INDIA: TWELVE YEARS AFTER HE WAS JAILED, SUPREME COURT ORDERS RELEASE OF DEATH ROW CONVICT
January 14, 2021:
The Supreme Court of India on 5 January 2021 acquitted Hari Om alias 'Hero' who had been convicted and sentenced to death by a trial court for committing murder and dacoity (banditry). Hari Om's sentence was also upheld by the Allahabad High Court. (Source: India Today, 08/01/2021)
After he spent 12 years in prison, the Supreme Court cited “inconsistencies” in the record to cancel Hari Om's death sentence.
The order was passed by a three-judge bench of Justices Indu Malhotra, Uday Umesh Lalit and Krishna Murari. Senior Counsel BH Marlapalle appeared as amicus curiae on behalf of the accused.
The Supreme Court said it is difficult to place reliance upon the testimony of a five-year-old child who was the son of one of the victims, and his version cannot be made the basis of conviction of accused who was awarded capital punishment.
The incident which led to Hari Om's arrest and subsequent sentencing happened in 2008 when Nirdosh Devi, her 18-year-old niece Poonam, 12-year-old nephew Ashish, and 10-year-old nephew Anshul were found murdered in their home.
Six people were initially identified as accused in this case.
Following a trial, Additional District Judge Uma Shanker Sharma had pronounced the death sentence for Hari Om while the other five accused were awarded life imprisonment. Apart from Section 396 and 312 of the IPC, the accused were also tried for offences under Sections 25 of the Arms Act 1959.
Hari Om is currently incarcerated in the Agra Central Jail.
Prison authorities confirmed that Hari Om will be released once the release order arrives.
Hindustani Biradari secretary Ziauddin praised the Supreme Court's humanitarian outlook towards Hari Om. The court did not just take the law into account but also accounted for the human values, Ziauddin said adding that justice should be done in this manner in Indian courts.