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Pallavi Purkayastha murder case: ‘There is no reason why Sajjad Mughal should not get death penalty’

Pallavi Purkayastha’s father says he has appealed to CMs of Maharashtra, J&K to direct police to ensure arrest of convict Sajjad Mughal who jumped parole.

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JUST AS IAS officer Atanu Purkayastha and his family were recovering from the death of their daughter Pallavi, news that her killer Sajjad Mughal had jumped parole has left the family dejected. Determined to get Mughal the harshest punishment, Delhi-based Purkayastha spoke to The Indian Express on how the system meant to protect the rights of citizens had failed him. The Bombay High Court will hear an appeal seeking the death penalty for Mughal later this month.

Your appeal seeking death sentence for Sajjad Mughal is coming up later this month. What will your stand be in the court now that he has jumped parole?

Our stand remains the same. It is to give Mughal capital punishment for his deeds. If the judiciary wants people to have some faith in the judicial system, the appeal of the state government for capital punishment should be heard immediately without any further delay and death sentence should be awarded. Mughal was held responsible for attempt to rape and murder of Pallavi. There is no reason why he should not be given death penalty. Despite the fact that the investigating team recovered the duplicate keys of the flat, the knife with which the crime was committed, and the fact that the DNA tests results testified without doubt against the culprit, with the case meeting every parameter laid down by the Supreme Court for giving capital punishment, the Sessions court did not award capital punishment to this criminal, which in itself is a serious miscarriage of justice.

It is almost five months now that Mughal has been on the run. Your comments.

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The Commissioner of Police of Mumbai has informed us that they are trying their best to apprehend Sajjad Mughal. I have appealed to chief ministers of both Maharashtra and Jammu & Kashmir asking them to direct J&K Police to take all action to arrest the culprit at the earliest.

It is clear that there was a lapse on the part of jail authorities in granting parole to Sajjad Mughal. Are you satisfied with the suspension of the former Nashik jail superintendent?

It is not the question of my satisfaction. I would rather ask the society through your esteemed newspaper if they are satisfied with this decision of the state government. While the lower functionary – the jailor – has been suspended, no action has been taken against the divisional commissioner despite the fact that it is he is more responsible for creating this embarrassing situation for the state government. It is alarming considering that a report has said in the last five years 29 murder convicts and, notably, last year two terrorists have jumped parole from Nashik jail.

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Do you think the jail authorities, and subsequently the divisional commissioner should not have considered Mughal’s parole at all also given parole is a legitimate right?

Yes, parole is a matter of right for the criminals, as much as it is also a matter of right to life for the victims of the crime, more so, when victims are innocent, law abiding, and taxpaying citizens of the country. I suppose the citizens of the country are paying taxes to have a society administered in a way that ensures right to a secure, peaceful and dignified living for every citizen. That being the case, those who draw salary from the government exchequer for maintaining law and order and justice in the society are bound to ensure that the life of the law abiding citizens of the society are protected and not bullied by criminals or potential criminals. If that is so, then, parole to the convicts of such heinous crime should be refused, totally.

However, in the instant case, the divisional commissioner of Nashik did not have the power to grant parole to Sajjad Mughal as an appeal of the state government for capital punishment to Mughal was admitted and pending for hearing before the High Court of Bombay.

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As a senior IAS officer, do you have any recommendations for the administration here to strengthen the jail system?

I suppose adequate precaution was built into the system of granting parole by bestowing power to a very senior officer of the rank of divisional commissioner, who is a secretary ranking official of the state government, and that such power is to be exercised with due caution and consultation with the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case, for which the culprit has been sentenced and jailed, and the concerned High Court, if any appeal is pending therein against the criminal.

However, as it appears from this case that all caution was thrown to the winds by the authorities bestowed with the power and the responsibility to grant parole, it is time that obtaining the views and opinion of the victim’s family be made mandatory before granting of bail. After all, it is the family of the victim who suffers the maximum. Any violation of such provision should result in not only dismissal but also imprisonment of the authorities misusing the power.

Further, when a person is granted parole, he or she should sent be under police escort, cost of which should be borne by the criminals’ family, failing which parole should be refused. The sureties for parole should be furnished by individuals who are from the same district where the jail is located, so that prompt action can be taken against them in case of jumping of parole by the convict.

It should be made mandatory, if not already done, to take biometrics of all involved in commission of a crime, convicted or otherwise, and maintain a nationwide data base for easy access by all the prosecuting and law enforcement agencies to track criminals and their records.

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How is the family coping with the renewed stress of Mughal jumping parole ?

We are being made to relive those tormenting days of 2012, when two innocent lives were snuffed out by this criminal and how the system has failed to do justice. Two families have been totally devastated and the system has failed them. The impotency in the system coupled with the actions, connivance of unscrupulous officials show how criminals can get away so very easily after committing such ghastly crimes. It will serve as a perfect model for other criminals.

First published on: 18-07-2016 at 01:48:35 am
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