Delhi HC sets aside death penalty of two in murder case, awards 8-yr RI

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday set aside a lower court verdict awarding death penalty to two persons for killing a youth on the night of July 20, 2009 after he objected to lewd remarks of the accused persons against his sister.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday set aside a lower court verdict awarding death penalty to two persons for killing a youth on the night of July 20, 2009 after he objected to lewd remarks of the accused persons against his sister.

The high court convicted the death row convicts, Sunil and Sudhir, under milder penal Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC and awarded eight years jail term for the offence.

Four other convicts, Suresh, Surender, Raj Kumar and Sanjay, who were awarded life term by the lower court, also got the benefit and awarded eight years jail term by the bench of justices S Muralidhar and Mukta Gupta.

The court, simultaneously, rejected the death reference of the state after considering various facts including that the mother of the deceased turned hostile during the trial.

"The evidence of Prosecution Witness-3 (mother) reveals a constant flip-flop and she obviously did not speak the entire truth. Apart from the fact that she is both a related and interested witness warranting a more careful scrutiny of her evidence, it is difficult to trust a witness who keeps prevaricating on the version of events....," Justice Muralidhar, who wrote separate concurring judgement, said.

Justice Muralidhar said "I concur with the judgment of Justice Mukta Gupta both as regards conviction and sentence. However, I wish to supplement her reasons with some of my own" and passed a slew of guidelines on conducting trials in henious cases.

Citing the example of the present case, the verdict said "as far as practicable, public witnesses, and in particular eye witnesses, should be examined at the earliest point in time once the witness action commences."

Two accused, Sunil and Sudhir, on July 20, 2009, had gone outside the house of victim Subhash at around 11.30 pm and passed lewd remarks and made obscene gestures towards the victim's sister.

On being objected to by the victim, they went and came back with other four accused and assaulted Subhash with baseball bat, iron rod and empty liquor bottles.

Two neighbours of the vicitm, who came to his rescue, were also assaulted.  

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