Observing that the case is not “rarest of rare,” a Sessions court in Mumbai on Monday sentenced security guard Sajjad Mughal alias Sajjad Pathan (24) to life imprisonment for the murder of laywer Pallavi Purkayastha in August 2012.
“Considering the mitigating and aggravating circumstances, I am of the opinion that the case does not fall under the rarest of the rare category,” Sessions Judge Vrushali Joshi said while handing over the quantum of punishment.
At around 1:50 pm, amidst a packed-court room, the quantum of punishment was dictated to Mughal when he requested the court to award him minimum punishment.
The court also handed over different punishments to Sajjad for molestation and criminal trespass.
Sajjad had tears in his eyes when the sentence was being pronounced. He requested the court to give minimum sentence. To this, the judge said, “I am giving you the minimum punishment, while the section provides for capital punishment as the maximum sentence.”
However, Pallavi’s father Atanu Purkayastha expressed disappointment over the quantum of sentence.
“My daughter was a strong girl and she put up a brave fight, even as she was stabbed for 16 times. If this is not the rarest of the rare case, then which one is?” he told reporters later.
“We will now talk to the lawyer and see,” said Purkayastha’s father Atanu, asked if they appeal before the Bombay High Court for the death penalty against Mughal.
Mughal, who was employed as a watchman at the ‘Himalayan Heights’ building was found guilty of murder, molestation and criminal trespass. The accused killed Pallavi on August 9, 2012 when she resisted his advances.
Purkayastha, daughter of an IAS officer, worked as a legal advisor with actor-director Farhan Akhtar’s firm Excel Entertainment Private Limited. She was found murdered at her Wadala residence on August 9, 2012.
The Mumbai Police arrested Mughal at the Mumbai Central railway terminus the evening after Purkayastha’s body was found, before he could catch a train to Surat from where he had allegedly planned to flee to Jammu and Kashmir, his native.
According to the police, Mughal had deliberately cut-off the power supply to Purkayastha’s flat sometime before the murder, following which she had to call electricians and get it restored, giving Mughal the opportunity to enter her house.
The police had claimed that at about 1:03 am, Purkayastha had sent a BBM message to her finace Avik Sengupta (27) informing him about the power-cut. According to the prosecution, when Sengupta had reached home, Purkayastha was lying in a pool of blood. She was stabbed several times on her face, neck and abdomen.
Hours after killing Purkayastha, Mughal had called up two of his friends and allegedly boasted about the incident. The statements of the two friends are part of the chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch.
Over a year after the incident Sengupta, the prime witness in the case who lived in the same flat with Purkayastha, died due to an inflammatory brain disorder. Sengupta, in his deposition had reiterated what he had said in his the police statement, that the accused Mughal was a pervert and had made Purkayastha uncomfortable several times in the past.
(With PTI inputs)