HC commutes death penalty to life in honour killing case

THE COURT noted that the conduct of Asha’s father, uncle and cousin did not indicate that they would be a “menace to society” or could not be reformed.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Updated: April 17, 2014 11:38 pm

Two years after five members of a family were awarded death penalty in an ‘honour killing’ case in Gokulpuri, the Delhi High Court on Thursday commuted the death sentence of three of the family members and acquitted two other convicted persons of the offence of murder.

Yogesh (20) and Asha (19) had been killed by Asha’s family, who were against their relationship. According to the prosecution, the men in the family had beaten and then electrocuted the couple after Asha had insisted on marrying Yogesh, who belonged to a lower caste. Asha’s mother and aunt had “kept vigil” outside the house to ensure that the two did not escape.

The sessions court had awarded death penalty to Asha’s parents, uncle, aunt and cousin brother in October 2012.

On Thursday, the court of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Mukta Gupta acquitted the girl’s mother and aunt, while commuting the death sentence of the men to life imprisonment. Asha’s father Om Prakash and uncle Suraj have now been sentenced to minimum 20 years’ imprisonment. The court, taking into account the young age of the cousin Sanjeev, has also allowed that remission of sentence, if applicable, may be allowed to the accused.

Observing that “the two ladies could, at best, be said to be spectators to what was being done by the three men in the house”, the court acquitted the women of murder charges.
“No doubt, as a mother and aunt there was an omission on their part to have not saved at least Asha, their daughter. However, the said omission does not qualify the test that they shared the common intention with the three men to commit the murder….,” the court said.

The court also noted that the conduct of the three men did not indicate that they would be a “menace to society” or could not be reformed. Citing Supreme Court judgments on death penalty being restricted to cases where there were serious aggravating circumstances and little mitigating circumstances, the court held that the “nominal rolls of the convicted appellants Om Prakash, Suraj and Sanjeev show that their overall conduct in jail is satisfactory and there are no complaints against them….”.

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