The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday stayed till May 6 the hanging of murder convict Dharampal,who killed five members of the family of a girl he was charged with raping. The murders were committed while he was on bail in 1993.
Upholding a trial courts decision to give him death sentence in 1999,the Supreme Court had emphasised that despite having been convicted for rape,Dharampal misutilised his bail and killed five family members of the victim. Four years later,on November 19,2003,the Punjab and Haryana High Court had acquitted Dharampal of rape charges,giving him the benefit of doubt.
Reason: The alleged rape victim took a U-turn and even refused to identify Dharampal in court. Holding it to be a case of consent,the court acquitted him of rape charges (see box).
Emphasising that he was acquitted of rape charges,for the first time,Dharampals counsel Navkiran Singh on Wednesday,opposed his death sentence. Following this,a division bench of the high court stayed the execution of his death warrants till May 6.
Navkiran Singh also apprised the court that Dharampal will file a review petition of his death sentence,in the Supreme Court in view of his acquittal by the high court. Dharampal,condemned to death,was slated to be hanged on April 15 after the President rejected his mercy petition.
After Dharampal was convicted of rape charges by a trial court in 1992,he was sent behind bars. Aggrieved,he had moved the high court. In the meantime,was released on bail. Misutilising the bail,Dharampal,along with his brother,killed five family members of the victim in June 1993. He was awarded death sentence for murder by the trial court,which was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court in 1999. However,four years later,the high court acquitted him of rape charges.
The high court judgment makes two significant findings in his favour. First,the victim took a U-turn from her statements and even refused to identify him. The victim told the court that she did not know Dharampal and had never named him in the FIR registered by the Haryana Police. She went on to claim that she was forced to name Dharampal by the police,failing which,she was threatened that her father would be jailed.
The girl also added that she was not pressurised by Dharampal to retract from her statement in the court.
Second,the medical examination of the victim showed no injury marks on her. The medical report read: No injury marks seen on face,breast,back,abdomen,thigh and valva. Hymen seems to be intact. No bleeding of injury in vagina.
The high court,last week,had stayed Dharampals execution and sought response from the Haryana government.
Complying with the order,the government on Wednesday submitted its response demanding dismissal of Dharampals petition.
The government has taken the stand that the high court does not have the competent jurisdiction to entertain Dharampals petition,especially after the Supreme Court has upheld his death sentence and President rejected his mercy petition.
Adding that the high court has no power to commute the sentence,the Haryana government also stated that Dharampals petition was not maintainable.