore before robbing her jewels, chopping her body into pieces, stuffing them into two suitcases and then letting them rot in his rented apartment for days together. (Source: The Hindu, 18/03/2021)
Justices P.N. Prakash and V. Sivagnanam, however, ordered that the convict J. Yasar Arafat must undergo imprisonment for a minimum period of 25 years without any remission since he had committed a crime against a defenceless woman, who was the age of his mother, just to rob her of the gold ornaments. They pointed out that the convict was 22-years-old when he murdered the woman on 13 February 2013.
Differing with the view taken by the trial court that it was a rarest of rare cases warranting imposition of death penalty, the Division Bench said: “This is yet another run-of-the-mill case of murder for gain and nothing more or nothing less… It is not the case of the prosecution that the appellant went about sadistically dismembering a living person. The post-mortem certificates clearly show that Saroja’s death had occurred due to strangulation of her neck and all the other injuries have been found to be post-mortem and not ante-mortem ones.
“After having caused the death of Saroja for relieving the ornaments worn by her, the appellant has dismembered her body parts in order to avoid detection. That is why, he had stuffed the dismembered parts in two suitcases and had hidden a pair of thighs above the cupboard thinking that he would be in a position to dispose of the two suitcases and avoid detection. Maybe, luck did not smile at him and the intolerable pungent stench that emanated from the two suitcases and the cupboard miserably betrayed him.”
Further, pointing out that there was no other material, much less any material worth the salt, to show that the appellant had an intrinsic criminal propensity and would be a menace to the society, the judges said that they were unable to persuade themselves to confirm the sentence of death that had been slapped by the trial Court on the appellant.