POINTING out the need to curb “gruesome crimes” against women, a Delhi sessions court Monday awarded the death penalty to two of the three men convicted of abducting and killing IT executive Jigisha Ghosh in 2009.
“Crime in the present case was committed against a woman. Gruesome crimes against women are on the rise in recent years,” observed Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav. The court, therefore, decided not to show any leniency in such cases as it would have sent a “very wrong message” to the society and “encourage” criminals like the three convicts.
“Passing appropriate sentence in such cases will go a long way in arresting the increasing trend of crime against women,” said the court. It added that “protection of the society and deterring criminals was the avowed object of law, achieved by imposing appropriate punishment”.
While Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla were awarded capital punishment, Baljeet Malik was sentenced to life imprisonment, given the scope of his reformation. The trio had been held guilty earlier this year under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code including murder, abduction and robbery.
Following the conviction of the accused, the court had directed the Delhi government to appoint a Probationary Officer (PO) to get information from the jail, a clinical psychologist, sociologist, parents of the convicts and their neighbours on the conduct of the accused.
The report, deliberating whether or not the convicts could be reformed, was relied upon by the court before it decided on the quantum of their punishment.
The court observed that the crime was carried out “in cold blood” and in an “inhuman and cruel” manner. “The innocent, helpless and vulnerable victim remained in the captivity of the convicts for hours. The victim pleaded to the convicts not to take her life. She handed over her debit card and other belongings to the convicts. She also disclosed to them her debit card PIN number. However, the convicts were satisfied only by brutally mauling her to death. In other words, the convicts behaved in an uncivilised and barbaric manner against a helpless girl,” said the court.
According to the court, which took into consideration the PO’s report, the “magnitude” and “brutality” shown by the convicts while killing Jigisha was enough for the case to fall in the “rarest of rare” category.
In Kapoor’s case, the PO did not see any room for reformation. The report asserted that the convict, if shown leniency, would be a threat to the society. “Since there is no possibility of reformation and rehabilitation of Kapoor, and apprehension that he will continue to be a threat to the society, the convict deserves death penalty,” the court observed from the report.
For Shukla too, the PO’s report sought death penalty, pointing out his notorious behaviour and unsatisfactory conduct. “It is also mentioned in the report that an extortion case was registered against convict Amit Shukla while he was in jail,” said the court.
The report also said Shukla had been booked in seven other cases, including a murder case, and sought death penalty.
Contrary to the report on the duo’s conduct, Malik was found to be “good-natured” and showed “scope of improvement”. “Baljeet Malik has been a well-behaved boy in his village. He was 20 at the time of commission of crime. It appears he got involved in the crime because of his association with bad elements and, hence, he should be given a chance to reform and rehabilitate himself,” said the court.
The court also found it to be a fit case of compensation to the victim’s parents. Taking note of a report filed by the case’s investigating officer Atul Kumar, the court observed that Shukla and Baljeet were financially sound and had both moveable and immovable properties.
Of the total fine imposed on the three convicts, the court directed that Rs 6 lakh in compensation be paid to the parents of the victims. “No amount of compensation can alleviate the agony, pain and trauma of the parents of the victim… However, monetary compensation would provide some solace,” said the court.
The District Legal Service Authority (south), has also been directed to provide adequate monetary aid to Jigisha’s parents.