Jigisha Ghosh murder trial: Interviews with the convicts, families for ‘bias-free’ report

The verdict came on July 14; arguments on sentencing will be heard only on Aug 20. Meanwhile, a detailed “pre-sentence report” by a probation officer assigned by the government has been sought by the court

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi | Updated: August 23, 2016 7:18 pm

 

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For perhaps the first time, a trial judge has followed guidelines issued by Delhi HC on pronouncing the quantum of punishment in a criminal case. The Indian Express reports on what the order said — and the process that has ensured over a month’s interval between verdict and sentence.

On July 14, seven years after IT executive Jigisha Ghosh, then 28, was abducted from near her home in Vasant Vihar in south Delhi, robbed and murdered, Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav found three men — Amit Shukla, Baljeet Malik and Ravi Kapoor — guilty of the crimes.

It was a sensational case, which produced extra headlines as the Delhi Police, in the course of the investigation, also cracked the murder of journalist Soumya Vishwanathan — who was shot through her head early on September 30, 2008, allegedly by the same men who murdered Jigisha a little under six months later.

Shukla, Malik and Kapoor do not, however, know whether they will be handed the maximum penalty — death — as yet. They will have to wait until at least August 20 — when the court will begin to hear arguments on the quantum of punishment.

This is unusual — during the criminal trial of heinous crimes such as murder and rape, the conventional practice is for the sentencing to closely follow the verdict. After hearing the arguments of the defence and prosecution on the quantum of punishment, courts immediately fix the date for pronouncing the final order.

As such, in the way that he has chosen to go about the process of sentencing, ASJ Yadav may have set a precedent in criminal trials.

WATCH VIDEO: Jigisha Ghosh Murder Case: Court’s Observations On The Death Sentencing

 

Yadav has followed guidelines laid down by the Delhi High Court in two cases, State Vs Bharat Singh and Vikas Yadav Vs State, and directed Delhi Police to obtain a Pre-Sentence Report (PSR) from a Probation Officer (PO) before awarding the punishment. The court directed the Delhi government’s Home Department to assign a PO, and gave him four weeks to submit a report on whether (a) “there is a probability that in future, the convicts would commit criminal acts of violence as would constitute a continuing threat to society” and (b) “there is a probability that the convicts can be reformed and rehabilitated”.

The PSR must be “factual, independent and free from bias”, the court said. The PO will seek a report from the jail administration on the conduct of the convicts “in the entire period spent in jail”, followed by a “mandatory” private interview with the convicts. The convict “must be informed of his right to silence”, the court said — “as a result, in no circumstance can any adverse inference be drawn if the offender refuses to given an interview… It is advisable to allow the counsel to be present during the interviews.”

The next step would be “home investigation” — where the PO would have to meet the families of the convicts and local people “even if it requires travelling to the place from where the convicts hail”. “He will seek their inputs on the behavioural traits of the convicts” with particular reference to the probability of their being reformed or not.

After the home investigation, the PO will verify the inputs given by the convicts themselves by “consult[ing] and seek[ing] specific inputs from two professionals with not less than ten years experience from the field of clinical psychology and sociology”.

The officer should not give “undue weight” to the information, and should not “ignore the presence of the aggravating or mitigating factors”, the court said.

If the information received from other sources is “contradictory to or inconsistent” with information obtained in the course of the interview with the offender, the convict “should be interviewed a second time with the contradictory information put to him”, ASJ Yadav said.

All information in the PSR “should be classified as verified/corroborated or unverified/alleged”, said the order. “If any statement is an opinion of the PO and not based on facts, it should be so stated clearly,” it said. “More information” than is necessary for the purposes of the sentencing “should not be collected”.

It said the PO may “ascertain convictions, if any, during the trial”, and mention them in the PSR. The court has directed the PO to meet the “parents of victim and seek their inputs in the matter”.

Upon completion of the exercise, the PSR will be submitted to the court in a sealed cover. The court has said that “utmost standards of the confidentiality” of the report should be maintained.

The reader of the court will open the report — two copies will be for the court, which will be kept along with the original in the cover, one copy each will be given to each of the convicts, and one copy will be given to the prosecution.

The court has also said that counsel for defence can seek instructions on the report before making their submissions on the quantum of sentencing.

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  1. M
    Maniktripathy
    Aug 15, 2016 at 4:11 am
    No wonder Judiciary has become a blot and if you are guilty based on evidence, what a mockery of song and dance...
    Reply
  2. H
    Harry Who
    Aug 15, 2016 at 1:40 am
    What a load of rubbish. No crim facing death sentence is going to say that he will keep doing similar crimes. These 3 guys had done 2 similar crimes when they got away with the 1st murder. They had no remorse after the first crime. Why is the legal system protecting these criminals and not protecting the society against these criminals?
    Reply
  3. C
    Chetan Naik
    Aug 20, 2016 at 2:07 pm
    Speaks volumes about how our justice system works.System itself doesn't value time.Our Justice system believes in "Justice dela is justice desired".lt;br/gt;I think the parents may not see the guilty getting punished in their life time.
    Reply
  4. J
    Jai
    Aug 15, 2016 at 2:47 am
    I ume and hope that purpose of the song and dance is to decide sentencing between Death versus RI for Life ?
    Reply
  5. R
    Rishi Raj
    Aug 22, 2016 at 6:38 am
    Wow! This seems to be the height of Red Tapism. That is why crime always pays in India.
    Reply
  6. P
    Prafulla
    Aug 15, 2016 at 4:14 am
    Whatever punishment the criminal get don't give bail in this serious case . I always watch more crimes happened on bail. The judiciary and police should be hold responsible for crime done by criminal on Bail.
    Reply
  7. M
    Michel Pells
    Aug 22, 2016 at 10:10 am
    Interview for what? Balls ,balls, more balls.
    Reply
  8. M
    Michel Pells
    Aug 22, 2016 at 10:10 am
    maakaelaude jab judge bannege to yahi hoga.
    Reply
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