The courtroom was packed with staff, policemen and journalists. Attention turned to one man, however, who spoke of religion, family and society in an impassioned defence. Immediately, the room fell silent for the proceedings were far from ordinary. This was not a lawyer in black robes defending his client. The man speaking was Sher Singh Rana, seeking salvation against his conviction five days ago for the murder of dacoit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi .
“In these 13 years, ask anyone if I have done anything wrong… You are sitting in the chair of god and what you say here comes directly from god’s mouth… You have pardoned the prosecution in this case so please pardon me too… I request you to write a judgment so that I could get an acquittal soon and do something good for society” Rana told the court of Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar who fixed August 14 for pronouncing the quantum of sentence.
During the arguments on sentencing, the prosecution sought death sentence for Rana saying the murder was not committed in the heat of the moment and that it was “planned and meticulous”. The prosecution stated that Rana had committed a heinous crime and that a person like him was a threat to society.
Rana’s counsel Mukesh Kalia, however, said police had failed to prove motive behind the murder. “He has been acquitted in other cases… More than one person was involved in this case but the court acquitted them,” Kalia said.
Soon after the arguments concluded, Rana began his submissions before court saying his image had been tarnished by police who lodged false cases against him.
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“You have already given the judgment and so I will not say anything about it. But I would like to clarify some things. Before 2001, I was arrested in an Excise Act case, but I was acquitted later. However, after 2001, police registered several cases against me and announced it before the media. But over the next few months, I was acquitted in all those cases, since police quietly submitted papers in court as they could not prove anything against me. Why didn’t police announce this before the media?” Rana asked.
As soon as he started advancing submissions as to why he had escaped from Tihar jail in 2004, the court said it has nothing to do with it. “I have nothing to do with it. You have been held guilty and you will get either death penalty or life imprisonment,” the court said.
The court cut short Rana’s submissions and asked him about his family. To this, Rana said he was unmarried and that his father had died in 2004. “My mother is old and unwell. I keep telling her to get herself treated. But she says she will be fine only when I return.”
Towards the end of his request, Rana said, “If the charges against me are rescinded, then how I adjust in society can be taken care of later. But if released, I would like to do something for society”.