Stating that awarding death penalty would be “completely disproportionate” to the crime committed, a Delhi court on Thursday sentenced the lone accused in the 2001 Phoolan Devi murder case, Sher Singh Rana, to life imprisonment. The court also said the case does not fall in the “rarest of rare” category.
“Keeping in view the overall facts and circumstances of the case, I am of the considered opinion that interest of justice will be suitably met if convict Sher Singh Rana is sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life,” Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar said.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 for offences of murder (Section 302 of IPC) and common intent (Section 34 of IPC). Rana has also been sentenced to life under Section 307 of IPC (attempt to murder) for grievously hurting constable Balender, Phoolan’s security officer.
The prosecution had asked the court to consider the aspect of “motive” to commit the crime while awarding the sentence, to which the court replied, “The prosecution failed to prove the motive, which prompted Rana to commit the crime. The said aspect of the prosecution’s case cannot be taken into consideration against the accused.”
The court also added that the “criminal antecedents” of the accused has also not been proved during investigation.
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The court also rejected the prosecution’s argument that Phoolan’s murder was an “attack on the democratic institution of the country”.
“Now, the prosecution cannot take another stand saying that killing Phoolan Devi amounted to an attack on the democratic institution of the country simply because she was a sitting MP,” the court said.
The court, while awarding the sentence, also rejected the defence counsel’s contention that since Phoolan Devi was sentenced to “11 years only” for killing 22 Thakurs, Rana too should be given a “lenient sentence”. “This argument deserves to be rejected outright as it is completely vague and does not even require a discussion,” the court said.
In response to the verdict, Rana’s sister said, “A woman who killed 100 people is sent to Parliament. But a person falsely accused of killing the same woman is given life imprisonment. My brother has been framed, he is innocent. We will fight in the High Court.”
She also alleged that Phoolan’s husband was behind the murder as he wanted to take control of her property.
Phoolan’s husband, Umaid Singh, said the sentence would send a “wrong message” to society.
“It was the duty of police to investigate the matter in the right way based on which the court would have awarded death penalty to Rana. Lapses in the investigation are the reason for today’s verdict.
I will fight for justice in the HC,” he said.